Sunday, January 20, 2008

When Winter Hariras Its Ugly Head

You can tell its going to be a cold, cold day when the furnace kicks on about twice as frequently as usual... brrr!

So it's a good thing that I had planned to spend the morning making bread and soup. Not only would both activities keep me moving (and thus warm me up) as well as release some ambient heat into the loft, but the results of my efforts would keep me warm again and again.

I started by making a loaf of buckwheat bread, using local buckwheat and whole wheat flours as well as local sorghum. Sorry, no photo, but suffice it to say that the loaf turned out dark and speckled and substantial-tasting (though not too dense since it rose so well)... just the thing for a cold day!

I also pulled out ingredients to make harira, a Moroccan soup loaded with comfortingly starchy vegetables and the protein packed into both lentils and chickpeas. The last of my potatoes and carrots from the farmers' market went into this spicy stew, along with half a local red onion, a pint of home-canned crushed tomatoes, and a quart of homemade vegetable stock. (I use the recipe found in Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, if you're wondering.)

But what I love most about this soup is the spice. It combines cinnamon and ginger with turmeric and cayenne pepper –- and I add extra cayenne -– for something that smells a little sweet but packs some heat into every bite. It's the sort of soup that clears out your sinuses, a very useful thing when the air outside has a tendency to freeze the inside of your nose with every inhalation!

The soup simmered while the bread baked, and it's hard to beat that kind of fragrance wafting through your home. Sure, fresh cookies smell wonderful, and so do all other sweet things. But nothing says comfort to me on a cold day than the aroma of a savory soup and a wholesome, yeasty bread.

And when it all tastes so good and warming, well, it can't be beat.

So take that, Old Man Winter. You think you're so cool, but you've got nothing on the hot stuff coming out of my kitchen.


At 1/22/2008 9:48 PM, Blogger Bri said...

Yum! I can just imagine the windows fogging up as the fabulous smells of spicy soup and baking bread waft around the house. I really need to try my hand again at bread. So far, I've been rather underwhelmed by my attempts.

At 1/23/2008 7:04 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

You can do it, Bri! There are plenty of good, easy recipes that should get you back into the groove. And if you're having specific problems with your bread, drop me a line and we'll see if we can figure it out together!

At 1/23/2008 2:22 PM, Blogger Bri said...

Thanks Jennifer! I'm up to the challenge. Maybe I'll start this weekend. Ooo, now that I've said it, I better follow through. I'm excited. I need to buy some supplies.

At 1/23/2008 2:25 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, Bri. :-)

At 1/25/2008 2:09 PM, Blogger Ed Bruske said...

That menu sounds awfully good, Jennifer, especially to someone who years to make a great loaf of bread but doesn't have a real bread baking background. I hope to change that soon. I am marveling at these local grains...

At 1/25/2008 2:16 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

I hope you'll find a bread recipe that suits you very well, Ed. I think bread-baking is somewhat more forgiving than most people expect, but sometimes a recipe just won't co-operate!

I'm very happy to have a grist mill nearby. I still am not totally certain that the grains were all grown locally, esp. the wheat, but I think the buckwheat, spelt, oats, and corn probably were.


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