Winter

24carrotsoupThis is a delicious fall/winter soup that makes a perfect first course at Thanksgiving. It’s packed with carrot flavor that’s enhanced by a double dose of ginger.

Cook’s Illustrated suggested adding fresh carrot juice to enhance the flavor of the soup which really appealed to me. I’ve been using my Hurom Slow Juicer to create all types of fresh, nutritious vegetable and fruit juices, so making fresh carrot juice is quick and easy.

If you don’t have a juicer, bottled carrot juice will also work just fine.

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ducksalad.jpgIf you don’t think salad is a hearty enough meal for the dead of winter, this one will certainly change your mind… With a warm duck breast sliced atop a flavor packed mix of greens, vegetables, nuts and cheese, it’s a dish that’s rich and satisfying but also pretty skinny.

I only recently stumbled upon this fabulous combination of flavors at The Waterfront Restaurant in our favorite home away from home, Camden, Maine. It was Christmastime and there was a fresh blanket of snow on the ground…but the sun was bright, the sky a vivid blue and the outside temperature was an almost balmy 34 degrees. Somehow, I didn’t feel like a cold seafood salad but didn’t really want a hot chowder either.

I ended up ordering this dish instead and, by the time lunch was finished–and everyone at the table had sampled my plate–we all decided that this warm salad would be perfect any time of year.

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kale.jpg It happens every week. As I'm selecting my Swiss chard, kale, or collards, someone inevitably sidles up to me and asks, "What do you do with that?" Then after I share a recipe idea, she usually follows up with, "To me, they're all the same."

No wonder people get confused. Every time you go to the supermarket all the winter greens are mixed together in one big, undivided, forest green section, with seemingly randomly placed signs and prices scattered above and below them.

It's like a game: Match the green on the left column with the correct name and price on the right column. Chances are you probably just select the green that your mom made when you were growing up because it's the one you actually know how to cook.

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pomsalsa.jpgWe cannot let November pass without a pomegranate!

I love to cook and I love cookbooks, for they seem to hold sorcerer’s spells between their pages. I don’t use them when I cook, however. 

I may glance over the ingredients list or temperature/time chart, but the book closes when I begin preparation. Nothing I do gets done exactly the same way twice as I cook by feel and what is in my kitchen at the time.

I say this only to encourage you to treat the following recipes casually – more as an inspiration than as a contractual obligation.

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broccoflower.jpgIf it’s January, I must be cooking Broccoflower. I picked some up at the grocery the other day because, frankly, our vegetable larder of turnips, rutabagas, kale, and beets is starting to freak me out. Plus, I can never resist the lime-green color of Broccoflower, and I love its nutty flavor when browned, too. (Also, since we live in a small town and I shop at the same small grocery store every day after my post-office run, I’m beginning to worry that people might think we have a really unhealthy diet, since I rarely buy vegetables at the store any more. Checking out with Roy’s donuts, some Lucky Charms for Libby, and maybe some chocolate chips for me makes me a little self-conscious! Hence the need for the occasional head of Broccoflower.)

I’ve sautéed, roasted, stir-fried and quick-braised Broccoflower, but it’s very cold here today and I thought a ragoût would be satisfying. (When I say it’s cold today, I mean it’s calling-all-mice-inside cold. This morning a mouse was in the compost bowl in the pantry. He’d fallen in, obviously in search of yumminess, but since there was little more than coffee grinds and egg shells to feast on—anything green is going to the chickens or Cocoa Bunny right now—he’d tried to scamper back up the sides of the aluminum bowl. No luck. Roy switched on the light about 6:30 and left the little mouse to do a roller derby around the bowl until I got up. I put him back outside (tipping the bowl to let him escape), where he will most likely find his way straight back inside the house tonight. I feel a little bit like Fred Flintstone putting Dino outside the back door. Oh, well. At least Libby is not here to insist on a warm bed for Mousey.)

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