1 April 2014

Leftover Lentils Breakfast Pizza

Part salad, part sandwich, part eggs and toast... hard to pin down, but entirely moreish.


(This is a Free Style entry into the Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge: keep reading to find out how to help us win!)

Use up leftovers from the fridge to make this protein-packed breakfast pizza.  Makes a good breakfast, a great lunch, or a really fantastic post-workout snack.

Smoky Lentil & Egg Breakfast Pizza

1/2 c. canned green lentils*, rinsed and drained
1/2 med yellow or white onion*, minced
1 small fresh pepper, minced (hot or sweet, whichever you prefer at breakfast/brunch/post-workout-snack hour; we used jalapeno)
7 cm (~2.5 inches) section of chorizo , diced
1/3 c. crumbled feta or queso fresco (use queso fresco if you have it, it's difficult to come by here so we used feta)
2 lemon wedges**
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
2 small naan bread or 2 greek pita
olive oil for drizzling
2 handfuls of leafy greens such as arugula, turnip green, spinach or kale
2 eggs

*a good way to use leftovers from the rice & lentil cakes with dal recipe
** might be leftover from your dinner party bar...

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

The cooked or canned lentils, the smoked paprika and the lemon wedges
are MUSTS.  Pretty much anything else can be swapped for something
else in your fridge or pantry.  I just can't put The Moose Curry Experience
guarantee behind it.
In a bowl, mix together lentils, onion, pepper, chorizo and cheese.  Squeeze lemon juice over the mixture, season with salt and smoked paprika, and toss to distribute. (If your chorizo is pre-cooked, you can stop here and have a lovely salad.)

Place naan or pita on baking sheet.  Drizzle bread with a reasonable but generous amount of olive oil, then USE YOUR CLEAN HANDS to spread the oil evenly over the bread.  Don't wash your hands yet.  Use your oil-covered hands to transfer the leafy greens from your prep board and spread them on the bread (this leaves some oil on the greens, but not too much).  Don't wash up yet... no need to waste the oil, rub what's left into your hands as a moisturizer!

Spoon half the lentil mixture onto each bread, leaving the center free of lentils.

Carefully crack an egg into the middle of each bread (your lentil mixture is acting like a wall to keep it in place... pretty clever, eh?). Sprinkle the egg with more smoked paprika to garnish.

Transfer to oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350F.  Bake for 22 minutes (in our oven this does a thick but still runny egg... cook more or less depending how you like your eggs). 

Serve on a plate and eat at the table, or transfer to a cutting board and eat standing up at the counter.

22 minutes at 350F gives you a hot, thick and runny yolk, just the way you should like it.  If you don't like a runny yolk (ahem, caribougrrl...) leave it in for longer, or maybe just take advantage of uneven heat in your oven and eat the more-cooked one.

Makes 2 pizzas.  Serves 4 for snacks, 2 for brunch, or 1 really hungry person any time of day.

~~~

We left you with some strange leftover ingredients the night of your Reconstructed Dal and Rice dinner party. I mean, who uses just half an onion? Part of a can of green lentils? What are you supposed to do with that?  Breakfast pizza, that's what.

So you had too much fun and stayed up too late, that's okay.  You probably woke up feeling anxious for no apparent reason... maybe you dragged your over-tired self out for a run jog speedwalk long, sluggish dog walk just to prove you hadn't really overdone it.

Anyway, you're likely hungry and looking at a bunch of bits and pieces of stuff in the fridge that don't seem to go together.  Maybe you focused so much on having everything for the party, you forgot to plan anything specific for the next day.

No problem.  This is so easy, you can make it before your first cup of coffee.   (Er, during your first cup of coffee anyway.)  Make a pot of coffee.  Take the lazy way out and stream a gentle but happy Songza playlist.  And make this salad-sandwich-eggs&toast-leftover-lentils pizza-like-thing.  

(If you managed the faster than a sluggish dog walk activity, the cooking time is exactly right for stretching.)  

I promise you won't be sorry.

~~~

Now for the shameless self-promotion. If you like this recipe, please say so! Part of the contest criteria is how well received the lentil recipes are. Leave us a comment on this page*** telling us how delicious the meal looks. Go to the Canadian Lentils Facebook Page and "like", "share", and/or comment on our recipe. Go there anyway, as it's your best source right now to find inspiration for what to do with lentils.

