Yesterday our first hard rain of the season fell, and the pellet and wood stoves were both cranking heat. This weekend will be full of rain and cool air — and for us, that means it’s time to get out the recipes for hearty food. Stews, soups, breads, pastas with thick sauces — accompanied by red wine or dark beer, of course.
Ready for some stick-to-your-ribs cold-weather food? Here are some tips:
- Hit the library. From the local paper, which usually has a weekly food section, to cooking magazines galore, the library is a great resource to find recipes you want to make this winter. Find what makes you drool, and try not to short-circuit the photocopier.
- Go through your home collection. As one season starts to close, I sit down one evening and sift through our cookbooks and loose recipes. I make notes of things I want to make for the coming season, from old favorites to new and untried dishes. Then I clip them all together, notes and recipes, to sift through when planning meals.
- Check supplies. Making a lot of chili this winter? Check the cumin, chili powder, paprika and cayenne supplies. If possible, buy spices in bulk so you always have needed seasonings on-hand. Don’t get too much though; 6 months is a pretty good rule of thumb for herb/spice shelf life.
- Include a dinner party or two in your plans. For us in the Pacific Northwest, a lot of the joy of winter is relaxing at home, warm and snug. Jodie and I love the solitude of our home, but we love our friends too, so we try to make sure to have people over regularly for a home-cooked meal. (Well, that, and I love cooking for friends.) Good company and camaraderie are a great antidote to gloomy weather.
I love fall and winter here. The leaves change; the air gets crisp. But we also have mild winters here, and I like that we have rain instead of snow, and gray skies instead of air that could freeze-dry your lungs. Most of all, I love cooking big stews, soups and what-not, and can’t wait to bust out the first of many hearty meals.