Mid-continent, 45th parallel, January


winter 2011 007.jpg
Dramatic, moonlit prairie, -14 degree F, fresh snow, no wind

I notice that a lot of my recent pictures are dark... it's the season. I actually looked forward to winter this year. I looked forward to the hibernating comfort of being warm against the cold. Of resting while the land is under snow. Well... rest for me. The work of snow removal and feeding animals in subzero temperatures falls entirely on Mike's shoulders. And I think it causes those strong shoulders to ache.

It never topped 0 degrees F yesterday. School was delayed two hours due to da vistlin' driftin' snow. Mike reminded us over dinner that the last entire day of subzero temps was January 15, 2010. We are passing the coldest days of the year. The shortest days of sunlight have come and gone.

It's funny to wake up to 13 degrees above zero and be excited that it's so warm! Walking on a windless 13 degree day makes you warm enough to unzip your parka. It's all perspective and what you get used to. Like the monochromatic world all around us. The senses slow down. You have to search for the subtleties in the landscape, to see the different shades of white in the wind sculpted snow drifts. It's a kind of sensory deprivation.

Local foods-wise, the pantry stores are getting lower and the choices seem to come down to squash, sweet corn, beets. Oh... we've still got the jalapeño relish and Italian tomato sauce left. But it's seems ok to limit the palette for a while-- to have some calm monotony in the diet to match the calm monotony of the land. I am going to confess to cooking with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup two nights in a row-- a first in my life.

Oooo!! I just remembered there's a potluck at church on Sunday. Frankly, could there be anything more pleasing than a Lutheran church potluck in January? You can smell the coffee brewing from your pew and you know it will be all you can eat Calico bean hotdish, rice pudding, and hopefully someone will bring the Rueben Meatballs* again. The kids run around like maniacs, the adults have all you can drink coffee, and the comfort food is abundant. Let the good times roll. That will provide a brighter picture for Sunday's blog entry.

There's no point in these ramblings except, it's the season to let the world narrow to the very simplest of comforts. Warmth. Basic food. Good company. Close to home. The dark closes in and just a little candlelight makes it safe to curl up and enjoy the cold stillness.

*At the last church potluck dinner I raved about the Rueben Meatball hotdish. Didn't find out who made it, but the next week I found the handwritten recipe anonymously place in our mailbox. Thank you!


Nothing better than a potluck, and the men putting there silverware in their shirt pockets, so to keep one hand free to carry 2 plates, of the great food. MMMMMM, can almost smell the coffee and the mixture of differnt foods in the air, enjoy.

You mentioned winter comfort foods. One of my favorite winter quick meals is white chicken chile. I make two versions, one for me, one for Ludy. Hers has white beans, mine has potatoes and corn. If you have not tried it, let me know and I will send you my recipe.

We don't have the ground drifting to deal with, but with my steep driveway, I get lots of quality time with a snowblower and shovel. We have only had 3 days this month that I did not have to clean the driveway, and some days it was done several time.

I have a big stack of egg cartons for you.

Ron and Ludy

-20 degrees F this morning.


Please send along the recipe for white chicken chili. We grew dry white beans on the farm and so I have about 40 pounds of those (plus the chicken and the sweet corn). Sounds like a perfect winter meal! I has someone recently ask me to post some recipes here on the blog... so feel free to leave the recipe here if that works for you.

Hey! I could even make that white chicken chili to bring to the potluck on Sunday. But I'll probably bring deviled eggs because I have a lot of eggs gathering (they are laying 2 dozen a day now).

Stay warm!


Well, I only have 3 chicken ladies, and I only recieve 1 egg and thats enough, they are 4yrs. old. I have made the chicken chili and it was very good. In Racheal Rays cookbook there is a recipe with turkey chili. mmmmmmm. Instead of making deviled eggs, bring the eggs to sell, and make the Chili instead.

Kathy, I hope that you will post the Reuben Meatball recipe, I had thought that I had taken a copy from you, but I guess not. Kelley opened a jar of sauerkraut for me yesterday, so I've got the ingredients ready! Carolyn said yesterday that she made her version of white bean chile, and impulsively added a small can of very hot green chiles..and now she can't eat it, even with doctoring
the batch, draining the liquid, etc. Thought probably you or Kelley could handle that, or Paul...seems to me he liked to eat stuff so hot that he broke into a sweat!! Hope you are all staying warm...this is old fashioned Minnesota weather...Love, Mom


1 Packet McCormick white chicken chili seasoning mix
1 pound chicken breast
1 can white beans

Follow directions on the back of the seasoning mix. We usually add a can of cream of chicken soup, and a can of chicken broth to make it juicier.

Ron’s version

As above, except forget the dumb beans. Instead, take a couple of medium size potatoes (or one large), peal, and cut into ¼” cubes. Put in a pan with just enough water to cover and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil, and then shut off the heat. Cook the chicken, add the seasoning mix and a cup of the potato water. Put the diced potatoes and a can of drained, whole-kernel corn (Or the equivalent volume of home grown) to the chicken. Add the chicken broth, and the cream of chicken soup. Depending on how fluid you like your chili, you can add more of the potato water.

I first ate the potato/corn version in a restaurant in Kentucky, served as an appetizer. Good stuff, hope you enjoy

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on January 19, 2011 5:16 AM.

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