Tag Archives: winter

The truce is over…

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Winter and I had a truce this year – and I think we had a good run. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was happy with winter, but this is the first year in Minneapolis where I haven’t been actively angry with it. I consider this in and of itself to be major progress and a huge step towards actually admitting that I live here.

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However, the truce is over. It’s mid-February and I desperately need winter to be over. No more snow, no more slush, no more ice and no more days below freezing. I’m finished with the whole damn thing. I want to pack my boots up and stow my sweaters away. I am anxiously awaiting the time when socks become optional and I live in my summer dresses. To be able to bike work again and see green in the trees. Eat fresh vegetables and drink beer outside. Breathe.

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But what I can do right now, despite the winter season is continue to make (and consume) copious amounts of ice cream. Of the Bourbon Brown Sugar variety. It’s cozy, complex and has me thinking about it constantly. There is a fair amount of alcohol in it, which not only brings out the bourbon overtones but does beautiful things to the consistency of this ice cream. (Alcohol freezes at lower temperatures than most freezers are set at). Spoons smoothly slip in to sneak another bite. It’s been my constant companion as I dream of far-away places.

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Bourbon Brown Sugar Ice Cream
makes ~1 quart
**********
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup + 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, divided
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons bourbon
**********

Pour heavy cream in a large bowl, set mesh strainer atop and set aside. In a large pot heat the milk, 3/4 cup brown sugar and salt over medium heat until steam starts to rise. While the milk is heating, stir together egg yolks and remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar in a large bowl. Once the milk is warm, slowly pour it into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Transfer the milk-egg mixture back to pot and return to medium heat. Cook until mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Pour through mesh strainer into heavy cream. Stir in vanilla extract and bourbon. Chill thoroughly. Freeze in an ice cream maker.

Winters last(?) laugh

I thought we were in the clear. I got back from California Sunday evening and was pleasantly surprised by the near lack of snow in the city. By Monday afternoon they had even called off the “Winter Parking Restrictions” (which basically meant that I could only park on one side of the street because the snow pretty much takes up the width of an entire lane). I was looking forward to taking my bike out around the lakes over the weekend and just being able to walk down the sidewalk without having my eyes permanently downward, looking out for ice or puddles. I was dreaming of flower gardens and finding a CSA (community supported agriculture).

But then I woke up to this.

Snow. Again. Multiple inches of it. In fact it snowed for most of the day.

WTF?

I ask myself (once again) “Why does anybody, and more importantly, why do I live here?”

In order to deal with this completely unwelcome development I made a giant pot of soup.

Roasted butternut squash soup topped with croutons and apple cider cream.

I love this soup. And, like most soups, it is pretty easy to assemble with relatively few ingredients.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Start by rough chopping:

1 small butternut squash

2 small apples

4-5 small carrots

1 large onion

Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, heat some butter in your soup pot and add some chopped celery. Cook until soft, about 15 minutes.

Add a few pinches of dried thyme.

And a dash of cayenne pepper.

Take the vegetables out of the oven.

And transfer them to the soup pot.

Add 4 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken).

And 1 cup of apple cider.

Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

Return to the soup pot, bring to a simmer and add 1/2 cup of cream.

Now for the apple cider cream.

Cook 1/2 cup of apple cider until reduced by half.

Mix into 2/3 cup of sour cream.

That’s it.

Now that my belly is full, I am going to go back to dreaming about California and ignore all the snow that is currently outside.

Comfort Food

Okay.  So you all know that it’s cold here.  It’s about all I think about these days.  I think I may have found at least one comfort in these temps that don’t quite reach zero.  Food.  And not just any kind of food.  The kind of food that feeds your soul and wraps around you to give you a hug when you are cold and lonely (not to mention it will settle down around your hips, but I am choosing to think of that as insulation).

In this case, it centers around cheese and carbohydrates (my third favorite C, chocolate, will be featured in my next post).  Baked potato soup and garlic cheese breadsticks.

I am starting with the cheese bread.  Earlier in the week I attempted to make some cinnamon rolls and while they tasted pretty good, they failed to rise, and I was determined to master the art of yeast dough (after all, I have been using baker’s yeast in my laboratory experiments for years now).  I found a recipe in The Joy of Cooking.  I would have halved the recipe (as it makes a LOT of dough) but was unsure of how to split the one egg…

Garlic-cheese breadsticks

In a pot, add 1 1/2 cups of whole milk.

