The slow living winter kitchen is comforting and cozy. Cooking hot, nutritious food from scratch warms, not only the room, but the heart as well.
Somehow, when the temps are down outside and I am toasty warm inside, there is a peace that washes over me that has a magic all it’s own.
There are days, particularly when the snow is falling, that I wander into the kitchen early in the morning all disheveled and still in my pajamas. Only to find myself wandering back out at the end of the day, very much in the same condition.
They are good days; no fuss, no muss, no plan. Just me going wherever the kitchen gods want to take me.
Yet, in order to keep my diet processed food free I have to exercise more intention than that on a typical day in the kitchen.
On those days I like to set the mood in my kitchen and have a plan for what I need to get done there. Don’t get me wrong … I still keep it low key. I try to keep most things low key.
But, in order to keep unhealthy options off the table, I decide ahead of time what I need to make to meet my needs for the week. And/or to add a few things to my freezer for those days when there is no time to cook.
MEALS TO COOK IN YOUR SLOW LIVING WINTER KITCHEN
I adore cooking with root vegetables in my slow living winter kitchen. After all, they are pretty much the star of the vegetable world at this time of year. And there are so many delicious dishes to be made from them.
Root vegetables …
Some of my favorites are carrot soup, sweet potato and sausage skillets, and roasted beet salad.
Potatoes fall under this category as well. And potatoes are one of my absolute favorite foods. It makes no difference whether you roast them, mash them, bake them, or fry them … I’M IN!
This time of year is a great time to make roasts in the kitchen too. Beef roasts, pork roasts, lamb roasts, or a whole roasted chicken really hit the spot. And it opens up the doors to experimenting with stuffings and sauces. So much fun!
Casseroles and soups …
The winter season is known for being a great time to put a casserole or soup on the table for dinner. And it’s a great time to bake, so go ahead and pair those two together with a big ‘ol pot of homemade soup and a crusty loaf of homemade artisan bread on the table. YUMMY!
Both casseroles and soups are often one pot meals that can be made ahead. Just perfect!
There is a post on the blog you may want to check out about the art of soup making. And there are a few soup recipes you maY like as well; yellow split pea soup and creamy sausage and pepper soup.
You can also take a look at these recipes for some winter kitchen inspiration; cast iron skillet lasagna, stuffed cabbage skillet, handheld meat pies, and cast iron skillet meatloaf.
Sweet treats …
And don’t forget to hone those baking skills this winter too. Indulging in a little old fashioned sweet treat every now and then is a nice thing. These recipes are great for doing just that; sweet potato cake, cinnamon twist donuts, pumpkin maple galette, cinnamon rolls, and nutella cookies.
And, it never hurts to learn a bit more about making healthier versions of those sweet treats we all love so much either. Here’s a few of those for you; carrot muffins, chocolate avocado pudding, blueberry pancake cupcakes, and wfpb chocolate peanut butter cake.
Go ahead and snag a copy of my FREE Winter Recipes Cookbook if you would like more ideas for dishes to cook this season.
MAKE IT A SOCIAL AFFAIR
Each season presents a different atmosphere for socializing in the kitchen. The slow living winter kitchen draws your friends and loved ones in to ‘warm by the hearth’, as our ancestors would have said.
There may no longer be a hearth in the modern kitchen, but the principle is the same nonetheless.
It is a wonderful time to have people over for a nice cooked from scratch meal and good conversation. If time allows, pulling out a few board games or settling in to a good movie tops the evening off perfectly.
Perhaps, my favorite way to take advantage of the atmosphere that this season’s kitchen offers me, is to have a few people over to batch cook nutritious freezer meals. It’s a win-win for everyone involved; an evening with people you love, amazing homemade beverages, and food to stock your freezer for days when you are unable to be in the kitchen.
Pierogies, ravioli, tortellini, pot stickers, soup, meatballs, lasagna, and chicken and dumplings are all great choices for an evening like this.
It’s also fun to batch cook pasta sauces on these evenings. They can be made at the start of the evening and left to slow simmer on the stove while you work on other dishes. And they’re really handy to have in the freezer for a quick meal.
FOODS TO PREP EVERY WEEK IN YOUR SLOW LIVING WINTER KITCHEN
At least some of the days that I spend in my slow living winter kitchen have to be dedicated to making the foods that I use on a regular basis, but don’t want to purchase from the store.
Things like broth, stock, pasta sauces, marinades, beverages, and condiments fall into this category.
I don’t like purchasing these things at big box outlets because I can’t control the ingredients that are in them that way. And there is definitely a nutritional difference between teriyaki marinade that is preserved enough to live in a bottle on a shelf and one that will only last a week or two in the refrigerator.
Not to mention the rather huge difference in the taste. Give me the cooked from scratch version every time, please!
