Monday, January 26, 2009

A Quiet Winter Weekend

Saturday was a cold and snowy day. We spent it doing errands in town and visiting friends in Charleston. It was a good way to spend an otherwise dreary day.

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.
Pot Roast
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.


Rebecca Clayton said...

I recommend Seed Savers' Exchange (you can "Google" for it) in Iowa for things like your lemon cucumbers and garden huckleberries. They have lots of "old-time" garden varieties, but are not as fabulously expensive as a lot of "heirloom" seed sources.

You don't get a lot of seeds in a pack--enough to get a variety started, so you can save seeds yourself if it works out for you. I've gotten some great tomato varieties, and I've found a squash I love (golden zucchini). I haven't found the "right cucumber" for Droop Mountain yet, but I'm enjoying the search!

Janet, said...

Your stew and chicken noodle soup look delicious! We have potatoes left from our garden, but we are keeping them in the garage and they don't look as good as yours. I told my son that I wish it was planting time, because from the looks of our potatoes we could cut them up and plant them.

City Mouse said...

That's just about my favorite two dinners! Your pot roast recipe looks nearly identical to mine. Love it. I like the idea of just using chicken pieces and broth, rather than boiling a whole chicken and having to fish and strain it out. Never occurred to me to use just meat and broth. LOL

Matthew Burns said...


I second Rebecca's suggestion to check out the Seed Saver's Exchange, they are great. Also, check out the Market Bulletin put out monthly by the WV Division of Agriculture. It is online. They have a section for plants and seeds from WV sources. It is not an extensive lsit, but there's some good stuff on there.

Also, my mother loves:

She orders from there every year. She doesn't do Gurney's too much anymore since she is into heirloom seeds. Still it is a great event when the first seed catalog arrives on the mountain!! If I might make a suggestion for next years tomato, Old German. Developed in the Shenandoah Valley, they are, to me, the best tasting tomato I've ever had the privilege to put in my gullet. And the name is just a bonus for me. lol.

Hope these suggestion help you out.


Granny Sue said...

Rebecca, I've known about Seed-Savers for years but never have tried it. I'll look into it and see if I can find some of the items I want there. Thanks for reminding me. Matthew, i'll check rare seeds too. I believe I grew old German last year--big, dark and very rich flavor if I remember right. This year I want to try the Amish Paste tomato, and maybe that green German tomato.

Mouse, you made me laugh when you said you never thought about using chicken and broth separately--I used to think that was cheating! Well, it is in a way, but it certainly speeds up the process, and tastes just as good; and there's a lot less fat too.

Janet, planting time's not far off! I can recall having ours in the ground on St. Patrick's Day. We'll be burning off the lettuce bed soon and planting it--I try to get that done in February, and usually have lettuce on Easter. Usually being the key word, because anything can and will happen to garden plans as we all know.

Rebecca, you might want to consider the lemon cukes for your area. They are so hardy and productive and are usually tagged as "gourmet" because of their taste and tender skins. They are far and away my favorite cuke, so you can see why I was upset when I didn't find the seeds in my usualy source. I'll be saving seeds this year, oh yeah. I just wonder if they'll cross-pollinate with the pickling cukes I also grow?

Deborah Wilson said...


Everything looks delicious!

It's been sooo slow around here this month. Mom hurt her arm again last week, she didn't break it again though. In my spare time, I've been helping her with some projects - I haven't been on-line much.

Winters are naturally cozy - and good hot food helps the spirit..:)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...