Today I decided to cook enough dinner meals to last us for the week. It was another cold day with snow sifting down anyway--not enough snow to be exciting, but just enough to let us know it was cold out there and a good day for inside work. Larry, bless him, spent a few hours outside anyway, restacking the wood in the shed to be ready for the predicted storms this week.
He also brought in some potatoes, and I noticed that they are keeping very well in the potato bin in the cellar. Here we are at the end of January, and the potatoes are firm and showing very few signs of sprouting. I wish I could remember the variety of red potatoes we grew this year. They have been excellent in production, health of the vines, keeping ability and especially flavor.
I used the potatoes along with a roast I found on sale and other vegetables to make a good pot roast,
and then combined chicken, noodles, carrots, onions, celery, chicken broth and herbs to make a thick chicken noodle soup. Just the thing for this cold, blustery day.
This evening I sat down finally and ordered my garden seeds. I am shocked to see how the variety of seeds available each year dwindles. This year Gurney's dropped the lemon cucumber that I love; I had to look elsewhere for the Royal Burgundy bush beans too. I did not locate seeds for Gypsy peppers but still have a few places to look. Garden Huckleberries seem to have disappeared too.
I used to love all the unusual things Gurney's offered, like cotton seeds, tobacco, and broom corn. Some of these items are a thing of the past and only the commonplace seeds seem to be left. I was thrilled to find the lemon cucumber seeds in the R.H. Shumway catalog. I've never ordered from this company, but I'm doing it this year to get my little yellow cucumbers. This year I will save my own seeds as a safeguard against the possible loss of a future source. Scary.
Here's the rough recipes for the soup and pot roast. I can't give exact ingredients because I didn't measure anything:
Chicken Noodle Soup
I used boneless chicken tenders, cut into chunks. (I think the package was about 1 to 1.5 pounds)
Cook the chicken in a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of the soup pan until all sides of the chicken looked cooked. Add about 3-4 cups of chicken broth (or abut 2 cans), and about twice as much water as broth.
Cut up one large onion, about 5 regular carrots and 3 stalks of celery. Add to the soup pot.
Add 2-3 bay leaves, crushed rosemary and thyme to your taste (I used about 1 teaspoon of each), chopped garlic, about 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper, a teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
Let this simmer under the vegetables are tender. Bring to a boil and add 1/2 pound (more or less, depending on how thick you want your soup) of egg noodles.
Cook until the noodles are tender. Remove the bay leaves. Serve with rosemary bread or your favorite hot bread.
Sear the roast on all sides in hot olive oil. Move the meat to a slow cooker and add chopped carrots, onions, celery and potatoes. The amount depends on the size of your slow cooker; I have a big cooker and I used about 2 cups of carrots, 1 cup on onions, 1 cup of celery and 4-5 cups of potatoes, I think. Add water to cover.
Add 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, 2 cubes of beef bouillon, 2-3 bay leaves, chopped garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high until a meat thermometer shows the meat is done.
If you like, you can thicken the broth with a mixture of about 3 tablespoons of corn starch in 1/2 cup of warm water. Dissolve the corn starch thoroughly by mixing it with the water, and add to the liquid in the cooker.
Cook on high for a bit longer, until the broth thickens. Then reduce heat to low until you are ready to eat. Serve with your choice of breads and a green salad for a hearty, satisfying winter meal.