Winter food

122212 Winter FoodIt’s hard to believe that the first day of winter was only yesterday.  It feels like we have been living in darkness for weeks, and the colder weather mixed with snow hardly felt like autumn.

My preference for food now seems to follow the rhythm of the seasons. Especially living here, where produce is influenced by the time of year. Even though a lot of produce comes from nearby countries such as Spain and Italy, there isn’t the same availability as in summer due to the growing season. And the prices are definitely higher. I can always tell when winter is arriving, as the cost of a cucumber goes from 39 cents to 1 euro and 30 cents.

The other day I had planned to make steamed broccoli, sautéed in garlic and oil and served beside a fried egg. But the very few heads of broccoli I found in the grocery store were 3,99€! Instead, I opted for some nice white asparagus from Peru (the second largest producer of asparagus, with Germany being the third), which is rarely available here outside of asparagus season. And, it was on sale! So we steamed that instead, paired with the planned fried egg. A nice alternative (and less fat) to asparagus with hollandaise, and dipping asparagus into the egg yolk is quite heavenly. Especially those decadent tips which I always save until the end (hubby almost had a fork jabbed into his hand when he pretended to reach over and steal my precious tips).

Popular produce this time of year is squash and the cabbage family including Brussels sprouts, Grün Kohl (kale), and red cabbage. I love Brussels sprouts, especially the way Hubby makes them. After removing any brown leaves (which is very few if they are just purchased fresh from the market) and trimming the ends, he puts them in a casserole dish, tosses them in olive oil, grinds in fresh salt and pepper and adds fresh shaved garlic using a mandolin. Then into a hot oven for five or ten minutes to get them started and when they are hot he splashes white wine over top, just enough to allow them to steam and not burn before they are cooked. He covers the dish with tin foil, and bakes them in the oven for about 45 minutes at 350F.  Easy peasy, and they taste incredible. I love cooked vegetables where you can actually still taste the vegetable. These little jewels are great served as a side with a nice grilled steak (like we are having tonight), or can be a delightful meal all on their own. And they are worth the little gassy side effect, especially if you aren’t going out in public later.

Another popular thing in grocery stores these days are clementines and fresh nuts. For about a month now the stores have had big bins of bulk walnuts, hazelnuts and peanuts. In the past I only bought these kind of nuts right before Christmas, but they were so inviting that I decided why not have them earlier. Am I ever glad I did! I didn’t realize how delicious fresh cracked walnuts can taste, and for an afternoon pick-me-up, fresh peanuts are wonderful (and taste much better without all the salt). Paired with a sweet clementine, this combination is a match made in heaven. Besides, the cracking is fun and a great stress reliever!

Duck is very popular this time of year, especially since it is the traditional dish served on Christmas, and needs to be pre-ordered. We ordered ours this week, along with a turkey that we plan to make and share with family on Boxing Day (for a traditional Canadian meal). With all these planned meat meals, we are having a steaming bowl of mussels tomorrow (Hubby managed to find some yesterday that weren’t frozen!).

Celebrate winter and all the comfort food that goes with it, including soups, stews, hearty casseroles, and root vegetables. Light candles, soak in long hot baths, and take advantage of the darker days by getting more sleep. For a burst of sunshine, snack on a clementine. And if Christmas is stressing you out, crack a nut.

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

5 thoughts on “Winter food

  1. What a lovely note! We are together with family at the Works (a gorment burger joint) looking out and watching the snow… Why crack a nut? Dad and I are drinking a Barking Squirrel…a nice beer with a picture of a squirrel looking at a nut trying to figure out how to break it!

    Merry Christmas!


  2. After a childhood of dreading the brussel sprout I think I am ready to give them another go now that you have made them sound so delicious! After getting such cudos this past weekend when serving Ralphs famous duck with merlot onions I know I can’t go wrong with one of his recipes!!
    Hope you had a fabulous Christmas!


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