Folks, This Just Ain’t Normal

I’m not sure what state this is I live in. Sure, we got socked last winter–by this time there was a couple of feet of snow on the ground and we added a few more before spring flooded us out. I got more than one grumbled, “welcome to Minnesota.” And I got out of the place on Big Stone Lake where I was snowed or iced in more than a few times. Headed to the higher ground of a prairie town.

This year…weird. Today’s high was in the forties, tomorrow…fifties. It’s brown except for a tiny bit of frosty-edged ice on the north side of the house that’ll be gone in twenty-four hours. I’m not complaining…but…

It seems everyone I talk to is enjoying the balmy winter weather, but for that nagging voice in their heads about climate change and global weirding. To quote Joel Salatin, “Folks, this just ain’t normal.”

We are so dry here that I had to dig for moist soil in the dripline of the shop roof to heel in a few of the somewhat dessicated Blue Solaise leeks I’d meant to replant a couple of months ago. A gal can dream–and also get her fingernails dirty–in weather like this. I didn’t even wear long johns today–I figure I have a few more days after this to get them all washed and dried for the below-freezing daytime highs–whenever those are going to come.

Of course this weather is easy on the propane usage, and I don’t mind that. Moving into a much bigger place has its disadvantages, and although the ol’ homestead has been weatherized, a four-bedroom is a lot of house to heat. Still, when the furnace went out between Christmas and New Year’s, it only got down to fifty overnight from the previous evening’s high of fifty-eight. M and I slept under hills of blankets just in case, so I had to actually look at the thermostat in the a.m. to realize that, no, it still isn’t working.

But, it was only 17 degrees outside that morning–concluding yet another balmy weekend–so we were pretty happy when the furnace repairman came. And I was only a tiny bit snarky when the very nice young man suggested that I really ought to schedule some preventative maintenance–the same preventative maintenance that I’d been trying to schedule since even before I closed on the place. Last I’d heard, it was going to be February at least.

Alas, it hasn’t been quite warm enough to preserve the kale I had growing over at the burned-out house. I walked the dog over to the “old neighborhood” this afternoon just to check. I don’t think it’s dead, but the last overnight plunge and the dry conditions haven’t treated the Toscano black kale too well. If I’d throw a sheet of plastic over it, I might’ve had a harvest–if being under that plastic during the heat of the day didn’t do it in.

Heck, I’m almost tempted to do a little digging up and moving of the perennial herbs that are still over there except I don’t have the space developed where I’m going to put them yet. Though with tomorrow’s temps, that remains a viable possibility, too.

What I have been doing is cooking. A dear friend stocked me up with a bundle of locally-raised beef and pork recently, and I threw a bone-in pork shoulder roast in the crockpot on Monday morning. I didn’t eat much of it for supper because I’d forgotten it was Women’s Civic Club night, and I’d said I was going to eat the meal Doreen prepared for us at The Cabin.

But I had a little bowlful of shredded Cajun-seasoned pork later on while watching Antiques Roadshow, and more for lunch yesterday in a wrap with saurkraut and brown mustard. Last night I figured I ought to be eating more vegetables (hey, saurkraut’s a vegetable!), so I simmered some chopped potato and carrot until tender, combined it with some pork and minced onion, and fried it up as hash.

Food of the Gods

While hash does contain vegetables and is probably one of the most delicious foods you can make out of leftovers (and is good as a leftover itself–scrambled with eggs for breakfast), I went sort-of-vegetarian tonight with a pot of Old World Pilaf to which I added a slew of dried vegetables–leeks, carrots, garlic, sweet peppers–plus herbs, and mushrooms.

The sort-of-vegetarian bit (and don’t yell at me–I know there isn’t really such a thing as “sort of” meat-free) is that Old World Pilaf (a Lundberg product mixture of rices, lentils, split peas, and black-eyed peas available at most any food coop) is really best IMHO simmered in some sort of meaty or miso-y stock. And, it just so happened that I had a little pork shoulder bone stock sitting around.

Waste not, want not! I tossed the potato and carrot ends and trimmings into the stock while I was cutting up the veggies for hash.

Tomorrow’s temps will be so warm, I’m not sure a hot meal will be necessary. The rest of the pork stock can wait in the fridge, and maybe I’ll re-visit the shredded pork wrap option–this time with pickled roasted sweet peppers. ‘Cuz they’re a vegetable, too!

Of course, if I had a winter greenhouse set up, I could be having a meal more reflective of this absurd winter we’re having so far–salad is starting to sound reasonable!


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