How Cold Can It Go?!

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” could well sum up most of the past few weeks – depending on one’s perspective. It has been frigidly cold, but the sunshine has been plentiful, giving us spectacular views. If you haven’t already seen the photos Julie (a Saskatoon member) posted our the Largo Farm facebook page, I encourage you to check them out and see for yourself. And of course, extremely cold days are a great excuse to stay in bed with a good book!

That’s not to say that the frigid temperatures we experienced over the Christmas season and have now been plunged back into do not pose a challenge. While we don’t have to worry about power outages or natural gas shortages here on the farm, we do have to be mindful of keeping up a good wood supply, stoking our fires regularly, and keeping an eye on the cellar temperatures.

I wasn’t quite quick enough to respond when the temperatures first started to plummet last month, and some of the carrots and potatoes in our cellar suffered frost damage. Fortunately, only a few potatoes were lost and the carrots are still alright in cooked form. There have been plenty of soups, stews, and roasts on our menu these days.

Over New Year’s, we took our cue from Judy and Tom’s past experience (before their cellar was as well insulated as it is now) and began taking pots of boiling water into the cellar to keep the temperature up. With the thermometer registering minus 37 last night, I thought we should give the cellar a little help today too. But when we sat down to lunch, we discovered that Shawn had accidentally put our moose stew down to warm the cellar and left a pot of simmering water on the stove for lunch! Stone soup, anyone?

Potatoes, carrots, and beets are the veggies of the season, and we have been enjoying lots of them. This month you also received onions, one final spaghetti squash, and what are most likely the last of the parsnips. We will not sending any more rutabaga this season, as the quality is so poor. Hopefully the bugs go easier on us next summer!

The potatoes we sent out this month were a mixture of our two types: Red Norland and Belgian. The Belgians are a starchier potato and while they can be delicious boiled (especially if cooked in just the right amount of water so that it has all evaporated by the time they are cooked), they are generally best fried or baked. If you are looking for some new potato ideas, check out the recipe section of this blog.

My absolute favourite beet recipe (Syrian beet salad) is also on that page, but for those of you looking for something totally different to make with your beets, how about a chocolate beet cake?

Secret Chocolate Cake (from Simply in Season)

2 cups beets, cooked, peeled, and chopped

1/2 cup applesauce

Puree in blender until smooth. Set aside.

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup plain yogurt

3 eggs

Combine in a large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer 2 minutes.

1/2 cup sifted cocoa

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Add along with pureed beets. Beat another 90 seconds.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Gradually sift into batter, stirring until just mixed.

1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or nuts

Stir in. Pour into greased 9 x 13 baking pan and bake at 350 until knife inserted in centre comes out clean (40-50 minutes).

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