Off The Shelf: Cooking for Cozy Weather

We’re doing a lot of cooking this month.  If you’re in the mood for soup or even hosting a  soup exchange party, I recommend The New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker, who co-created the restaurant of the same name, and Clara Silverstein.  I love soups because they require the melding of several layers of flavor, which is why they’re so satisfying.  For example, one of my favorites from the book combines butternut squash (a fairly typical base) with the surprise of Calvados (apple brandy) which gives it depth, prosciutto for richness and Gorgonzola for a biting finish.  YUM!  

This month, Karen and I also discovered a straightforward, no-fuss method for making bread to go with our soups, courtesy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day 

I usually hit an energy slump around 3:30, which is when I’m often figuring out what to make for dinner and dragging myself to the grocery store.  Once the weather gets cooler, I love dusting off my Crock Pot.  The convenience of leaving everything to cook while you’re gone and then having a meal already made by late afternoon feels like a relief.  But I’m pretty bored with the three recipes I’ve been rotating so I’m looking at The Italian Slow Cooker by author and Italian culinary tour guide Michele Scicolone for inspiration.   This cookbook, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients, will help you make food you’d expect to be eating in Tuscany!  (And, for those of you who know me, I’m ga-ga over all things Italy and this cookbook is a definite keeper).  

Finally, I’m starting to think about gifts I might make for friends around the holidays. While Homemade With Love isn’t about food gifts per se, it perfectly reflects the cozy mood I’m in and that feeling of home and warmth that I want to convey to my friends through food.  So I’ll be seeing which of these recipes might easily translate to little gifts I can wrap up and share.  There’s a lovely children’s book I like reading with my sons every year called You Can Do It, Sam  by Amy Hest and illustrated by Anita Jeram.  It so encapsulates that feeling of having a snow-bound day, when you’re “forced” to stay in so you bake something and then deliver simple treats to near-by friends.  It’s hard to make time for these kinds of things, but when you do, you realize how much it’s worth it.

xoxo Zandra