It’s freezing this morning, at about 18 degrees F, and the house feels like it – I woke up this morning to the igniter having gone off and the house was very, very cold. A simple reset got it working, but the house will take a while to warm up.
The other night we arrived home from our wonderful Thanksgiving road trip to visit my sister, brother-in-law and their family in upstate New York with a lot of Black Friday loot. Mostly for us, although we did bring home a little extra on request. This isn’t your typical Black Friday shopping – we did it all at a place about 30 minutes from her house called The Carrot Barn, a family farm that has a wonderful little sandwich and baked goods counter, local meats, candles and pottery, and a lot else besides. But the thing that had us going an extra 26 miles west before turning to come home was their bulk vegetables – priced, for the most part, infinitely cheaper than I could ever source here, and locally grown. Our haul includes 20 pounds of onions, 10 pounds of carrots, 5 pounds of turnips, 25 pounds of potatoes, and a bushel each of butternut squash and sweet potatoes.
We tossed in a Christmas wreath, some garlic, a spaghetti squash and a few other goodies, but the majority of what we spent yesterday is an investment in warm meals for the future. Besides the carrots and the turnips, these are all ‘keeper foods’ these will winter over in the kitchen by the back door in their boxes or bags, and slowly – or less slowly – get used up. Last year the onions lasted until February, and the sweet potatoes longer than that. I guess that’s a perk of our old, drafty house, that the kitchen stays cool enough for vegetable storage.
The first squash became Butternut Squash Lasagna with Garlic and Rosemary for our second round of Thanksgiving last night with my other sister and family. Today, aside from some holiday decorating, we’re almost 100% dedicated to storm preparation, as 8-13″ of snow and ice are due in starting later today. This means clearing the pumpkins from the porch by saving those that will become future meals in the kitchen and giving the rest to the chickens, who love a good pumpkin for a treat. We’ll also be bringing in firewood, and making sure there’s extra water in case we lose power, as well as firing up the wood stove just for the general coziness. The animals will be warm and safe – Eli had already cut a tarp to cover the bunny hutch, so they will be protected from wind and weather, and we’ll shut up the coop with the two heat lamps for the chickens. Add to that a pot of soup on the stove and some homemade bread or popovers, and we’ll be about as prepared as we can be.
But back to those vegetables, and the nearly 8 hours of driving in 2 days to get them. Why, when we can just go to the store around here? Farmstands abound near me, absolutely true. Well, for one, we got a lovely overnight and holiday with my sister and her family, who I adore. And while it’s probably true I could get the carrots and the potatoes for the same rock-bottom price around here, it’s not quite the same thing. For one, I can chat with the farmer who grows them while I shop there, about how business is and his 23 grandchildren. I know there’s nothing on this food he would worry about his family consuming. For another, small farms are failing in the US, and if my dollars can help support one or a few, great. Honestly though, it’s just good food, and we’ll eat it. I love sweet potatoes in nearly any form, same for squash. If I had thought we could go through them in time I would have bought a bushel of Delicata Squash too, but they don’t keep as well as the Butternuts.
It is the sweet potatoes though, that I am most excited about. I eat them in almost every form except that which they are the most known for – candied with marshmallows on top (just ick). Sweet potatoes are incredibly versatile, and often serve as my Paleo starch when I’m not eating bread. I love to just slice and roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper, but the options are near-infinite.
This is part of our winter stockpile, and we’re just about done. The freezers and pantry cabinets are full to bursting. Our meal plan for the week includes homemade Clam Chowder, French Onion Soup, a roasted chicken, and a favorite keep-us-warm standby, Thai Peanut Chicken Ramen. Food, that central part of human existence, is one thing we do right here. As the winter weather sets in, our home – and our stomachs – will be warm. I wish the same for all of you.