13 July 2015

Winter cooking on a cold day

There is a cold front sweeping in from Antarctica and the wind is gusting outside making the tall trees that surround our home sway back and forth. The wind is playing havoc with the Willie Wagtail that lives here in winter. He usually darts here and there, running and hovering low over the front lawn and I guess he's looking for beetles and grubs while he does it. But today the wind is blowing him sideways and he can't quite maintain his direction. I've decided to stay out of the wind today and I'm cocooned inside in warm clothes and a knitted shawl around my neck.

I picked a big bunch of curly kale and parsley for Sunny yesterday. This year is a very good one for kale. We've been growing it here for a long time and this year's crop is one of the best yet.

I enjoy days like today for the unusual experience of being effected by unpredictable, wild weather. On days like these my home provides a safe haven and a warm space but I think about the homeless people I know and hope they find a cup of hot coffee and a spot out of the wind. For many years I volunteered at our local Neighbourhood Centre and on days like these we invited people in for hot drinks and a respite from the cold. It never fails to amaze me how lucky I am and I always feel gratitude for the situation I am in; it could easily be otherwise. It could be for most of us.

One of the things that makes cold weather a joy is winter food and the warmth cooking brings, both physically and emotionally. Overnight I made a batch of pea and ham soup in the slow cooker so when we woke this morning the house was full of the aroma of warm nourishing soup. That alone made me feel warmer.

    A ham hock cooked in broth, cooling down to be cut up so the meat could be returned to the soup.

 Pea and ham soup.
 Pork, potatoes and kale.

We have Jamie with us today so he and I are having the soup and Hanno is feasting on his annual pork and kale meal, which usually lasts about three days. It's a traditional north German meal of boiled pork - kassler, pork sausage, ham hock - in a green swirl of kale and potatoes  It's thickened with rolled oats. Hanno swears it gets better with each passing day. We all had dessert of marmalade and pecan slice with warm, homemade custard. 

Tying up the peas that came loose in the wind.

Plenty of tea was consumed, the wind whistled through the trees and we all felt warm and cosy together inside. I spent the morning on the computer and sewing machine, Jamie and Hanno were gardening and when lunch was over, we spend the afternoon inside, out of the weather, with drawing, colouring in books, naps, knitting and music. It was a lovely Sunday.

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