Friday, January 21, 2011

No Country for Cold Women

I was up early this morning letting the dog out to get the paper when I noticed the full moon slipping away behind the snow covered pines. Quite lovely.

Snow in south is a BIG deal. The headline in the paper today is "SNOWMYGOSH." Pretty funny. We aren't accustomed to getting that much of the white stuff and it causes a range of reactions from excitement to fear. Children wait anxiously to see whether or not school will be closed, men check antifreeze levels and wiper blades. I think that is what they are doing, anyway it's car stuff and I can't pay very close attention to it since I have my own problems. Every southern woman knows what I mean.

The grocery.

If you are a woman living south of the Mason Dixon line I know those words strike terror in your heart; you know what I'm talking about. For everyone else, let me explain.

The forecast of snow rivals only Thanksgiving in having the power to sentence us all to grocery hell, which does have parts that freeze over. It's where they keep the pizza. We check the forecast again, hoping we've misheard or that perhaps the meteorologist has changed his prediction. Husbands begin to call with updates and the eventual "If you are going you'd better go now."

We can put it off no longer.

I love winter but I must say at this point in the story yesterday, while dragging out scarves and gloves, making a grocery list and warming up my frozen car, I longed (secretly mind you, to avoid my children reminding me how much I complain when it's hot) to be wearing shorts and a tank top.

But I digress.  Approaching the store I crane my neck to see the parking lot. Yep, it's full. People are running. RUNNING to get carts. I pick up my pace as panic, and the spirit of competition kick in. I enter the store with one of the last available carts and people inside are darting around like they are dodging bullets.  The scene resembles news reports from countries with unstable governments.  Winter has staged a coup, it seems and disrupted everything.

I make my selections quickly and head home for part two of the Female Southern Snow Ritual also known as cooking everything in sight. I have no reason why we do this unless it is an ancient part of our brain that snaps into action sensing that starvation is imminent. This part of my brain doesn't know that the men in my house could live for weeks on milk and cereal. Actually, in the case of the women in this area we remember all too well an ice storm several years ago when the power was out for many days. It was then that I learned that I could bake potatoes in hot coals and cook an apple pie in an iron skillet in the fireplace. The great thing about preparing meals under those conditions is that no one ever criticizes the cook. If you've never made French toast over an open fire I recommend it highly. You could even do when you are camping OUTSIDE sometime.

Here's a recipe for the soup I made yesterday. I created it from some leftovers I had. (Don't tell my family. They LOVED it only because ignorance is bliss) Take these measurements with a grain of salt ;) since I didn't keep notes as I was cooking. Perhaps The Food Maven can perfect it for us.

Italian Chicken Soup

1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 can cannellini beans
6 cups chicken stock (I added some bouillon to amp the flavor)
Wide egg noodles, the amount depends on how "soupy" you want it.
1 TBS. Italian seasoning
salt, pepper to taste

Top with spinach and Parmesan cheese

Saute the first 5 ingredients together in a combination of half butter half olive oil until the onions are clear. Add remaining ingredients and cook on med. until the noodles are tender.  Simmer 10-15 minutes more and serve with a topping of fresh spinach and Parmesan cheese. I put these two ingredients on top of any chicken stock based soup in winter as a way to get extra greens when it is very cold and you don't want salad.

After that there's nothing to do but curl up with a book by the fire and wait for it to melt. Which if we are lucky, will be today.

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