Welcome to Our Winter Table

Why do we eat? Do we eat to live or do we live to eat? Eating, as we know, is essential for life. But the question is, what does food really do for us? Does it just fill the need for sustainability of life, or is there more to it? Sharing a meal can bring connection. Eating a salad can make us feel healthy. Have you heard of Vitamin P? Eating for pleasure……. Food of healthy sustenance that fills that craving. The other day I was craving the taste of summer, so I bought some imported blackberries. To my surprise, they were so sweet and juicy and vine ripe tasting. It was so good! It brought me to memories of picking blackberries in Oregon. We would tie a small bucket around our waist and pick and eat until we and the bucket were full! I have found that the sense of taste can bring you back to a bygone time. A memory….. A feeling…. So here we are almost at the end of winter. As a farmer and gardener, we prepare and work all spring and summer for the harvest and preserving of food for winter. And now we are enjoying the bounty!

For many years, I have used Azure Standard (follow the link and enter JulieConrad1) to buy staples, organic fruits and vegetables I can not grow on the farm throughout the winter months. Here is a brief excerpt from Azure Standard:

We understand that naturally grown foods are instrumental in producing a long and satisfying life. We’d like to see more farmers and home gardeners turn to natural organic growing practices, so we do what we can to not only support the organic farmer but also provide as many organic products as possible.
We chose to call our business Azure Standard, to signify by the name what we are attempting to do. Azure is a shade of blue which has been associated with law, justice, and honesty. In raising an azure standard, we want to place an honest standard in the marketing of food. We feel that the correct way to effect a positive change is not to attack the way it is being done, but to begin to do it right.

We are dedicated to the “organic principle” of cooperating with nature and we pray others will join us so that we may once again see prosperity in our land.

I invite you to take a peek at what Azure Standard offers! It has been a wonderful way to support a healthful way of eating for me and my family.

Our meals in the winter look a little different from what we consume in the summer months. Up here in Montana, we enjoy warm, comforting food that will sustain us throughout the day. Warming soups rich with broth and sustaining vegetables from the pantry. Roast meats are a favorite, seasoned with dried herbs from the garden. Winter is a time of eating soul food…….food that warms your tummy and heart. Seasonal winter food can be so rich and hearty.

We still spend plenty of time outside, regardless of what the weather and temperatures are doing. Giving extra hay to the sheep and cows and breaking the layer of ice from the water troughs is part of the deal! I have found that during the winter months; I appreciate a heartier breakfast than in the warmer months of summer.

Eggs are a staple for us. Our sweet hens have laid eggs consistently this winter. Omelets, quiches and frittatas are a great way for us to get some good protein while adding some hearty vegetables. I like to have on hand mushrooms, spinach, onions, potatoes and bell peppers to add to these dishes. Homemade sourdough bread made with einkorn flour helps round out this hearty farmhouse breakfast. Baked oatmeal is another favorite that uses some of the frozen berries that I have preserved. A scoop of homemade yogurt and a drizzle of pure maple syrup is soul satisfying! It’s like eating a little bowl of sunshine!

Winter squash has been an enjoyable vegetable to have in the pantry. I have found yummy ways of adding it to both savory and sweet recipes. Adding some diced pumpkin or butternut squash to a pot of chili adds a nice depth of flavor. The other day I made a pot of pasta with a cheese sauce and roasted butternut squash and bacon. It was my favorite! Pumpkin sourdough muffins are a delicious way to use squash. I have made a hearty salad with roast Delicata squash, roasted chicken breast, dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin seeds and a little feta cheese. Serve the salad with balsamic dressings.

Onions, Carrots and potatoes have come from the garden and are ready for storing through the winter. They are a staple for us. I add them to so many recipes morning, noon and night. They add a hearty earthiness to any dish. Breakfast casseroles with some maple sage pork sausage is a delicious dish to sink your teeth into. Soups and stews just require these three companions to add a delicious, rich component to the overall taste. Roasting root vegetables is one of our favorite ways to prepare beets, potatoes,parsnips and carrots. Broccoli is delicious roasted too. Just add a little olive oil and some good salt. Bake the vegetables at a high heat, 425 degrees. The higher temperature gives a beautiful caramelized coat on the veggies.

Apples and Pears store well in a cool place for a period of time. Adding fresh pears and apples to a cabbage salad adds a nice sweetness and crunch. They make a nourishing snack with a little peanut or almond butter for some added protein. And I might add that they make a wonderful rustic pie and crisp.

Cabbage I have grown to appreciate more every year. I keep adding more space for cabbage in my garden year after year. It is such a good keeper over winter and is so versatile and nutritious.

One of our favorite dinners is here. It is a quick, filling and delicious meal that gets rave reviews every time I serve it to guests. Cabbage is wonderful added to soups and stews as well as eaten fresh in salads. Often ‌cabbage is the base for most of the winter salads that I prepare. I have found that slicing it very thin gives the cabbage a great texture.

As I have so enjoyed reading other farmers/homesteaders’ ideas of what they eat in winter that are seasonal and locally raised, I share a few of my own. May you find joy and richness in eating the winter bounty!

Love from Julie, Gene and the flock

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