January 22, 2013 § 22 Comments
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.
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 »
February 18, 2010 § 2 Comments
Some time has passed since my last musings about cabbage, but never fear! This by no means indicates an actual decrease in my consumption of cabbage. Oh no, I’ve been eating it frequently and with gusto. How else is a person supposed to survive the deepest darkest days of winter without getting scurvy? However, I am most often a traditionalist (translation: stuck in a rut) when it comes to cabbage, and I’ve already done gone and played my hand by sharing my green and red cabbage cooking methods with you. Because they’re good!
But, every now and then I do get a bit experimental and creative with my cabbage-centric culinary exploits. This particular cabbage salad I deem a great success. I made it a while ago (back before I went on carrot-strike, as a matter of fact, which is why there are carrots in it. Negotiations went smoothly and things were settled to the satisfaction of all parties involved, in case you were wondering), and meant to write about it then. But, I kept postponing it, for some reason – well honestly it’s mostly because the picture I took of it is kind of crazy and psychadelic looking and I didn’t really like it (anyone have any suggestions for a photography class I can take?! I think I’m getting at least a little better; I enjoy it at any rate!).
February 10, 2010 § Leave a comment
I don’t think I can adequately express my undying gratitude to ‘blank canvas’ foods and dishes. You know, the kind where it provides a base, and you can just sprinkle with this, dollop with that, add a handful of chopped whatever, and serve. Things like omelets or scrambles, quesadillas, stir fries, soups, and salads. They’re like the dumping grounds of foods. Except way more positive and edible than that. How about, they’re like loving grandmotherly foods, waiting with open arms to accept whatever you have to add to them.
Salads, in addition to having achieved this reputation as healthy meal extraordinaire or carb counter’s best friend, are amazingly willing receptacles for other ingredients. All it takes is a good salad dressing and you can tie together salad greens with almost any other vegetable, meat, cheese, nut, fruit, legume, or cooked grain you can produce! In the summer I like to throw a gratuitously huge spectrum of chopped fresh vegetables into my salads – no simple lettuce salad for me, thank you! In the winter, on the other hand, most of the vegetables I have around require cooking. But that doesn’t mean they can’t go into a salad. I make a lot of roasted vegetables because my general belief is, if it’s not best fresh, then almost any vegetable is better roasted. So, I often have the odds and ends of leftover roasted veggies, and these (or sautéed vegetables) are a perfect addition to a salad. Which is how I ended up with this deliciously Mediterannean-y roasted eggplant and artichoke salad for lunch. I had leftover roasted eggplant from one pasta dish and leftover artichoke hearts from another, so woopsy! Onto a bed of spinach they went, along with a stray half tomato that was totally non-seasonal and therefore not particularly good, but did add lovely color. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 11, 2009 § 5 Comments
When I think of things that could potentially jeopardize a relationship, pumpkin is not the first thing that springs to mind. In fact, it doesn’t spring to mind at all. When I think of pumpkin, I think of a pumpkin perched decoratively on a porch along with some dried corn, maybe with a goofy face carved into it. Or I think of one being turned into a carriage for Cinderella to take to the ball. Or I think of pumpkin pie, mmmm. And that’s where the problem arose. You see, my boyfriend has many wonderful qualities but it turns out he has horribly bad taste. He doesn’t like pumpkin pie! (Feel free to gasp in horror along with me!) Not even really good ones, according to his reports! I, on the other hand, think pumpkin pie is proof that the Universe is fundamentally an okay place. Pumpkin pie is a generous gift, brought by the little angels of the-best-kind-of-pie-ever each year on Thanksgiving to make us happy.
We discovered that we were at odds regarding this jolly orange squash because I happened to have one around, sitting in the pantry, just waiting to be roasted and put to good use. Luckily for my ability to compromise, I prefer to save pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving anyway, to keep it extra special. Plus, (beware, startling admission to follow) I actually think canned pumpkin (plain with nothing added – the ingredients list should just say pumpkin) works better for pie than fresh pumpkin! All this is to say, I decided not to use my pumpkin for pie. Luckily, there are all sorts of things you can do with pumpkin. Pumpkin (and really all the rest of the winter squashes) is a nice semi-sweet, silky flavor that goes nicely in either savory or sweet dishes. Pumpkin, or pumpkin-like squash, is traditionally used in Latin American, Middle-Eastern, and Asian, (especially Thai, think pumpkin coconut curry!) cooking, so you can add any of those spice combos to it (see the spice combos on my page on basics). I’ve heard you can even stir fry pumpkin, if you peel it and chop it into chunks. On this occasion, I had winter salads on my brain, so I decided to roast the pumpkin and add chunks of it, still warm, to a salad. Thinking about how Mexican cooking uses a lot of pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), I decided to make a Mexican-inspired vinaigrette to tie the flavors together. « Read the rest of this entry »