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December 2014

Food for Thought

Ready for Winter
By Lorinda

Food for Thought archive

Click here for this month's printable recipes

 


What is Christmas without plenty of cookies?

 

When we lived in the city, stocking up for winter wasn't really a concept we needed to embrace. If it looked like we were going to get significant snowfall (a rare occurrence), we'd run to the store for some of the essentials: toilet paper, coffee, bread, milk, and propane for the lantern. A power outage was the most bothersome problem we had in stormy winter weather.

Where we live now, in the mountains of northeastern Washington, snow usually comes early and stays. It rarely snows a few inches and then melts; once we get a foot or two of the white stuff, it's there until spring. Since driving to town can be hazardous, I fill my pantry in the fall to avoid extra trips.

The rising cost of groceries really hit home this year; sticker shock hit me hard when my friend and I drove ninety minutes to the closest warehouse club. Since our freezers are full of game meat, I was grateful that I only had to purchase chicken and pork to give us some variety. The meat and twelve pounds of coffee beans, various canned goods, a bag of rice, cleaning supplies, and generous quantities of pet food nearly filled one cart.

I managed to pile nine pounds of butter, cream, sour cream, and cream cheese on top, then started filling my friend's cart.

And I hadn't even gotten to the baking supply aisle yet!

Forty pounds of all-purpose flour, fifty pounds of bread flour, thirty pounds of sugar, bags of brown sugar and powdered sugar, vanilla, pecans, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, olive oil, coconut oil, and raisins almost broke the bank.

We won't even discuss the impulse items. Wait . . . yes we will, because my favorite impulse item was a package (or maybe four) of maple French toast bagels, and since they're long gone and I won't be going back to the big city until next spring, I had to figure out my own copycat recipe. It's close enough for me!

 


French Toast Bagels

 

My husband was hyperventilating when he realized that all of the goodies in the back of my friend's van were ours. She had been much more self-controlled than I, and her haul fit neatly in the back seat. The funniest part of this was, two weeks later we went back and did it again! I'd forgotten things . . . lots of things. And I needed lots more butter. It's always a good idea to make a shopping list so you don't forget any ingredients.

I'm pretty sure that we now have enough supplies to get through the worst winter in the history of time. Certainly I won't run out of coffee. Or jalapeno and garlic-stuffed green olives. Important staple items, you know.

 


Well-stocked fruit room

 


A full freezer

 

You would be shocked to know how much of this stash will be gone by the time the holidays are over . . . especially the baking supplies. I make gifts of cookies and candies, and sometimes give away frozen cookie dough. It's fun to make huge batches of several types of cookie dough and freeze them in perfect little balls that can go right from the freezer container to a baking sheet. My father always loved this gift. He'd just pop a few in the oven at a time, whenever he got a cookie craving. It's also a wonderful idea for a housewarming gift or for new parents. I usually make a variety—peanut butter, chocolate chip, molasses, and sugar cookies.

 


Big Batch Cookies
make welcome gifts.

 

My summer and fall are always spent busily preparing for winter. Garden vegetables are in the freezer. Potatoes, onions, and garlic are carefully tucked into boxes. Many varieties of squash perch in unlikely spots in the house and pantry. Peppers are dried, hanging in festive swags in the kitchen and fruit room. Some of the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and peppers are also dried and ground into colorful spice mixtures, brightening my kitchen in their Mason jars. Game meat has been processed and either frozen or canned, a comforting bounty. But of all of these foods, the items that make me happiest are the containers of rich, red, flavorful tomato sauce—worth every single moment of the time invested. These will be used in soups, stews, and pasta sauces.

So—we're ready. If I've forgotten anything I will improvise or do without, or if the weather clears and the plows come through, I'll make a dash to town . . . if I want to. Chances are, I'll skip the trip and cuddle up with a good book and a cup of cocoa.

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season. May your New Year be full of happiness and abundance!

 

Contact Lorinda at mamakinnon@aol.com

Lorinda resides in Eastern Washington, where she joyously combines her love of cooking and gardening. Baking is her passion, and licking the batter off the spoon after making a cake is her reward. When she's not in the kitchen, she's out in the garden pulling weeds and snacking on young peas. Enjoy Lorinda's blog, The Rowdy Baker.

 

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