This is the seventeenth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Pictured above: supermarket shelves plundered in anticipation of a blizzard in January, 2011.
Weather outside? Frightful. Inside? As delightful as you care to craft it.
Just in case you've been huddled up in an igloo or a Tauntaun with no mobile or cable reception, massive snowfall has thwacked a big chunk of the country. Millions of people are either digging out or frozen in place, and it's it's gonna stay chilly over the next few days.
Might as well hunker down and fuel up. Here's what's on my cold weather menu. Or it would be if I were at my home, rather than snowed in an airport motel far from home.
But if like us, you made a resolution to actually use up whatever is in the fridge instead of shopping or ordering food, this is the perfect opportunity to make a fantastic, and ever so economically sound leftovers soup. If you've been saving up shrimp peels or chicken bones, or have a spare carrot, celery stalk and onion lolling about, put them to work in a simple, soulful stock, and then chop and add whatever looks salvageable from the crisper or meat drawer.
For extra flavor, brown and drain any meat that might go in the pot, and consider giving vegetables a quick roasting in the oven before adding. Here are some great tips and recipes for souping up your technique.
2. Glammed-up oatmeal
Cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, maple - take a seat, because things are about to get a little savory. I'm not sure where we as a breakfasting society got the notion that all oatmeal had to be sweet - or even just for breakfast. It takes on flavor just as well as rice, farro, polenta or any of the other ubiquitous grains and meals, and it's a great source of B vitamins and calcium, helps lower cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Eat it for your health and for warm, hearty sustenance amidst a deep freeze. Enjoy it for its delicious versatility.
My favorite add-ins include hot sauce or chili oil, cheese (especially Parmesan or gouda) and a dash of salt, but it's great with sausage or leftover barbecue, herbs like sage, thyme and rosemary, roasted tomatoes and peppers, curry spices and so much more. If you've got the time and wherewithal, opt for steel-cut oats rather than instant, and speed up the process by making a large batch and storing it in individual portions to reheat as needed.
Yup, I fully admit that this sounds kinda batty, but just everyone I've led down the savory oatmeal path has become a hot-cereal-dinner disciple.
3. Snow ice cream
Get your blizzard buffet on for a fraction of the price of Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche and feel like you're Laura Ingalls Wilder, hardscrabbling out on the Dakota Territory, minus the outhouse and pig bladder balloons. Here's the recipe.
4. Hot cocktails
If you're feeling a little sniffly (and/or overly sober), a soothing hot toddy may be in order. Our cocktail-loving colleague Sam Meyer swears by hot toddies to combat whatever ails him, and I'm inclined to agree. Here's the method he swears by:
But if you'd like to really celebrate the bounty of the season, winterized lemonade (recipe here) highlights the spectacular citrus available at this time of year, and spiced-up cider and a red wine, rum and cider combo do the same for apples.
And if all else fails, just spike your cocoa.
5. Beer bread
Hey, look what I made! There are few pleasures or opportunities for self-back-patting greater than those from whipping up homemade bread. Get all of the credit (and bread) with roughly as much effort as it takes to make boxed mac 'n' cheese with this simple method for beer bread.
Presumably, you panic-stocked up on beer, flour, sugar and a stick of butter before the storm, right? Butter a loaf pan and heat your oven to 375°F. Melt the rest of the stick of butter and keep it warm.
Mix 3 cups of self-rising flour (sifted, if you have the wherewithal), 1/4 cup of sugar and a bottle of your favorite beer (I like a stout or other dark brew) in a bowl until it makes a shaggy dough. Pat that into the buttered pan and pour the rest of the butter atop it. Bake it for about an hour or until the crust is crunchy, and if you possibly can, let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing and bragging.
So you've got soup, bread, ice cream, cereal and cocktails at the ready now, and hopefully that will hold you through the thaw. Did you have another winter shut-in staple you'd like to see get its due? I'm all ears and would love to attempt it should I ever get back home. Please share it in the comments below, and you just might see it shouted out in an upcoming feature.
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