Winter Program? – December 14, 2022

The weather has certainly taken a turn into the frozen zone over the past few days. Usually we don’t see single digit temps until January, but this week’s been an exception. We still only have a dusting of snow, but that could change this coming weekend. I’m ready for it; it’s time to have some meaningful snow on the ground.

Since I returned to New England a few years ago, my mountain hiking season was suspended once the snow began accumulating. I’d go snowshoeing about the neighborhood, or on the pond now and then, but otherwise I would try to keep my wheels in shape through daily walks. That was the hope, but once the snow departed and the trails opened up again, it was pretty obvious that there would be yet another annual reconditioning period. 

This winter the plan is to continue the uphill day hikes, at least until the end of January- other things are planned for February through April. There are plenty of trails around here and nearby New Hampshire that can be traveled in snowshoes, so why not? Many years ago I was an avid winter hiker, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises getting back into it. One pleasant surprise so far is that gear has become significantly lighter than in the olden days. 

We’ll see how it goes.

Another part of the “Winter Program” is cooking. I like to create food and meals, but in the good weather that is mostly relegated to working the outside grill. Once the garden is done and the weather is cold, I return to random cooking and baking.

Last Sunday was a cold and gray affair, perfectly suited to being spent in the kitchen. With the exception of a 45-minute walk, that’s exactly what I did. 

For quite a time now I’ve made scones, which perhaps aren’t the most popular baked goods in America, but my family likes them. They’re pretty quick and easy to make. Years ago I found this recipe online, which produces a solid basic scone. I’ve modified it multiple times in various ways, adding raspberries or blueberries, or adding a honey or cinnamon glaze. On Sunday I made this recipe with the only variation of basting them lightly with milk and dusting them with a bit of sugar halfway through cooking. Here are some photos:

The second cooking adventure for that day was something completely new. Garden 2022 yielded a few butternut squash, and I wanted to make some butternut squash ravioli before they were used up. When looking for likely recipes I found this one, which uses wonton wrappers instead of pasta dough. They are basically the same thing, and the filling recipe looked really good so I thought I’d give it a try. First job was roasting the squash, and then letting it cool off enough to handle.

I had to deviate from the recipe in a couple places. First, round wonton wrappers were nowhere to be found here in the hinterlands, so I had to go with square. Secondly, my plan was to stock the freezer with these, as I like to serve them in portions of 3 or 4 as a starch replacement , particularly with Marsalas and pork roasts. So, I doubled the filling recipe to increase the yield. Other than those modifications, I followed the recipe as published, and they came out pretty good, I think. 

It was a long process building these guys. Making sure the wrappers sealed correctly was a bit of a pain, but I got the hang of it after a bit. Four dozen large raviolis ended up in the freezer, where they froze very nicely and were bagged up a day later. There were a few left over which I quickly sauteed, as Wife and I were curious how the filling would taste. It was good. 

While in some ways the wonton wrappers were easier than making the standard pasta dough, I think next time I’ll go old school and mix up the semolina and eggs. That way each ravioli doesn’t have to be individually created, and I can use this:

They’ll be smaller raviolis, but portions can always be adjusted. Upwards, of course.

Finally, an update on the last post that appeared here last week, “So, What’s in the Bag”

The owner and proprietor of  Postcards From Across the Pond (The Longest Running, Currently Active, Personal Blog on the Internet, until you prove me wrong), Michael Harling, wrote a great post sharing an experience that perfectly illustrated the point I was trying to make about being prepared when you venture forth into the wild. I’ve been following Mike’s blog for a long time, and always enjoy his stories and sense of humor. He’s a good writer- check him out.

That brings this one to a close. More in a bit, I’m sure. Thanks for stopping by!

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