***there seem to be problems leaving comments from iProducts... I am still trying to figure out how to fix this, but in the meantime, feel free to leave a comment on the Canadian Lentils Facebook post!

30 March 2014

Reconstructed Dal and Rice

Re-imagining the classic dal and rice: green lentil & basmati patties served with a red lentil dal.


(This is a Main Dish entry into the Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge: keep reading to find out how to help us win!)


These slightly sweet and crispy rice and lentil patties are the perfect foil for this spicy and smooth red lentil dal.


Sambar Dal and Rice, Deconstructed Reconstructed


Don't be overwhelmed by the lengthy recipe!  Despite the long list of ingredients, this meal is not all that complicated to prepare.  It is time consuming but you can take some simple short cuts:  use leftover rice from a previous meal; use canned lentils for the rice patties rather than getting out another pot; make the sambar powder and garam masala ahead of time (or buy these commercially prepared).  You can mix and form the rice patties before making the dal (up to a day ahead), or while the dal is cooling and before blending.

the sambar powder*:
The sambar dal has a lot of hidden secrets:  the heat of the chilies is
supported by a wide array of spices and seasonings.

10 dried red peppers (hot)
1 tbsp dried red lentil
1 tbsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Heat a dry cast iron skillet over med-high.  Add peppers, lentils, coriander, fenugreek, and peppercorns to the hot pan, stir together, then reduce heat to medium.  Toast until aromatic and golden being careful not to burn the spices.  Remove from heat and tip into a heat proof bowl.  Allow to cool completely.  Use a spice (or coffee) grinder to grind into a fine powder.  Stir turmeric into mixture.  Store in a clean jar.


the dal:

All the prep work is done.  Red lentils are rinsed and drained; garlic, ginger,
and shallots are crushed, grated and sliced; the sambar powder is
cooled and ground.

1/2 c. dried red lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp sambar powder 
3-1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp salt
1 lemon, juiced


for the temper:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida




Rinse lentils and drain.

Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add shallot, ginger and garlic.  Cook, stirring regularly, until shallots are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add sambar powder and stir to coat. There is a lot of heat in the sambar which will contrast wonderfully with the sweetness in the rice patties, but if you are shy of spicy heat, reduce the amount of sambar used by about half.  You want to maintain the complex flavour of the sambar and don't panic, between the temper and the rice patties the heat does dissipate.

Add lentils and stir thoroughly, cooking for 1-2 minutes.  Add water and salt.  Raise heat to med-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Remove from heat and let cool. Working in batches, puree the dal in a blender (or use an immersion blender in the pot).  Your dal should be quite thick, and will thicken a bit more. Don't be tempted to thin it out! You still have liquid to add and recall that we are aiming for a sauce, not a soup.

Return dal to its pot and reheat about the same time you begin to cook the rice and lentil patties.  Just before serving, make the temper by heating olive oil over med-low heat; add the cumin and asafoetida, stirring until the seeds are toasted.  

Stir the lemon juice into the dal, then gently stir the temper in but do not fully mix: leave streaks of oil and cumin seed visible.  (Why?  It's prettier that way.)


the lentil and rice patties:

1 tbsp sunflower oil
Using canned green lentils saves you the trouble of washing yet another
saucepan...
1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 onion, sliced very thinly
1-1/2 tsp garam masala
1 carrot, shredded
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/3 c. raisins or dried currants
1 c. canned green lentils, rinsed and drained (or green lentils cooked in advance)
3/4 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp mango chutney
2 c. leftover cooked rice
1 egg, beaten
rice flour, as needed
oil for pan-frying (sunflower or peanut)

Put 1 tbsp of oil and mustard seeds in a cold skillet and heat over medium until the mustard seeds pop.  You might want to have a lid handy to avoid needing to sweep up popped mustard.  When the popping starts to slow down, add onions and saute 1-2 minutes to soften. 

Add carrot, ginger and garam masala to the pan and saute until carrots soften, about 2-3 minutes.  Add raisins, lentils and mango chutney.  Stir to mix well.  Reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring frequently, until the moisture is gone and there is a slight caramelization on the onion, carrots and lentils.


The turmeric gives the rice patty a happy yellow colour.  Plus, you know
when the mixture is well combined because it's fully stained with the turmeric.
In a mixing bowl, combine lentil mixture with all the remaining ingredients  Mix thoroughly using your hands.  You will know it's well-mixed when the rice is all coloured yellow from the turmeric.  The mixture should hold a form when pressed together.  If it's too wet, add rice flour (or cornstarch or potato starch, whatever absorbent and fine-textured flour you have on hand) a teaspoon or two at a time, mixing between additions until you get a slightly sticky mix that holds a shape.

Form the rice mixture into patties with your hands.  Use a small handful (about 2 tbsp) of mix for each patty; this will give you 18-24 patties (depending on the size of your hand and your interpretation of small...).  Dredge in rice flour (or etc. as above) and place on a tray.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer (up to a day) to allow them to set.

Heat a generous amount of frying oil (a thick layer) in a large skillet over medium-high.  The oil is ready when tiny bubbles form quickly around a wooden spoon handle pressed against the bottom of the skillet.  Turn the heat down slightly and cook the patties in batches, until golden brown and crispy on the outside (about 2 minutes per side).  Drain on brown paper.


to serve:

Usually we think of dal being served over rice, but for this dish, plate it the other way around.  Put about 1/2 c. of dal on each plate, place 3-4 rice cakes on the dal and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.  Serve with onion salad and plain yogurt.


A lemony onion salad and a sprinkle of cilantro add a fresh lightening touch to the meal.

This recipe makes about 6 servings.  Leftovers reheat well in the microwave for an office lunch.  The patties also reheat well in a hot oven and even make a good cold snack. 



~~~

Here on the east coast of the country, we are still being hounded by this long, miserable, cold winter.  We are well and truly entrenched in store-cupboard cooking as we hunker down to wait it out. Dry and tinned goods, preserves, vegetables that store well, frozen things... it doesn't start out sounding like any good could come of it.  Don't underestimate pantry cooking.  And make no mistake, this interpretation of dal with rice is dinner party worthy.  Lentils can be that sexy.  (As an added bonus, a vegetarian friendly meal that won't leave meat-eaters wondering what else there is to eat.) 

We always have lentils in the pantry.  We don't always think "what can we do with these lentils", more often it's "this recipe calls for lentils, I'm sure we have some somewhere".   The Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge made us start to think about what we can do with these lentils.  This is one of those meals we've had in our back pocket for a while but were spurred to post it by the contest.  So lucky you, thanks to the folks at lentils.ca you can astound your friends with your ingenious interpretation of a comfort classic.  

Now for the shameless self-promotion.  If you like this recipe, please say so!  Part of the contest criteria is  how well received the lentil recipes are.  Leave us a comment on this page telling us how delicious the meal looks.  Go to the Canadian Lentils Facebook Page and "like", "share", and/or comment on our recipe.  Go there anyway, as it's your best source right now to find inspiration for what to do with the lentils you remember in the back of your cupboard... 

(And, man, if we win, we can finally replace that kitchen scale caribougrrl the cats broke.)

15 March 2014

The Sherry Thief's Stew

You don't want to waste that last packet of moose from the back of the freezer on a recipe that could go wrong, so don't.  Stick to the basics: moose, booze, berries, root vegetables, and a slow oven.




Sherried Moose Stew

2 tbsp bacon fat
Moose, berries and jelly from the wild.  Root vegetables
are about the only local veg available this time of year,
but still in great shape.
4 cups* moose meat, whatever cut is left in the freezer, thawed, cut into stewing chunks
2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
3 shallots, finely chopped
a few sprigs of thyme, dug out from under the snow (or perhaps growing or hanging to dry in your kitchen window because you are smarter than we are)
1 bay leaf
5 black peppercorns
5 parsnips, cut in half lengthwise then sliced
The sweet from the sherry and apple jelly, and the tart of the
cranberries are simple ways to add depth.
3 carrots, prepare 2 of these like the parsnips and divvy the third one up amongst your dogs
4 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 c. sweet sherry, stolen from that nice British lady down the street**
1/4 c. apple jelly (or use red currant or rose hip)
3 c. water
1/2 c. frozen wild cranberries

*Fefe would normally weigh this for you but someone (someone of the feline variety for sure, never ever someone of the caribougrrl variety), broke the scale by dropping it pushing it off the counter
**in this case, Fefe's mother... she also might have known we were taking it, but we haven't yet returned the remainder of the bottle so it still counts as stolen...



Comfort Cove parsnips for comfort food.
Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large cast iron dutch oven over medium heat, melt the bacon fat.  Season moose with salt and pepper and toss with flour.  Brown moose, in batches if necessary, and set aside.

Add a bit more bacon fat if needed to saute shallots, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns in moose juice for about 5 minutes.  Add parsnips, carrots and garlic, stirring regularly for 10 minutes.  Don't let the garlic burn: adjust your heat and/or fat as necessary.

Deglaze with sherry.  Add jelly, browned moose, water and cranberries to the pot.  Bring to a simmery-boil, stirring occasionally.  Don't worry about hunks of jelly, these will meld into the stew before you eat it.

Put lid on the dutch oven and transfer to oven.  Check every 45 minutes or so to make sure there's sufficient liquid; add more water if you need it.  Cook for 2 hours (or more or less; test the moose with a fork for doneness every once in a while... it's done when the moose is tender and the liquid is thickened).

We served it with roasted turnip (rutabaga, swede).  


