Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Monday, January 27, 2014

Snowy Days

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
Edith Sitwell

“Every Autumn now my thoughts return to snow. Snow is something I identify myself with. Like my father, I am a snow person.”  
Charlie English

“Summer is the time for squabbles. In winter, we must protect one another, keep each other warm, share our strengths.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

"You can't get too much winter in the winter."
Robert Frost

"There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. "
~Ruth Stout

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Two Soups for a Chilly January

Well, I got my wish.  We have about eight inches on the ground and it's cold so the snow isn't going anywhere soon.  The kids and I spent yesterday on the slopes, and today they're playing in the snow with The Woodsman while I catch up on my inside work. 

Even though I could have slept in this morning, I was up before dawn so I could enjoy the view of the sun hitting the snow covered mountain.  I love the peace and quiet of this season. 

Danny is a lot like me.  When he woke up early this morning he stood and just looked at the beautiful winter snow scape and said softly, with awe, and mostly to himself, "I love winter."  I'm a teacher, and no small part of my winter bliss is that I get to stay home on the snowiest days.  But, really I'd be happy even if school wasn't closed.  I just love snow. 

Snow days call for warm, easy meals.  If we're home during the winter it's likely that soup will be on the menu.  Here are two easy, kid friendly soup recipes.  As an extra bonus, you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry and freezer so you don't have to fight your way through the lines at the grocery store to make them.

Taco Soup

There are lots of variations of this soup.  I've made it two ways recently (slightly different both times because of what I had on hand).
For a meat version:
 -  brown 1 lb. of ground beef in a Dutch oven and drain the fat
 - Then add taco seasoning mix (whatever amount you would use to make taco filling)
2 cans of beans (black and/or pinto work well)
2 quarts of tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
2 cups of frozen corn
1/2 c. of frozen chopped green peppers
hot chili peppers and salt to taste

Simmer until thickened to the consistency you'd like.  If you have it, serve topped with tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

If you want to make a vegetarian version just pull out a big soup pot, add all of the ingredients and substitute vegi crumbles for the meat - no browning involved.

Chickenless Noodle Soup

This one came from a fellow teacher friend (Thanks Lisa!)

Sauté chopped half onion + 1 clove garlic + 2-3 stalks celery (leaves and yellow stalks are the BEST!) and then add 4 cups water + 3 bouillon cubes + bay leaf + dried parsley. Optional:  Add 1 c. of frozen corn.  Simmer. Turn heat off and add egg noodles. EAT when noodles are done! YUMMY!

Note:  I added a carrot, and I didn't have a onion so I added onion powder instead.  Still delicious and perfect after a day in the cold.

Side Note:  I got a pressure canner for Christmas.  Since then I've made three big batches (think stock pot size) of soup - pea, ten bean and ham barley respectively - and I've canned them all.  It took a little while to get used to how to use the pressure canner, but overall I've loved the experience.  What I really need are recipes.  If you have any tried and true pressure canner recipes please share.  The book that came with the canner came with many recipes, but most of them were for things my family just won't be eating.  Pigs feet or blood pudding anyone? 

Hope you can stay in, stay warm and enjoy cozy times with your family.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Farmer's Almanac

Every fall our neighbor tells us that according to the Farmer's Almanac it's going to be a terrible winter.  Every year, I hope his prediction is right. 

I'm a winter girl - if I was in Game of Thrones I'd be a Stark.  Lately, winter has been teasing me.  We've gotten a half inch here, a half inch there, some freezing rain, and even some really cold temps.  But, where I ask is the snow?

The winter that my eldest was born was a winter of record.  Two days before she was born we got 30 inches of snow.  Lately, I find myself dreaming of a winter just like that one.   Or, how about the winter when my son was three.  We had snow storm upon snow storm - we actually got tired of skiing and snow days.  That kind of winter would suit me just fine.

Now this is winter!

I think Winter must be one of those love it or hate it kinds of seasons.  I know some people who hate winter with vehemence.  The only reason those folks stay in the north during the winter season is for Christmas.  I don't dream about going South until spring - I dream about running North.  So, several times a year - I run home so I can get my fill of winter. 

Here's hoping the forecast calls for snow!