We were fortunate last week to come through the latest Snowpocalypse with only about six inches of the powdery white stuff. We couldn’t escape the blast of Arctic air that followed behind it though that sent temperatures plummeting to record levels for mid February. The thermometer hit -4°F Thursday morning, with the wind chill even colder. The greenhouse looked like an icehouse with the icicles hanging down. Inside it was a “balmy” 16°F. Another system came through on Saturday, and we got a little bit of freezing rain before it warmed up and turned to just rain. Most of the bad stuff went south of us.
The cold and snowy weather had me craving comfort food. Since it’s my turn to cook, I whipped up a comforting meal of meatloaf, Garlicky Mashed Potatoes and some Derby green beans from the freezer. I made the mashed potatoes from a mix of our yellow-fleshed Yukon Gold and French Fingerling potatoes. For the garlic, I baked one head each of Russian Red and Lorz Italian so I could do some taste testing. After being in storage for over six months, both of these varieties are still in good shape. Despite the fact that Russian Red is a rocambole type with a great taste raw, I thought Lorz Italian (an artichoke type) tasted better after baking.
They both flavored up the mashed potatoes nicely, and my wife and I both enjoyed them and the green beans I cooked up to go with them. The meatloaf was a nice treat too, with some of our homemade catsup and mustard in it along with the local grass-fed beef. I like to form the meat into individual mini-loaves that bake up quicker than a big loaf, and make portion control a snap.
Another meal had me whipping up a batch of red pepper aioli to go with some salmon burgers. At the end of the season last year I pickled some of the ripe Topepo Rosso peppers. I made a sweet brine, and added the quartered peppers along with a few cloves of garlic and one or two of the hot Piccante Calabrese peppers to add a little zip.
I love these pickled peppers, and added them to mayo to make the aioli. I baked up a Beauregard sweet potato to go with the salmon burgers, which I served up on one of my Dark Rye Potato Buns. As you can see by the below photo, it was a big sweet potato and half of it made a large serving.
The only fresh harvest of the week was some parsley from the greenhouse. I dug out the snow by the greenhouse door so I could get in, then picked enough flat leaf parsley to make a bouquet. I used the parsley in some soup I made from the last of our leftover Thanksgiving turkey and broth. It also went in another dish I’ll talk about next.
Friday I used one of our neck pumpkins to make a batch of Butternut Lasagna Rolls. The recipe calls for butternut squash puree, but we have several of the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck squash left in storage so I decided to use that instead for the puree. I cut the squash into pieces, baked it until tender, then scooped out the flesh and used the immersion blender on it. The squash in the below photo weighed a little over five pounds, and I got right at two pounds of puree from it after processing. I only needed one pound of it for the recipe, so I froze the rest.
The lasagna rolls are stuffed with a mix of cooked spinach, ricotta and parmesan cheeses, and a little chopped parsley. The spinach was some of our 2014 crop that I blanched and froze for later use. The squash puree is mixed with some sauteed onions and garlic, and goes on the bottom of the pan and the top of the lasagna rolls before baking. My wife and I both agreed this was a tasty and lightened up version of a classic dish. You can find the recipe on Skinnytaste.
My wife and I also found time to make two batches of soap last week. We make one pound (oil weight) batches anymore, using our homemade PVC pipe molds. That gives us five round bars after we cut them. We love to experiment, and this time we made one soap using 100% coconut oil. That turned out a lovely shade of white that almost matched the snow outside! The other soap was a variation on our French Green Clay recipe, this time using lemongrass and rosemary essential oils plus a bit of finely ground rosemary leaf. There should be no trouble telling the two soaps apart in the below photo!
I’ll close with a photo of our two cats, Puddin and Ace, who apparently fell asleep yesterday while reading about silk painting. Oh well, at least they weren’t trading catnip futures on the computer!
That’s a look at what’s been happening here. To see what others are harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more from Happy Acres!