Winter is hearth time, and I'm always glad when as a cook, I can bring warmth when it's welcome, not just as hot soup or warm bread but by actually raising the temperature of the room with the oven. I have a bit of envy for those working outside in the sun, especially the extra breezy, glorious days in the summer time, as I sheepishly set 5 huge pots on the stove to simmer or sear 30# of chicken while my whole body shimmers with sweat. Cooks are a bit more beloved in winter when the fire of the kitchen serves a dual purpose.
This winter with all its coldness and grumpiness, seemed a good time as any to start nurturing a sourdough culture and bake some bread, if only to warm up the room. The last month I've been making gluten-free sourdough bread that's all completely edible and sometimes even wonderful. I made a particularly dense loaf a few weeks ago, that I discovered was most excellent thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil, and toasted to cracker form perfection.
These experimental crackers turned out to be a real treat and reminiscent of a snack food from my youth in Minnesota---Gardetto's snack mix. If you're unacquainted, it's one of those variety bags of textures and flavors. My favorite bits were always the pumpernickel chips (I'm not alone, they make a "Special Request" Gardetto's that's just these chips). These buckwheat, acorn sourdough crisps somehow tasted very similar to these rye based chips and I'm OK with that.
Check them out on this week's menu, along with a grain-free loaf all jazzy with vegetables.
“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible." ---Katherine May, Wintering
Don't fight winter! Two people reminded me of that this week, as I noticed my self starting to feel grumbly about the limits of this season. The necessity of all the outside garb (on and off and on and off), the shoveling, the contraction, stiffness, and dryness of bodies and social lives. Thank you to my friend Corey who mentioned this OnBeing interview with Katherine May on How 'Wintering' Replenishes. I like May's framing of this particular year as part of a greater cycle, the whole year a kind of winter---and with that kind of perspective she reminds us how we can better live through it. She also reads some from her book, which is an absolute poetic pleasure.
I also came across a recent writing, Winter Restoration, from my herbal mentor Chris Marano with keen, practical ways to embrace this season, right now, in this greater moment of stress and change. If you're feeling frenzied or bored, this one is for you.
Carly lives and eats from a hilltop in Cummington, Massachsuetts and part time in Schenectady, NY.