It’s supposed to be winter here in the States, but it seems that Ma Nature is a bit confused as of late. While some of us are getting snow, others are flooding and getting sunburns. Stews, soups, and one-pot meals go right along with winter weather – when it happens properly! Here’s what our “Western” Not Dabblers have been busy preparing for our first Challenge challenge.
Even though the weather continues mild, I’ve been enjoying doing those wintertime stick-to-your-ribs one pot meals (Okay, 4 pots, a jar and two bags). Soup, chili, lasagna, casserole. You can see from the lasagna link that I didn’t do quite as well two years ago at making it through the Dark Days from preserved foods, but this year I’ve managed, with a little help from my year-round CSA, to stay local, even with the vegetables, and at that I’ve only needed to resort to spinach, chard, and frozen peas. I made a wonderful vegetable soup in homemade chicken broth (recipe: see what you have, throw it in a pot. Simmer until yummy. I did manage to stick to just one pot for this one.) Ate it while watching the State of the Union, and I thought it appropriate that the First Lady just happened to flash on the screen as I shot this!
Meanwhile, The USDA has now officially declared Chicago to be Zone 6A– that’s a movement of four half-zones since I started gardening in the early 90s. But there’s no such thing as climate change. Or something. Just ask a gardener.
I write this post on one of those unusually sunny Winter days in the Willamette valley. I cooked my ‘challenge’ dish on a cold and sultry day, however so i made one of those slow cooked, bubbly, warm dishes: chilly! I usually make one pot/pan meals, though the kitchen still looks like a tornado went through it when i’m done. Not sure why that happens…. Oh right, i’m a terrible house keeper and tend to be lazy AND messy. Dang. This week i got some tasty local ingredients to play with and even got out my new-to-me cast iron to make a new chicken recipe. The goat chilly/stew turned out awesome and featured local (10 minutes up the road) goat meat, homegrown/preserved tomatoes and local dried chillies (plus regular grocery store onions, dried beans and salt/seasoning). Pocket had a no-bowl meal of the same goat meat, gnawing on two neck bones for 3 days, tapping into her carnal predator and nourishing her whole body from gut to silky-soft fur.
Here at Unearthing this Life we’ve been using up the remnants of a couple of duck that we prepared. I like to try to eat nose to tail, but can’t always get over the taste of organ meat. So when I was faced with two duck liver I thought using them in a beef stew would be a wonderful way to disguise their potential iron-y flavor.
I used up the last of the garlic I’d brought up with me from Tennessee and sautéed them with some other traditional stew veggies: carrots, potatoes, and a few leeks I’d stashed at the end of the Farmers Market in fall. The only thing that wasn’t local was the organic celery and the salt. I got both the beef and duck from the butcher down the road who purchases all of his meat from regional farmers. Toward the end of “stewing” I added the chopped liver, hoping it would stay tender and wouldn’t fall apart. Okay, so it didn’t help the liver from tasting like iron, but it was tender.
The broth was great, the vegetables cooked perfectly, and the beef was wonderful. I think we all decided the stew was fabulous … once we each took the liver out of our bowls.
Don’t forget to check out the One-pot meals from our Eastern participants. If you’re joining us for the Valentine’s Day sweets challenge, be sure to check out the dates for your entries!