The January Tipping Point

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Because I've been in a constant state of coming and going this past month, I've been feeling a little out of touch with my kitchen. While I normally spend a fair amount of my free time in the kitchen, I find it surprisingly easy to break the home cooking habit. If I spend several nights eating out of the home, I often find the thought of actually having to cook my own dinner a little horrifying when I return home.

But after returning from my latest out of town jaunt, it was clear that I couldn't ignore the calls of the kitchen any longer. When I made a lazy dinner of spaghetti on Sunday night, I realized we were down to a single container of marinara sauce in the freezer. We'd been limping along without any bread since sometime shortly after Christmas. It was time to replenish.

So yesterday, while the wind whistled past the cabin windows, I got a batch of marinara burbling in the crockpot, prepared some make-ahead pizza dough, and baked three loaves of "our daily bread." This morning I pulled a loaf of crusty bread (Andy's favorite) out of the oven. Not only do these kitchen projects make the cabin smell great, they also help me re-ground myself in home life and reclaim my kitchen mojo.     
I always notice an interesting shift in my kitchen mentality each January. I don't mind really putzing in the kitchen this time of year and during deep winter days, I'm most likely to try out new recipes - probably a mixed result stemming from Christmas gifted cookbooks, the new year, and dark evenings. It's also the time of year when I decide all of that food I worked to preserve over the past summer and autumn, really ought to be eaten up. Although the gardens provide us with plenty of instant-ish gratification during the summer, now is when I'm most grateful for the hard work we put in to growing our own food the summer before.
And so we start slowly eating our way through the pantry and freezer, enjoying the tastes of far-off seasons. Oatmeal with a dollop of blueberry butter or breakfast bars that use a jar of jam to start off blustery January mornings. A pot of green bean soup burbling on the stove top. Blueberry pie or apple crisp hot out of the oven. Cabbage thrown in with a venison roast. Snacks of peach salsa on a tortilla chip, applesauce straight out of the jar, or bread and butter pickles paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. There's such abundance in our pantry this year; so many flavors to play with. What to do with all of those pickled jalapenos? Or all of those pickled cranberries for that matter . . . .
Every season is a pretty tasty one around these parts, but there's something about January that makes the homemade flavors of the kitchen even more satisfying and reassuring. The jars I pop open while the snow blows and drifts outside remind me that the seasons do change and the abundant goodness of this life.

What do you cook this time of year?


  1. I don't particularly enjoy cooking. But most recently, when I was gifted with a package of Minnesota wild rice from a blogger, I prepared a hotdish and wild rice soup. These were my first experiences cooking with wild rice. Loved the soup, the hotdish not quite as much.

    I am curious about those pickled cranberries. I have never heard of such a thing and my husband loves cranberries.

    I am most envious of your pantry full of summer goodness.

  2. Love, love, love your posts about your home-making and kitchen activities! Your bread and canned goods looks so delicious. Oh, that reminds me .I bought the book you recommended, "Food in Jars" as a Christmas gift of a special someone. He loved it!

  3. this critical German breadmaker truly loves the look of your bread. Mouth watering. And reminds me that there is some more sourdough starter int he fridge....


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