~~~


Fefe made this stew during the last major deep freeze.
 
It's difficult to gauge the weather by looking outside... 


So cold, the dishwasher has been clogged with ice nearly every morning.


Our thyme, when we can find it, is holding up rather well despite the winter.

So cold, the cats have taken to sleeping under the covers.


Not only were there cats under the covers, but they refused to get out of bed.

So cold, we are supplying our neighbours with water via garden hose, because they forgot, just one night, to leave a drip and the wait list for water line repairs is weeks long.

So cold, the frost is clawing at the windows to get in.

Okay, maybe the windows hint at the weather outside even if you can't see it.


So cold, the only way to keep the kitchen warm is with the baseboard heaters and the oven.  So cold, we need a low and slow cooked meal. 

Raid your freezer, your root cellar, your pantry, your liquor cabinet... do whatever you have to do to minimize the time you spend out in the bitter cold.  Steal sherry from your mom mum if it means you can avoid a trip to the store.


I got up for this?

(In the interest of full disclosure, as I'm typing, it's raining outside -- such is March, or perhaps such is Newfoundland -- but guaranteed we've got some more too-cold-to-eat-salad weather to get through.  Perhaps the most comforting of comfort foods, a slightly sweet moose stew, can get us through.)

28 February 2014

Be My, Be My Dutch Baby

In these northern climates, we really should be taking a cue from the south and use Mardi Gras as an excuse to fend off the dregs of winter with beads, sequins and feathers.  Instead, we will sit at home with our pancakes. 


Rather than the usual humdrum stack of hotcakes, the least we can do is add some excitement and make one uber-impressive big puffy pancake.



Dutch Baby Pancake with Spiced Apples

Dutch baby is a lot like an enormous Yorkshire pudding. The pancake itself is not overy sweet, and the ginger and black pepper give the apples a surprising but pleasant heat... a perfect counter to the sweet and slight tart of the apples. Nevermind how good it tastes though, the wow factor when you pull it out of the oven will make you feel like you didn't work hard enough for it.

for the pancake:

In the spirit of Fat Tuesday, use up some of the good stuff.
4 eggs
1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c. (scant) whole wheat flour
1 c. milk
4 tsp local honey
1 tbsp lard or butter


for the apple topping:
 
2 or 3 med-sized apples*
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp butter or lard


*we used Spartan apples; by this time of year almost any apple picked last fall, particularly if it wasn't stored well, is more of a cooking apple than an eating apple... use a tart apple for best results

When the dutch baby is done, it's puffed up all over and golden brown.  It will collapse as it begins to cool, don't worry about that.  Just make sure everyone's in the kitchen to see it emerge from the oven.

Pre-heat oven to 425F.  Put a cold cast iron skillet in the oven during the pre-heat so that the pan is good and hot when it's time to cook the dutch baby.

Put eggs, flour, milk and honey in a blender (in that order).  Blend on a low-ish speed to combine, then on a not-quite-high speed for 30-45 seconds.  Let sit at room temp while the oven finishes heating. 

