Saturday, January 22, 2005

A cold and windy day, but warm inside

The near-arctic chill has descended upon the southern Great Plains, perhaps so that we can be sympathetic to those folks enduring the great snowstorm in the Great Lakes area and northeastern states. Yikes!

Outside it's nothing like the last three days of 70F temps -- other than the beautiful blue skies, anyway. We're in the mid-30s and expecting to see the teens overnight. And it's been fiercely windy. I didn't sleep well last night (coughing -- bleagh), and every time I was awake I heard the wind pushing hard against the house. From the north, of course.

Inside, on the other hand, I've been cooking stuff that takes time, and updating my Web site, and the guys have been playing! I've been working on black bean soup, beef stock, and part-whole-wheat bread.

This morning I rinsed my soaking black beans and set them to cook, and the good smells of onion, black pepper, and garlic quickly filled the house. I season my beans; I don't like the plain bean cooking smell.

Once that was started, I pulled some ham out of the freezer to thaw for the black bean soup. Then I chopped up some carrots and onion and set them to roasting with the beef bone pieces I got through the Oklahoma Food Co-op. I am definitely a meat eater; the smell of the beef roasting was heavenly!

Next, I mixed up my favorite white bread dough, but with 1 cup of stone-ground whole wheat flour replacing 1 cup of regular flour, and for the first time I used my wheat gluten -- to help the bread dough rise with the WW flour.

After the beef bones were nicely browned, I put them in my stock pot with the roasted veggies, added some water to the roasting pan, patiently scraped up all of the browned bits, and put all of that plus some seasonings into the stock pot.

Right now the black beans and the beef stock-to-be are simmering, the bread is doing its final rise in the loaf pans, and I'm trying to remember whether I've eaten since I got up. Ooooops!!

My perennial problem is getting the beans soft enough for some in the family; I can't seem to get 'em truly tender without freezing them. I promise that I don't salt them until the very end. If I can manage "tender" today, then for dinner we'll have black bean soup, or simply seasoned black beans in broth over white rice with shredded Cheddar -- and part-whole-wheat bread on the side, of course! With some veggie or other, too. I'll make beef stew tomorrow night or Monday night, using a simple recipe from my copy of the 2004 Better Times Almanac). Then I'll freeze the rest of the beef broth.

My favorite way to do this kind of cooking is to have NOTHING else I need to do and nowhere else to go, all day long. Then there's plenty of time and it becomes relaxing instead of stressful to manage multiple pots and bread, too.

The guys have been playing video games for a while, with a break and lunch at noon. Now dear husband is playing and the boys like to watch him play and advise him. Sometimes that goes well, other times not. He got really frustrated with one bad guy whom he simply could not defeat, and afterward he asked Son2 (nearly 5 years old), "what are you supposed to tell me?" Son2 was mystified, and dear husband suggested, "Calm down, Daddy." Hehehe.

I also updated my Faith at Home Web site front page to focus on daily life, with the second focus being Lent, Holy Week, and Easter -- Lent starts very early this year: February 9!

I'd better go find something to eat, and put the bread in the oven. Yummmmm! Anyone else out there keeping warm on a frigid day today?

No comments: