Friday, January 31, 2014

What's Cooking This Bleak Midwinter?

Today marks the end of January 2014. It leaves us with memories of the coldest month we've ever had here at Farm Dover, multiple mornings of sub 0 temperatures and days on end of snow covered fields. I've been waiting three years for just such a month – a month filled with daily walks through crunchy snow, wood fires almost round the clock, Breaking Bad seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix, night skies dark and clear – mad with stars, and cravings for food that nourish our bodies and comfort our souls.

You would think that this is the bleakest time for eating local foods, but I reserve that title for March, when our freezer and pantry are bare of last season's harvest and the asparagus hasn't yet poked up in the garden.

Here's a look at what simmered on the stove, braised in the oven, and rolled around on our kitchen counter this month. Starting with breakfast...

Usually, we alternate between steel cut oats and homemade granola. But last weekend, we treated a houseful of friends and family to Snug Hollow's Very Crisp Oatmeal and Corn Pancakes (see recipe below) drizzled with real maple syrup handcarried from Quebec by friend John. These are not your everyday pancakes, but ones that elevate any morning to a special day.

Our lunches most often feature mugs of hot soup, either made fresh that morning or defrosted from the stock in our basement freezer. Back in the summer I froze bags of fresh corn, which make a base for an easy corn chowder. Three kinds of chili are on the rotation, as well as roasted tomato soup, spicy bean soup, sweet potato soup and creamy mushroom soup.

Afternoon snacks on winter weekends usually feature Whirley Pop Popcorn. Ed's secret is popping the corn in a teaspoon of coconut oil. When we were last in Madison, WI, we bought bags of different kinds of popcorn at the farmers market and so can choose from among four varieties.

I also experimented with making my own chai tea, a lovely winter afternoon treat.

For dinners, we are eating our way through our freezer full of meat. We started the month with Reunion Pea Casserole and  will end it tonight with chicken braised in milk with sage and lemon peel (sounds not so good, but it is!). I substitued coconut milk for cow's milk, with good result. Rivercrest Farm (Goshen, KY) chickens never tasted so good.

In between, I found one lone, but large, beef shank in the freezer and braised it into Osso Buco for five. My goal is to start the spring with an empty freezer, ready to receive the 2014 harvest.

Just last week, we ate the last of our Yukon Gold potatoes that had hung in a french shopping sack from a nail in the basement. We are still eating our way through pounds and pounds of sweet potatoes, and appreciating their longevity, sweetness, and versatility.

I've roasted them and loaded them, pureed them into soup, baked them into muffins, and smashed them into piles of fluffy orangeness.

Speaking of orangeness, Ed picked a bushel of oranges, grapefruits and meyer lemons while he was fishing at The Juniper Club in Astor, Florida. I've been working my way through them with almost nightly citrus and kale salads. Between them and boxes full of tiny tangerines, our Vitamin C levels should be sky high.

Dessert is either a tangerine, a crisp from last summer's (frozen) blackberries , or a square of Cellar Door dark chocolate almond bark.

So don't go feeling sorry for us stranded out on the farm. As usual, we are eating high on the hog and loving it out here. And, if the weatherman is to be believed, another snow storm is headed our way for next week. Bring it on!

Very Crisp Oatmeal and Corn Pancakes
This recipes comes to us from Sister Kathy. It originally was published by Snug Hollow as a recipe for waffles, but we figured out it made delicious pancake batter. I've adapted it slightly.

1-1/4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder (one less than the original recipe calls for)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream (1/2 cup less than the original recipe calls for)
1-1/2 cups whole milk (1/2 cup more than the original recipe calls for)
6 tablespoons melted butter
Garnish: maple syrup, yogurt, and fresh fruit

Preheat cast iron skillet (or pancake grill) to medium. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in eggs, cream, milk, and butter. Let stand for 2 minutes. Pour batter into skillet, making small-ish pancakes. Flip when bubbly. Keep in warm oven while you make the rest of the pancakes. Serve with maple syrup, yogurt, and fresh fruit on the side, if desired.


  1. Farm Dover sounds like the place to be. last weekend, my "relaxing" on sunday included a warm oven for most of the day - culminating with a batch of the granola from this very site. it's roommate-approved in our house in Madison this time of year, too!

  2. Glad you and your roommate like the granola recipe. We never seem to tire of it around here – especially good with some Greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey and some fresh berries. Stay warm.