Friday, January 8, 2010

To Drive the Cold Winter Away

After making the rounds of my friends in blog land, I had to concede that we are all tired of snow and cold--and more snow and cold! So, having shivered and whined, I decided to tackle some cooking as a way to warm and cheer the house.
Not pictured is a vegetarian entree for a church dinner, and our supper of marinated, grilled steak, fried sweet and Irish potatoes and a "green" salad.  Also absent from the photo are three fruit pies tucked in the freezer to give as gifts. 
This is a place where I've had no success at gardening and other than a raspberry farm about 40 miles away, the only fresh fruit is trucked in and not usually inspiring.  I buy large quantities of berries frozen without sugar from a local bulk ordering service.  They are wonderful for pies, crumbles and sauces.
The pies for the freezer were two of blueberry and one of blackberry.  The whole pie above is blueberry and destined for the church dinner.  The small blackberry pie was made for J.
I make VERY GOOD PIECRUST! However, the wretched man refuses to eat the pastry crimpings around the edges, which has annoyed me for years. Today I topped his pie with a plain circle of pastry and let the filling bubble up around it. He was pleased and I have one less thing to fuss about!
The big glass bowl is full of tapioca pudding and the fruit sauce contains blueberries, blackberries and cherries. I heated the fruit with half a cup of raw sugar, 1/4 cup of cornstarch for thickening [mixed with about 11/2 c. water] and enjoyed the warm fruity smell as I stirred it over the gas burner until the sauce was thick and glossy.

Pebbles likes this little thicket of willows and small trees near the irrigation ditch. From here she can watch the bedroom and this room where I spend many hours. She also has a view of the driveway and keeps track of all arrivals and departures. By turning around she can keep tabs on the neighbor horses.  I noticed this morning that the large plastic bin where J. puts her hay was over-turned. When I mentioned this J. reported that this is Pebbles' current amusement--to thrash the bin about just in case she has missed some special morsel in the bottom.

The cold is relentless.  I didn't take note of the outside temp reading which registers on the car's dash, but it was cold when I went to town at 3:30 to pick up the bulk foods order and replenish milk and cat food.  It is the kind of cold which causes the snow to make scrunching sounds under the car's tires. Boots squeak with each careful footstep.
J. made good progress today in the attic. The insulation batts are mostly in place and some of the half-round rustic lumber that he is using to sheath the walls. There is not such a billow of cold rolling down the staircase.  The cats are not much interested in the improvements and instead of roaring up and down the stairs they have found snug places for the evening. Maisie and her daughter Jemima are here with me; Maisie curled on the daybed quilt and 'Mima on the bookcase. The rest of the pride are in the bedroom, which is currently the warmest room in the house.
I'm about to brew tea and have a bowl of the tapioca pudding with berry sauce.


  1. A nice big session of cooking and baking is a surefire way to warm up the kitchen. I haven't had tapioca pudding since I was at school and, to be honest, I don't have very fond memories of it! I'm sure your homemade version is a great deal better than our school dinner one though:)

  2. Yummy! I was never a big pie fan, but I find my tastes are changing. I love crumbles especially, now. I LOVE looking at your cats, they are so beautiful. My sister leaves the frigid wastes of Toronto on Monday to visit with me, where we have been having temps in the 70's for the past three weeks. And guess what?!! It's going to rain on Tuesday. At least it won't be freezing rain!

  3. Squeaking footsteps here too MM, where the snow has frozen. It is now officially Too Cold to sit at the computer, so if I go quiet, or are very brief, that's the reason why. Back to the fire and the tv and my x-stitch now . . .

  4. Your husband has Strange Tastes if he doesn't like those lovely crunchy bits of crust around the edge...but nice of you to decide to make it the way he likes it. Your house must have smelled delightful with the scent of your pies and berry sauce. To Drive the Cold Winter Away is one of my most favorite the medieval tune and the heartfelt words about friendship in cold winter.

  5. Rowan; I admit tapioca pudding can be offish--mine is made with the eggwhites whipped and folded into the hot pud--its best eaten warm, but not bad after a night in the fridge, and the berry sauce elevates it to a real treat.
    Chris; I've always preferred baking [and eating] pies over cakes--maybe its the fruit. Also, when a pie is baked, its done, there's no fussing with icing. Having left over pie with a hearty breakfast used to be a tradition with farm families. We didn't usually do that, but I can remember cold winter mornings when a piece of apple pie was a good finish to a meal meant to "stick to the ribs."
    BB; no fun to huddle over a cold keyboard--better to stay by the fire!
    QC: When we had a bigger household to consume the pies it didn't matter as much if J. refused his rim of crust. I wouldn't want to make a standard size pie without it, but I now make husband-sized pies in the small King Arthur flour pie pans and I think I've found a way out of the dilema with the rimless top.
    Loreena McKennet's recording of "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" is one of my favorites--the minor key and harmonies are restful.

  6. OOh baking, can't wait to have a kitchen again!