Cook ourselves sane

Snow day number ten here in Vermont–the kind where tiny flakes plummet straight toward the ground for hours on end and you can virtually see them piling up on the cars, bird feeders, picnic table, and the long boughs of the giant white pines that surround us.

I’m not leaving my house to cook for any private chef clients–I’d probably get mired in a ditch on these narrow and winding dirt roads. instead I’m home with my children, riding the fine line between cozy togetherness and tap-dancing-on-each-other’s-last-nerve(s).

Since there’s nowhere to go, we started the day with steel cut oats, a luxury we rarely have time to make. After cooking the oats for 5 minutes, I finished them over a double boiler, which allowed me time to slice the strawberries and properly toast the almonds and coconut without the distraction of stirring the oats every few minutes. A bit of honey drizzled on with some creamy soy milk and we were eating like kings and queens of the squirrels.

When we had watched enough TV and put together our eighth puzzle and played several rounds of dinosaurs vs. dragons, it was time to make some more snow day food. Soup seemed like the right thing given the weather, the fact that my kids can help cut the veggies, and that we just finished eating a whole turkey breast that I roasted earlier in the week.

Last night I picked the rest of the meat off and boiled the carcass with leeks, carrots, celery, onions, and peppercorns. Before bed, I put the hot stock outside to cool overnight so it would be ready for soup-making. Today I simmered the stock, onion, carrots, celery, chickpeas, white wine, garlic and thyme for an hour on the stove, then added the shredded turkey, salt, pepper and some grated Parmesan. A steaming bowl with a piece of buttered toast served to give us something to do and the protein helped my children stop bouncing off the walls (for a few minutes).

Now my youngest is napping and my 5-year-old is in her room doing some Quiet Time. When the kids are back on the scene, we’ll get started on the Raspberry Linzer cookies, a divine recipe from Mary Estella’s Natural Foods Cookbook. These are maple-sweetened, full of protein, and dairy and egg-free.

  • 1 cup whole almonds (you can use some pecans too)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam (or strawberry or apricot)

Preheat oven to 350. Grind the nuts in a food processor till fine, then transfer to a large bowl. Grind oats in food processor till floury and transfer to the large bowl. Add the flour, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Add oil and syrup and mix well. With wet hands form 1 1/2 inch slighty flattened balls and arrange 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheets. Make an indentation with your thumb in the center. Put a teaspoon of jam in the hole. Bake for 12-15 minutes on the center rack or until the bottoms are golden. Cookies will harden as they cool so don’t overbake.

Not sure what we’ll make for dinner. Maybe we’ll have the soup again, over egg noodles, or I’ll make some hot biscuits to go with it. Since it’s so easy to descend into madness on days like these, it’s good to find ourselves using food to enjoy what may be (hopefully!) the last big storm of the season.