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Suddenly Stormy

Early this afternoon, Howard sent me a “news flash” about a fast storm coming through the area during this evening’s commute. There would be snow, high winds, and possible whiteout conditions. As reported, wet snow came down in the afternoon, blowing against the windows, and then, it stopped. When I left work this evening, the sun was shining. Well, actually, it was dusk, but the sun had been shining. Shortly before I headed home, I noticed that the setting sun cast a lovely pink light on the afternoon’s dusting of snow.

When I got home, Bella and I suited up for her evening walk. I put on waterproof shoes, a hat, gloves, nothing special because the storm had passed. The sidewalk was a little icier than I expected. Instead of detouring back inside for my YakTrax, I chose to just walk slowly. It was a bit treacherous in spots, but, I tried to walk on snow wherever possible, and we ambled along, enjoying the brisk evening.

All of a sudden, I noticed it was cloudy again. Within seconds, I was in the middle of a snow squall, nearly whiteout conditions. I think the sudden weather change made Bella nervous. She started to walk faster, causing me to slip and land flat on my back. It knocked my hat off!

The snow was blowing horizontally, and I could hardly see. We were around the halfway point, so it didn’t make sense to turn back, but we were still 15 minutes from home, under normal conditions. All we could do was barrel ahead.

Fortunately, the plan for dinner was hot soup: Caldo Verde, a Portuguese kale soup. I had prepared most of the components the night before. I had already cooked the sausage and sweet potatoes. I had also had the base, the broth with potatoes, prepared as well. All I had to do tonight was to slice the kale and heat it all up.

Howard commented on how this was the most local meal we’ve made in a while. The homemade chicken stock was stashed in the freezer. The onions and kale were from the past weekend’s farmers market, the potatoes and sweet potatoes were stored from our Winter CSA share, and the sausage was from Chestnut Farms.

Caldo Verde
Serves 4-6
(Adapted from The Boston Globe Magazine, January 3, 2010)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1½ sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in ¾-inch pieces
½ lb hot Italian sausage links
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts chicken stock
½ lb red potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 bunch kale
2 tsp cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 450F. Toss diced sweet potatoes with 1 Tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Roast on a cookie sheet for 25 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Broil sausage links on top rack, about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Cool until you can handle them. Slice into ½ inch rounds, and then cut the rounds in half again for half moons.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are very soft, about 15 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes in the pot.

Prepare kale: Cut out the center stem from the leaves. Cut the top part of the leaves along the center stem. Stack several leaves flat. Roll them lengthwise into a tight cigar. Cut the cigar crosswise, as thin as possible. (I rinsed the leaves after preparing them.)

Add the greens, sausage, and sweet potatoes to the broth mixture. Stir and simmer until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cider vinegar, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

The sweet potatoes, sausage, and broth mixture can be cooked the day before and stored in the refrigerator.

Dinner for Breakfast?

This week has flown by. It was nice to have an extra day off on Monday. It snowed the whole day, so at least my cold January world was pretty. It was a good day for the slow cooker, but the recipe I tried was a dud. Not worth writing about.

The results of the special election turned Tuesday into a disappointing day. I wasn’t enamored with either candidate, but to me, the choice was clear. Unfortunately, the majority didn’t agree with me. At least I was with the majority in Lexington, where I live. I’m still stunned.

I made a tasty dinner on Wednesday: sweet potato, black bean and corn hash. It offered a whiff of summer. We had frozen the corn in August when it was at its best. We ate the hash with a fried egg on top. Why is that whenever a meal includes an egg, it seems like it should be breakfast? Breakfast, dinner, it was good both hot off the stove and again as leftovers.

One more thing… Tonight, for the first time in 20+ years that Howard and I have been together, I craved some ice cream. Howard is an ice cream fiend, but I’m indifferent. Tonight, I really wanted a scoop of ice cream on top of some brownies we have. Wouldn’t you know that we don’t have any! I can’t believe it. Oh, well.

sweet potato, black bean and corn hash
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics by The Moosewood Collective
Serve 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 or 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces
1 jalapeno, mined
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
3 cups corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
1 cup cooked black beans
Dash of Tabasco sauce

1 Tbsp butter
6 eggs

Minced scallions
Chopped cilantro

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet with a lid. Add the onions, and sauté until they start to soften. Stir in the garlic, cook a few second, then add the sweet potatoes. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the jalapeno, coriander, cumin, and salt. Cover and cook another 3 minutes. Add the corn and black beans, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. If the potatoes are too firm, add a little water and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender. Add salt and Tabasco to taste.

When the hash is ready, in another skillet, melt the butter. Break the eggs into the skillet and fry on both sides to preferred doneness. I like a runny yolk.

Spoon hash onto dinner plates, and top each serving with a fried egg. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro.