The windowpanes are delicately frosted, and a whistling wind swirls snow across the road and into the fields. Even though it's a clear, sunny day boasting a brilliant blue sky, we aren't fooled...it's still winter in the Midwest. The temperature is predicted to plummet, and if the forecasters are correct, a good old-fashioned snowstorm will come our way this weekend...3 to 5 inches of snow tonight, and 4 to 6 additional inches tomorrow.
When it's cold and blustery outside, you can be certain our kitchen fireplace is blazing. The warmth radiating from it has been a welcome pleasure on many frosty mornings here on the farm. Although we love the old woodwork, double front doors, and curving staircase, this fireplace has become one of my favorite things about our old house. I often wonder about the generations that lived here before us. Did they gather around it out of necessity to keep warm? Did the lady of the house roast a turkey there in a tin kitchen, or simmer a stew for dinner? Built in 1864, I'm sure many families were warmed by this fireplace, and some days it's nice to settle in and think about those who came before us.
However; on this particular winter day, our kitchen is filled with the aromas of simmering soup and bread baking in the oven. I've decided that it's a good day for Moose Soup. Now exactly where the name originated is a bit fuzzy, but the mere mention of it to the kids will bring smiles, quickly followed by an outburst of giggles! And fear not...this soup is a hearty, warm-you-to-your-toes vegetable soup. No moose required!
Soft flannel sheets are on the beds, and an extra quilt is added for good measure. The pantry is stocked and soon the kids will be home from school. And yes, like their friends, they're eagerly hoping this storm will bring more snow days! It's a happy sight to see them building snowmen and making snow angels...simple pleasures of childhood. When they come inside, all rosy-cheeked and cold, they'll shed their wet clothes for cozy pajamas, then settle in for a board game or to watch a favorite movie.
Another look around...I feel all is well inside, but before the storm comes, it's time to check outside. A quick look and I see that after a stretch of chilly days, it's time to carry wood from the barn to refill the woodpile by the back door. Having extra logs for the fire will be handy when the snow begins piling up. Heading outdoors on a day like this is not for the fashionable...it is purely and simply for warmth. Slipping on heavy socks, boots, gloves, and a barn coat, I feel bundled up and ready to face the snow and wind. It's time to hang up another gourd birdhouse, and then fill birdfeeders to overflowing. Next I'll toss some extra straw in the corner were the barn cats curl up, and even tuck some inside an empty doghouse where birds will often take shelter from the winds. Finally, a quick look inside the milk cans where we store feed will tell me if I need to make a trip into town to stock up. After stacking the extra wood and tossing another log on the fire, we will certainly be ready for whatever Old Man Winter sees fit to send us.
As I head back inside, I'm keenly aware that now a strong north wind has started blowing, and the sun is doing little to drive away the cold. These days of winter, no matter how cold they may be, are most definitely warmed by family & friends. A call from friends checking in and a gift of summer's golden honey from neighbors all add warmth to our home. So, before we know it, the winds will slacken, the ice will melt, and soon spring will arrive. But for now, we're happy enjoying the season we are in. Home means more than where we hang our hat, as the saying goes, it is a place where memories are made.
4 T. butter
2 onions, diced
1 head cabbage, finely chopped
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
2, 14.5-oz. cans stewed tomatoes, drained
3 c. baby spinach leaves
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 qts. chicken or vegetable broth
salt & pepper to taste
Combine butter and onions in a saucepan; cook over medium heat until onions are tender. Set aside. Combine vegetables in a large stockpot; add onions. Stir in broth; pour in additional broth or water, if needed, to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about 2 hours, or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Serves approximately 8.
Mary is a Midwest farmgirl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country.
"For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play &
explore, is the best kind of life." You can visit Windy Meadows Farm at www.windymeadowsfarm.blogspot.com
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