This past week Black Fox Homestead experienced her first major winter storm.
I wasn’t quite sure how things would go: whether or not we would lose power, and how the chickens (and this nervous new chick mom) would handle the severe weather.
Nevertheless all went well. The girls survived and thrived, and we all stayed warm and safe.
The only thing that did not go as planned was husbie’s return for the weekend from an out of town gig. With the prospect of snow and ice, he correctly predicted numerous flight cancellations and reluctantly decided to stay put, meaning he will be out of town for a total of two weeks.
I was pretty bummed. Not only was I weathering out the storm without him, but our plans to decorate the tree together (which would have been perfect against the backdrop of the snow) have had to be postponed.
Being snowed in over the weekend however gave me the chance to get creative in the kitchen.
Before the weather turned for the worse, I went out and gathered up what I could of our salad greens: among them a bitter looseleaf green that has, up to this point, handled the cold very well.
Having some pecans on hand, I decided to pair the two together in some pesto. The result was quite nice. Combined with neufchatel cheese and some sun dried tomatoes from last summer’s garden this pesto makes a great spread for foccacia, healthy crackers, or baguette.
It makes up easy and quickly and keeps well for unexpected company or better yet, an indoor picnic for the two of us when he gets home before we gear up for Christmas with our family.
While the holidays are all about visiting with family and loved ones we don’t see often; in the business of the season we often neglect quality time with those who are the closest to us.
Not to mention the fact that for those of us who homestead (whether rural or urban) there is the additional load of caring for our animals through the winter, catching up on household duties neglected during the growing season, and preparing for upcoming spring planting (which is, in fact, right around the corner).
I would encourage you to take some time this week to create an evening alone with your loved one ~ a time where you can reconnect and value the gift of each other.
1. Light some fire
…if you have a fireplace; and if not light some candles ~ lots of them!
My favorite (and easy, inexpensive) look is a tea light in a mason jar. You’ve probably got skads of jars in every available size.
Bring them out and put them to use for the holidays.
Then, dim the overhead lights, plug in your tree (if it isn’t already ~ mine is lit from morning ’til night), and spread out a vintage quilt in front of it, and uncork a nice bottle of red wine.
2. Assemble some picnic gear and picnic food
Pretty plates and napkins, cutlery: whatever you have on hand.
For the picnic itself think of finger foods. The pesto spread listed below would also be great with additional cheeses, fruit such as red pears, marinated artichoke hearts, or a nice mix of olives.
3. Turn off the tv and your phone
…and turn on some lovely holiday music.
Husbie isn’t much for Christmas music but he does love Dave Brubek’s Christmas album coupled with Vince Guaraldi’s classic Charlie Brown Christmas and selections from Ella Fitzgerald.
Set the volume where it provides lovely background but not so loud you can’t visit.
4. Enjoy your evening!
Pour the wine (or whatever else you’d like to drink) and toast to each other and the upcoming season.
Pecan Pesto with Bitter Greens
If you do not have a “bitter green” such as arugula, then go ahead and just use the traditional basil.
- 1/2 cup of pecans*
- 4 cups of loosely packed greens or basil leaves
- 1 1/2 t chopped garlic
- 1 t fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 t kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup of finely grated Asiago cheese
In the bowl of a food processor with the blade attached finely chop garlic. Add the pecans and pulse until finely chopped. Add the greens (or basil), lemon juice, and salt and pulse until finely chopped. Add the olive oil in a small stream through the feed tube of the food processor with motor running. Turn motor off, and add cheese. Pulse lightly to combine. Makes approximately 1 cup.
*I used my soaked and dehydrated pecans for this recipe. Soaking helps to break down the enzyme inhibitors making for easier digestion. You can read here about soaking and dehydrating nuts. The procedure would be the same for the almonds. If you do not wish to soak, simply eliminate this process and use conventional pecans.
To make the Pecan Pesto Spread:
Combine 1/3 cup of the pesto with 4 oz of Neufchatel (or cream) cheese at room temperature (or substitute cream cheese), 1/2 cup of finely chopped sundried tomatoes, and 1/4 cup of grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese. Serve chilled or at room temperature with crackers.