A week of root cellar meals

Back in the summer, I wrote a post called “A week of CSA meals” which outlined what I did with my CSA veggies for a week.  I have gotten some nice feedback on that and have been wanting to write a winter version – a week of root cellar/freezer/preserved meals, which illustrates what I’ve been making with everything I squirreled away last fall.  So, just over a week ago, I sat down, made a nice meal plan, filled with lots of wintery meal ideas. And then I got a few days in, work got busy, meals got less creative and then I got the stomach flu.  Ah, the best laid plans…

So, here’s a week (and a bit) of suppers made from ingredients in my root cellar, freezer, and pantry, in the real world, where plans get made and subsequently thrown out the window.

Sunday: We had friends in town and cooked up a feast.  We made quiche with a vegetable crust, a grated beet & carrot salad with some not-so-local, but still delicious greens, roasted potatoes, and fruit crisp for dessert.  (We had strawberries and rhubarb in the freezer and apples in the root cellar, and baked them with a crispy oatmeal top.)  The vegetable crust for the quiche was made of zucchini (which I had grated and frozen in the summer), grated parsnip, and grated carrot.  See recipe at the bottom of this post. The quiche itself was a mushroom, goat cheese quiche.

Monday: Parsnip apple soup with fried potatoes on the side.  The parsnip soup is loosely made as follows:  I chopped and sauteed an onion and a couple cloves of garlic.  I added a teaspoon or so of each of the following spices: curry powder, ginger, garam masala. Then I took about 4-5 large parsnips, peeled and chopped, and added them to the onion mixture and covered them with water.  I peeled and chopped 2 apples and threw them in there too.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are soft.  Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as any additional spices.  Meanwhile I boiled the potatoes in a separate pot until soft, and then fried them in a bit of oil.  If I’m in the mood for comfort food, I’ll add cheddar cheese to the top.

Tuesday: Homemade macaroni and cheese.  I like to add vegetables to the cheese-noodle mixture.  In the winter months, mushrooms are really good, as are the green beans I froze last summer.  Once the cheese-noodle-vegetable mixture has been mixed up and spread into the baking pan, I add a jar of (drained) tomatoes to the top and then bake it.

Wednesday: Quick week night meal.  Back in the summer when I was tomato canning with a friend, we canned up the tomato liquid that was left over.  (I don’t like my canned tomatoes to be too watery.)  This tomato juice/pulp makes AMAZING soup.  Chop up and saute an onion and a clove or two of garlic, add some salt and basil, and pour in a litre of tomato liquid.  Bring to a boil.  Soup!  Pair with some cheese on toast.

Thursday: Another quick week night meal.  Egg sandwich for dinner.  Fried egg on nice bread.  I can’t actually remember what all I put on this sandwich, but I often add a little pesto or sprouts.

Friday – Monday: Okay, this is where things all fell apart.  I wasn’t feeling great at this point.  And Friday night through to early Tuesday I basically just ate plain rice, oatmeal, applesauce, and anything else that was sufficiently bland as to not upset my stomach further.  Ugh. Let’s move on.

Tuesday: I worked up enough motivation and appetite to cook again!  Yay!  I started simple, with an old stand-by: squash soup.  This batch also had some carrots, parsnips, and an apple.

Wednesday: Still dragging a bit from the flu.  Vitamins!  I need vitamins!  I went through the root cellar for inspiration. Beets? Yes! Carrots? Yes! Apples? Yes.  Into the food processor they went (using the grating attachment).  Then I found cranberries in the freezer. Yes, they’ll make a nice addition.  More grated salad for me, with a simple olive oil, lime, basil dressing.  I also felt like I needed comfort food.  Hmm… potatoes?  Yes, potatoes.  So, we made potato salad.  The kind my mom makes, with boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, and mayo.  I like to add a little pesto for flavour.

Thursday: Back into the swing of things!  Since I started this tale with a dinner party, I’ll end with one too.  We cooked up a meal for some friends (as our wedding present to them).  First course, Quebec cheeses with dilly beans, blueberry apple chutney, and pickled beets.  Second course: Prime rib roast (we modified this braising recipe), roasted root vegetables, and mashed potatoes.  Third course: pumpkin pudding and ginger snap cookies.  The beef was from a freezer order in the fall, veggies from the root cellar, and pumpkin from the freezer.

And there you have it.  A week of meals using primarily ingredients from our root cellar, freezer, and supply of preserves.

What are your favourite winter meals?

Yours in Food,

Marla

(Note: To give you a sense of what I’m eating at other times of the day, my lunches are generally leftovers from the night before.  Breakfasts are usually one of the following: oatmeal with frozen fruit; cornmeal with cheese, eggs, and salsa; smoothies with toast; and sometimes rice with veggies and eggs.  Snacks are often nut-based or include hummus.  My partner regularly whips up a batch of homemade hummus and there’s usually some in the fridge.)

Golden Vegetable Crust

From Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

2 cups coarsely-grated summer squash
1/2 cup coarsely grated parsnip
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrot
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (I used buckwheat and it worked beautifully)
(extra butter to melt on top)

Place the grated squash in a colander. Salt it lightly, and let it stand for 10 minutes over a bowl or sink. Squeeze out all excess moisture. (Marla’s note: if using frozen squash, simply defrost and drain off excess water.)
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Transfer mixture to a buttered 9-ich pie pan and form a crust with fork or fingers.
Bake for 40 minutes at 375° F. Midway through baking, brush the top surface with extra melted butter.

Fill crust with quiche batter, or any other savory pie filling you can find or concoct.

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