This sudden cold weather has been a real assault to my system, and I suspect to many other people’s. Unseasonably warm and sunshiny weather during the usually cold, gray days of November has made my body less able to be comfortable.
Freezing rain and ice this past weekend really did a job on me. Not only was I cold most of the time, but I was unprepared for walking on ice-covered snow, resulting in a tumble that hurt not only my back, but the back of my head, too, as they crashed to the ground.
I was just trying to help out my geese. Their smooth, webbed feet also couldn’t handle the ice-covered snow. As they tried to waddle up the subtle incline to their water and feed dishes, they slipped and slid, falling over and sometimes sliding down the slope.
It was all kind of funny, since they weren’t hurt and didn’t have far to fall. When my head struck the ice, they all quieted right down, trying to understand what had just happened to their source of food and water. I was trying to pick up Finny, my goose who adopted me as his “mother” after his own mother, Sal Gal, kicked him out of the nest in May.
Eventually he made it to the water dish, after I picked myself up and carefully stepped up the stairs to the safety of the garage. Ah, winter. It’s so easy to feed, water and let the geese graze during the spring, summer and fall. During those times, I don’t remember just how hard it is to care for my wonderful feathered friends. I must add water to their dishes several times a day because it freezes so quickly, continually fill their food dishes so they can be healthy enough to handle the cold weather in their straw-lined coop, and often, I must shovel my way into their pen, then remove the snow from the tops of their dishes before feeding and watering them.
Although winter has just begun, I long for spring to arrive. In the meantime, though, once the geese are cared for, I delight in making old favorites or new soups. There’s nothing like a soup of nearly any variety, simmering on the stove and smelling oh so good to ward off the cold.
After my tumble, I decided fish chowder was just the thing to shake off the cold and my sore body. At least once a week, I make a soup, often with accompanying biscuits, corn bread or popovers.
Here’s my basic fish chowder recipe. The amount of each ingredient can be increased, dependent upon how many servings are wanted. This recipe is enough for 5-6 tasty bowlsful.
Fish Chowder (5-6 servings)
Three-quarters pound white fish such as haddock, hake, flounder, or a combination, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 or 5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled or not, and cut into cubes
1 cup chopped onion
2 or 3 celery stalks, chopped
2 or 3 slices turkey bacon, cut into one-inch pieces
1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large bay leaf
just enough water or chicken or fish stock to cover the potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cups milk
dollop of butter or butter substitute
fresh or frozen parsley, cut up, for garnish
Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Saute the onions, celery and bacon pieces on low heat until the onions are translucent. Do not burn. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and just enough water or stock to cover them. Cover the pot and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add the fish pieces, seasonings, and milk. Simmer, but do not boil, for about 15 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle fresh or frozen parsley atop the soup.
This next soup is a winter variation on the traditional tomato soup. It uses a quart of my canned tomatoes, along with some of the chicken stock I always make whenever we have roast chicken.
Winter Tomato Soup (6-8 servings)
4 tablespoons butter or butter substitute
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 quart canned tomatoes
1 quart chicken or beef stock
sprinkling of sugar
freshly ground black pepper
dash of ground cloves
salt to taste
In a heavy pot, melt the butter and sauté the onion and celery until they are soft. Crush the tomatoes thoroughly and add to the pot with their juice. Stir in the stock, sugar, pepper and cloves. Simmer for about a half-hour, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot into bowls. Add a sprinkling of salt. Top with croutons.
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