Warm up enough to dissolve 1/3 cup sugar.

And melt 1/4 cup of butter.

Add 1 T salt.

Let cool.

Meanwhile, dissolve 4 1/2 tsp. of active dry yeast in 1/2 cup of hot water (100 – 115 degrees) in a large bowl for 3-5 minutes.  I think this is were I went wrong with the cinnamon rolls – I don’t think I warmed my yeast enough.

Add the cooled milk mixture.

Beat in 1 egg.

And 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese.

Beat in 3 cups of flour until well blended.

Continue to add flour 1 cup at a time until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  I added an additional 2 1/2 cups.

Knead dough for about 10 minutes.  (Thank you dough hook!)

Cover with a towel and let dough rise until it is doubled in size.

Punch down and roll out into ~1/2 inch strips.  Twist 2 strips together to form breadsticks*.

Cover and let rise again.

Brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle garlic salt and parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

*This recipe makes way too much dough.  I only made one pan of breadsticks and formed the remaining dough into a loaf and baked for about half and hour.  I wrapped it up and stuck it away in my freezer).

Baked Potato Soup

I have been dreaming of baked potato soup for quite some time now.  I found this recipe in Cooking Light, but decided to use the full fat versions of milk, cheese and sour cream – because food is infinitely better in it’s full fat state.

Start with some potatoes.

Pierce them and bake for 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry up some bacon and set aside.

Once the potatoes are baked, peel and slightly mash them in a bowl.

Now, get a pot and add 1/2 cup flour.

Whisk in 4 cups whole milk until nice and smooth.

Cook on medium heat until nice and thick, about 8 minutes.

Add the mashed potatoes, and some cheddar cheese,

2/3 cup of chopped green onions,

and about 3/4 cup of sour cream.

Salt and pepper to taste. Combine and cook until heated through.

Top with more cheese, green onions and bacon.

Just about perfect.

Only Scott could warm my heart more.

 

Dear Minneapolis

To those of you who claimed that “Minneapolis is a fantastic place, and yes, while it snows a lot, at least they are well equipped to deal with winter,”

Why would you lie to me?

This place sucks.

I am tired of the snow emergencies and the hour+ bus rides.

The snow is not magical, nor does it make me feel like a kid again.

I hate not wearing my cute skirts and dresses and how flat my hair gets from wearing hats.

I want nothing more than to move to Florida, be with my beloved and never deal with snow again.

Sincerely,
Meleah (and Puck and Kudzu)

Written during the most convoluted 114 bus route known to man as an outlet for extreme frustration. Decided this was a better than killing our bus driver.

So it snows a lot in Minnesota

I have mentioned before how completely unprepared I am for a Minnesota winter.  That hasn’t really changed and winter is continuing to kick my ass.  It snowed, and snowed and snowed some more yesterday.  You could barely see out the window.

We got about 20 inches of snow yesterday and are officially in a “snow emergency.”  Which means that I had to move my car so that they could plow the streets.  Had I been slightly smarter, I would have moved my car before we had accumulated the nearly two feet of snow.  But I didn’t, and so had to get up early this Sunday morning and dig my car out.

It took nearly an hour.  Thank god one of my neighbors left a snow shovel in the entryway, as I don’t have one.  And I thank the kind stranger who gave my car a push so that I could be on my way.  And, thankfully, they will plow the streets (and in a timely and organized manner).  At least this city knows what it’s dealing with.

The cats took the right approach.  Napping on the couch in the warm and cozy apartment.

Now, I am trying really, really hard to embrace this whole winter thing.  After the snow storm last week I decided to venture outside and take a walk around Lake of the Isles.  It was rather pretty and definitely put me in a holiday mood.

I was tempted to sit and contemplate this scene -if only the bench wasn’t totally covered in snow!

This one reminds me of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the streetlamp in Narnia.

And this one just amuses me.

This week, I think the longest walk I’ll take is around the corner to Lucia’s for brunch and maybe to Lagoon Cinema to watch Harry Potter.