It may seem overwhelming to think about making all of these things yourself. Who really has the time for that, right?!?!
Well … it doesn’t take as much time as you might think. With just a little preplanning you can pull it off with very little effort.
AND … you absolutely DO NOT have to be perfect at it. It’s okay to just do your best. With practice, you will get more and more of it done.
I try to keep a few things in the freezer from batch cooking, as I mentioned earlier. And then I simply think about what I will need for the week and make a list of what I have to prepare to make that happen.
I’ll need beverages, for sure. And if I put a pot of sauce on the stove, I can make pasta a night or two. Whipping up a marinade or two covers a few more nights, marinated meat and veggies will do the trick. A pot of soup and a casserole (perhaps they’re already in the freezer), and I’ve got the week pretty much covered.
Your list may look different than mine. But you get the idea. It doesn’t take crazy, full on nose to the grindstone effort to make this happen. The beverages, the pasta sauce, and the marinades are all done in an hour. So, just another hour or two making a few dishes wraps it up for the day.
EXPERIMENT WITH NEW INGREDIENTS IN YOUR SLOW LIVING WINTER KITCHEN
Because the slow living winter kitchen is a cozy reprieve from the cold weather outside, it is a great time to take advantage of learning how to use an ingredient or two that is new to you.
If you’re a foodie, like me, you enjoy this activity immensely, but rarely have enough time for it. I find that this time of year is perfect for fitting it in.
It’s easiest to target just one or two ingredients to work with for the season. It helps to avoid any pressure that comes from having too many tasks to tackle.
This year I’m going to work with plantains. They’re an ingredient that I’ve only ever cooked one way in the past. I fried them with butter, seasonings, and onions many times.
They’re delicious. And there are so many different ways to use them readily available for my choosing from the great big interweb. It’s all too hard to resist!
In past winters I’ve worked with other ingredients, like; dried beans, chayote, and lentils.
Pick an ingredient that calls to you and decide you’re going to cook with it this winter. Even, if you only get one recipe made all season, you will have improved your kitchen skills at least a bit.
UPGRADE TO HEALTHIER SWEET TREATS
Baking is one of my favorite slow living winter kitchen activities. The oven makes the kitchen so warm and cozy. And the aromas that fill the air, as sweet treats come to life, in the oven are just divine.
I love to make traditional baked goods. Particularly those that remind me of my childhood.
But, I prefer to eat healthier sweet treats. Like, actually prefer them. I crave sweet potato brownies, chocolate avocado pudding, nice cream smoothies, and wfpb pumpkin pie way more than I do a slice of traditionally prepared cake.
And the winter season is a great time to experiment with healthier sweet treat recipes. Either altering recipes you already love to contain a little less sugar and oil, or working with new recipes to find which ones suit your tastes is a great way to expand your healthy sweet treats repertoire.
Personally, I love whole food plant based (wfpb) desserts. And, in my opinion, they are the very best way to go when looking for a sweet treat.
However, I have to sift through the recipes out there to find those that I like. Not all wfpb dessserts are created equal.
I also love to take traditional recipes and work with them to substitute honey, maple syrup, or date syrup for the processed sugar. Often, I come up with a real winner that pleases even the most discerning tongue.
So, take a little time this winter to play around with sweet treats in your kitchen. It’s a win-win. You get a little slow living winter kitchen rest and relaxation, and you improve your daily diet as well.
COOK FROM THE CABINETS AND FREEZERS
Over time cabinets and freezers can start to accumulate a lot of products that are not really being used. Maybe you bought an ingredient that you thought you were going to use one weekend in a new recipe, and then never actually made that dish.
Or, you might have gotten overzealous one day when shopping really good sales at the grocery store. I often buy an ingredient to make a recipe and then the extra product sits in my cabinet. Whatever the reason, things become cluttered and ingredients sit unused.
It is a nuisance to have things sitting around in your way when you are an active cook. Every time you go to the cabinet/freezer you have to rummage through it all to find what you’re looking for.
Not to mention, how expensive and wasteful it is. That is all money sitting there untouched. It can be put to good use.
This season is the perfect time to tackle the task of using up those ingredients. And it’s actually a pretty fun way to spend some of the extra time you find you have in the kitchen now.
I take 15 or 20 minutes to go through my kitchen and write down all of the things that I need to use up. I keep that list on hand and then pretty regularly throughout the winter I refer to it when I have some time to cook.
I’ll choose an ingredient or two from the list, find a recipe to make from them, and get to work cooking them up. I consider it a bonus when I find a recipe that uses two or more of the ingredients that I want to eliminate from my cabinet/freezer.
FYI: This is a practice that I perform weekly throughout the year with my refrigerator storage, minus the list of course. It greatly reduces food waste, which saves a considerable amount of money in the long run.
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