Settling into Winter


It is that time of year, when the earth’s orbit around the sun and its tilt on its axis combine forces to lead us swiftly into the dark part of the year. We think back with gratitude on the warmer days of late October, which allowed us to finish the harvest, spread manure, and thrash beans in the fresh air. Now, both the soil and the lake are freezing, and much of our attention turns indoors to preserving the last of the harvest; cleaning seeds and dried beans; and enjoying the quieter days of winter homeschooling, rest, and reading. Of course, outdoor life continues too, with gathering and splitting wood, hauling water, tending to the animals — including a brand new calf (pictured above) who was born Monday evening! — , and, starting tomorrow, winter butchering.

This is the season when I have more leisure to cook, though ironically, it is also the season when I have fewer options of what to cook. Perhaps that is fitting, as the always changing fresh vegetables of the summer require little effort on my part to please the palate, whereas winter roots can get tiresome without a little innovation. Still, we have our standby favourites which we look forward to year after year, including roasted root vegetables, whose recipe I share below. If you are looking for more ideas for serving your winter roots, have a look at the Recipes page of this blog, as well as at winter posts from years gone by. One of my hopes for this winter (and the last two, so don’t get your hopes up too high!) is to learn how to tag blog posts so the recipes are easier to search.

The vegetable bags we sent out on Sunday were heavily loaded with the roots of the season – potatoes, carrots, beets, and parsnips, as well as onions, Hot Hungarian wax peppers, and the last greens (or purples – as Johnny pointed out) of the year. We may have some rutabagas for you next month as well, but we have not yet adequately tested them to make sure they are worth sending. The last thing we want is to fill your bags with unpalatable vegetables destined for the compost heap!

On that note, please do keep watch over your onions. Between the hail damage that convinced them it was time to start growing anew in late July and our unseasonably cold and wet September, the onions did not manage to cure properly. They are not keeping very well. Your best bet is to spread them out in a dry place and check regularly (at least weekly) for any signs of spoilage (soft spots, especially around the stem). Use those ones first and continue to monitor the rest. Judy and Tom have begun drying onions in an attempt to keep up with the culls. You may wish to do the same if you find they are spoiling faster than you can eat them. I am told they also freeze well if you chop and fry them first.

And remember – your squash, pumpkins, and vegetable spaghetti also need regular (but less frequent than the onions, probably every couple of weeks would be fine) checking to avoid the possibility of discovering an unpleasant mess!

Roasted Winter Vegetables

6-8 cups winter vegetables: potatoes, squash, carrots, parsnip, rutabagas, beets, onions etc., peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces

2 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp dried herbs (summer savory, basil, oregano, etc)

Toss ingredients together (though onions should be kept separate and added 10 minutes into the baking time, and you may want to season and roast beets separately if you don’t want their colour to bleed). Spread in a single layer on greased baking pans. Roast at 425 F until tender (about 1 hour). Season with salt and pepper, and serve with roasted garlic sauce (optional, but scrumptious).

To make the roasted garlic sauce, remove the loose paper layers from a head of garlic but do not peel. Slice off the top of the bulb and wrap in aluminum foil (with oil, salt, and pepper, if desired). Bake alongside the vegetables. When tender, squeeze the soft cloves into a bowl, mash with a fork, and mix in 3/4 cup plain yogurt.



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