Arugula and delicata salad

January 22, 2013 § 22 Comments

arugula delicata salad 1

Right at this moment, it is 20 below zero outside.  The windchill is -43F, and the high today is a balmy -4.

In other words, it is January in Minnesota.  And while this kind of weather does make you vaguely wonder how life can exist here, it is also pretty great – after the thaw we had two weeks ago – to feel like we’re getting a spot of normal weather.

delicata half moons

In case you don’t live in such a frigid place, here are some things to know about this type of weather:

Yes, there is still a palpable difference between temperatures when you get lower than 32F.  Sure, it all feels freezing, but not at all the same level of freezing.  5 degrees above feels downright vernal after a spell of -15.  When it’s around 10 or 15 below, salt actually stops working to melt ice.  It’s kind of funny.  When it gets really, really cold you can toss a cupful of water up in the air, and it will freeze before it makes it back down to the earth.

The best way to respond is to go outside in spite of the cold, just be sure all of your skin is covered and that everything you’re wearing is thick and wooly.  Then, make some type of remark to everyone you meet about how arctic explorers would be overjoyed to have such a pleasantly warm day.

On a related note, you must learn to recognize everyone by their hats and puffy coats because you can’t really see faces.  You need boots that are in a whole different league, preferably made of moose skin.  The long fur coats you inherited from your grandmother stop looking like a politically incorrect bit of fashion history and instead look like an extremely reasonable and adaptive way of dressing. « Read the rest of this entry »

Broccoli soup with parmesan and lemon

November 21, 2012 § 15 Comments

I’m going to make this one quick because, let’s face it, I don’t have much spare time today, and you don’t either.  Too much crimping of pie edges, dry brining of turkeys, simmering of cranberries, and such and so to be done.

Or, if we’re completely honest, spilling of half bowls of pie dough on the floor, forgetting to take out the turkey, and smoldering of forgotten pots of cranberries.  I am thankful for (among the many more standard things that I am deeply grateful for) brooms, basting with butter (a highly worthy alternative to brining), and smoke detectors.  Though perhaps not in that order.

I am also thankful for this soup because it is the solution to the ‘what shall we eat the night before Thanksgiving?’ dilemma.  (Or if you are in another country, it’s the solution to almost any other dilemma you can come up with.)

I love this recipe in part because the way Merrill – one of the cofounders of Food52 – came up with it is the same way I come up with ever so many dinners.  She saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon” written on a coffee shop signboard.  She thought to herself, “da@* that sounds good” (it’s the holidays, so I’m being careful with my naughty words, see?), and proceeded to try to make her own version.

I have done the same many a time.  Also, the exact same thought ran through my own head when I saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon,” so I knew I had to make it tout de suite. « Read the rest of this entry »

Italian mushroom and celery salad

June 21, 2012 § 23 Comments

First, the bad.  My hometown was ravaged by horrible flooding in the last two days.  Just torn apart.  A torrent of rain developed overhead and wouldn’t budge until it had dumped 7 inches, 9 inches, 10 inches of water in some places.  The wall of water rushed down the hill toward the lake taking out huge chunks of roads and sidewalks, dumpsters and bridges with it.

Perhaps you even saw it on the news yesterday.  I know the story about the seal that was swept out of the zoo by a river of water and was found stranded on the highway received a lot of attention.  Many of the other zoo animals – the little barnyard animals in the petting zoo – drowned.  I spent half the day in unremitting tears about this.  Unfair is not nearly a strong enough word.

It’s horrifying to be reminded how powerless we are. It’s  also probably really important to be reminded.  These extremes may be the new normal, and it’s time to be truthful about the fact that we are not remotely in control.  And perhaps the best we can do sometimes is bond together, lend a never ending supply of helping hands, and cope.

All my family and friends there are fine, though.  Thank heaven for that.

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Chicken with artichokes and white wine sauce

May 3, 2011 § 22 Comments

My sophomore year in college, as I sat dutifully pretending to read some text on the roles of women in Enlightenment literature or some such, my roommate looked up from a small hand mirror, tweezers in hand, and proclaimed, “you know plucking my eyebrows every couple of days for years, you’d think the hairs would start to get the idea and just stop coming back.”

I thought this was a very good point.  semi-animate objects should totally be able to pick up on our cues and take over for themselves after a certain amount of time.  After decades of being made every ding dong morning, you’d think my bed could start making itself at this point, right?  I would also very much like to see the floors mop themselves every 2 weeks.  And, sometimes I would really like dinner to cook itself.  Don’t get me wrong, I really do love to cook, but there are certain days when I would not at all mind seeing my supper rise to the occasion and begin cooking itself right around 6 o’clock.  On Mondays, for example.  That would be nice.

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Cheesy Winter Squash Muffins

October 21, 2010 § 40 Comments

What is it about fall?  Really.  I can’t get over it.  There is something so splendid, so unabashedly glorious about this time of year that I feel almost ready to pop with abundance and contentment each time I put on a sweater, step outside, and feel the soft voluminousness of the clear fall air.  I love the colors – deeper, from brilliant to brooding.  I love the nostalgia.  I love sweater weather.  I love the cold that is just enough to most definitely require snuggling.  I love the expanse of an electric blue fall sky.  I love how spacious fall weekend days feel, even though the evening closes in earlier.  I love the coziness of eating supper when it’s dark out.  I love the smells and sounds of leaves.  I want to bundle fall up in a fuzzy sweater and give it a hug.  It makes me want to sing happy songs and write sonnets to it.  Except that nobody – least of all fall – will be done any favors by my attempting to write sonnets.  So, instead I cook to it.

Fall calls for food that is encased in dough, or splashed with some cream (in case work actually listens to your petition and lets you hibernate this year), or dashed with some nutmeg, or drizzled with some maple syrup.  Food filled with all the deep colors and vibrant yet mellow flavors that echo the way fall feels.  And lots and lots and lots of winter squash.  There is almost nothing more autumnal than a butternut, or acorn, or kabocha, or buttercup squash.  They just keep filing in from my farm share, and with all their different shapes, colors, and sizes, the pile of them in my pantry is starting to look like line up of circus characters.  It’s truly fabulous.

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