When the oven is hot, open it and drop the lard onto the pan, quickly close the door.  Whiz the batter in the blender again to mix.  By now the lard should be melted.  Working quickly, open the oven and pull out the rack with the pan, pour the batter into the hot fat, push the rack back in, and close the door.  Turn the oven down to 400F and cook for 20-25 minutes.  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN until at least 20 minutes has passed. 

Tart apples sweetened with a touch of honey are a good complement to
the heat of the ginger and pepper.
When you put the pancakes in the oven, get the apples started.  Toss the apple with lemon juice as you slice.  Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, add apples and toss to coat, let cook 2 minutes.  Add spices, toss to coat, and cook until the apples soften, about 6 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Drizzle with honey, put a lid on the skillet and turn the heat down low to finish cooking (about 3-5 minutes).  Stir just before serving.

The pancake is done when it is puffed up high (including the center) and is golden brown. If you peek at it at 20 minutes and it's not done, close the door quickly and wait for 3-5 minutes longer.

To serve: Spoon apple mixture over dutch baby and sprinkle with icing sugar, to taste.

Mimic the outdoors inside: icing sugar creates a bit of snowfall on the apple-topped dutch baby.
 
~~~

Newfoundland is a quirky place. I don't mean that disparagingly, it's just the way of things. One of it's quirks is around Mardi Gras.  Every year, people dress up in costumes and converge on George Street in St. John's for a big outdoor street party.  Lots of dancing, lots of drinking, prizes for the best costumes... sounds not so strange for a Mardi Gras event, right?  Except it's in October.  The part of October more commonly known as Hallowe'en.  By which, I mean the weekend closest to (so, also, never on an actual Tuesday).

Maybe that's because it's still warm enough in October to mill around outdoors with a plastic cup of booze in your hands, dressed in a costume of questionable decorum? (Though that still doesn't explain calling it Mardi Gras).  The real Fat Tuesday, on the other hand, occurs in the worst part of winter... right when the rest of the civilized northern hemisphere is starting to believe spring will actually happen sometime soon; but we know it won't, not here.  That same trick of the Atlantic Ocean which keeps Newfoundland warm-ish through October pulls a fast one in March and does not let us shake winter off for a good long time yet. 

Having watched the entire available library of Treme while stuck indoors so much over the last few months, Fefe Noir and I have, admittedly, developed a little bit of New-Orleans-style-Mardi-Gras envy.  What we NEED this time of year is a big old silly street party, a way to defy the bleak outlook.  Fight the winter with beads, sequins, feathers and outdoor dancing. 

Realistically, we will stay in... but maybe we'll get all dressed up and listen to some marching band jazz while we eat our pancakes.


12 February 2014

A Band-Aid Solution for Winter (but a solution nonetheless)

Not for the feint of heart: two of the most dangerous foods in existence* together in one dish.  Yeah, okay, the danger might be abstract for most of us, but the magic of peanut butter with shrimp is very tangible.

*peanuts and shellfish, just ask any grade-schooler...


Shrimp Tacos
Roast garlic and peppers in a dry cast iron skillet, turning
regularly for even cooking.

for the peanut salsa:

10 cloves garlic
10 dried arbol chilies
1 dried pasilla chili
4 dried morita chilies
6 black peppercorns
1 star of star anise (broken up)
1/2 c. natural peanut butter (the ingredients should read: peanuts; avoid anything with a longer list)
4 tbsp cider vinegar
salt to taste
2 tbsp water

for the shrimp:

1-2 fresh serrano peppers (optionally roasted, see instructions)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp avocado oil
2 trays** of Labrador ice shrimp*** 
1/4 fresh lemon

**$5-worth, locally. I forgot to weigh it before we ate it.  Let's just say cook enough for the number of people you are serving and adjust the peppers and garlic to taste.

***also known as coldwater shrimp, north atlantic shrimp, northern shrimp, northern prawn, or salad shrimp... they're the really little ones.  If you don't have a local salad shrimp fishery, substitute with your most sustainable shrimp or prawn option.

A note for Newfoundlanders about the dried peppers:  I have no idea where you can buy these other than ordering them through the miracle of the internet.  I buy them at Mexican groceries when I'm in Ontario visiting family (a large portion of my return luggage is always dedicated to food).  Dried peppers are very light and travel well, so keep your eyes out when you're away.  In the meantime, the whole long red dried chili peppers are a good substitute for arbol chilies.  I have heard a rumour recently that chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can now be purchased at the Dominion on Stavanger Drive in town... having never tried them, I don't know how they would do, but could work as a substitute for the other peppers which lend a subtle smoky flavour to the salsa (probably use fewer peppers, but taste as you go).


Make the peanut sauce: Roast garlic (and, optionally, fresh hot peppers for the shrimp) by putting separated cloves, leaving the paper on, in a dry cast iron skillet over med-high heat.  Turn garlic periodically to roast evenly.  It's alright to let it get singed; the garlic is done once it's soft.  If you are doing fresh peppers for your shrimp, let the pepper singe and blister before removing from the pan. 

While the garlic is roasting, toss the dried peppers, peppercorns and star anise into the pan.  Once the peppers are hot and limp, but before they burn, remove all the dried spices and put into a heat-proof bowl.  Pour boiling water over them to cover and weigh the peppers down with a plate or bowl to keep them submerged.  Let them soak for at least 20 minutes.

Pour off the liquid and reserve (this will be nicely scented with the star anise and peppercorn).  If you want a scorching hot sauce, scrape the seeds and flesh from the pepper skins with a flat knife.  If you want a less hot sauce, run the soaked pepper and spices through a food mill to separate the seeds and skin from the flesh.  I used the seeds from the pasilla and morita peppers but not from the arbol (I'm a middle kid thus prone to compromise.  Fefe would have used all the seeds.).  Squeeze the now cool roasted garlic from it's paper and mash in a mixing bowl with the pepper.  Use the reserved liquid to thin the pepper and garlic paste to an applesauce-like consistency.

Refrigerate leftover peanut sauce: you can use it on snack crackers or sandwiches (particularly good with cucumbers), or thin it a bit more and use it as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables or fried plantain.
Add the peanut butter and half the vinegar and stir to combine.  Taste the sauce and add more vinegar and salt to taste... you want an acidic and salty sauce, but not overwhelmed by either.  Thin with water (or more reserved liquid from the soaked peppers) to desired consistency.  For use in tacos you want it to be easily spreadable, but not pour-able.  The sauce will thicken if refrigerated, so cover and leave at room temperature until serving. 


Sautee the shrimp:  Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high, erring on the high side.  Soften the garlic and serrano peppers (roasted or fresh) in the oil then add shrimp.  Toss frequently until just cooked.  Remove pan from heat, squeeze lemon over shrimp and toss to coat. 

Serve in hand made corn tortillas.  Spread with peanut salsa, then fill with shredded cabbage and shrimp.



~~~

February is always a difficult month, but we are in the midst of what I believe is the stupidest winter ever.  Now it's snowing so you can't see across the road.  Now it's so cold that every time someone moves outside, it sounds like rubbing stryofoam.  Now it's rainy and the snow is gone and your socks are wet.  Now there's a deep freeze.  Now it's rainy again.  Wait, no, it's ice pellets.  Snow.  Ice.  Rain.  One day, muddy footprints tracked across the kitchen floor.  The next day, half an hour of removing compacted snow balls from between the dogs' toes, just so that they'll agree to walk the final three steps to the house and come in.

And we should be so lucky if there's only 6 weeks left to it.  I know I'm a week and a half past Groundhog's Day already, but really, if winter is behind us in 6 weeks from now, I'll eat a tin of vienna sausages.

February is that weird month too, where it's too early to open the last jar of bakeapples or cook the end of the rhubarb in the freezer, but it's too late to expect cabbages to still be bright green.  Every week, more and more of the outer leaves are pulled back to trim the wilted bits and we seem, by now, to be down to pale cabbage core.  But never mind, that cabbage inside is still crunchy and sweet.

For those of us not flocking down south for a winter holiday in the sun and surf, February is a good month to pretend.  Make a pitcher of margaritas, put on a sundress under your cozy sweaters, stuff your wool-socked feet into sandals, and feast on shrimp tacos with peanut sauce****.  It's just like being in Baja*****. 

****you know, unless you have those fatal allergies

*****don't argue with me on this:  I've never been to Baja (I may have never been further south than Put-In-Bay, Ohio, actually) but I need to imagine I can recreate it in my drafty old house so I don't go completely insane this year...

Peanut Salsa on Punk Domestics