Supplies are gettin’ low down at the ol’ homestead. Which is a shame, ‘cuz I managed to squeeze in a few nights of cooking this week. Next week, I’m hoping I can cook AND blog. There’s a light at the end of my tunnel of lo…work.
So, cursorily: this week’s Dark Days winter local eating challenge used up some (of the many) dried foods I put up last summer. Speaking of love, we had freshly steamed dungeness crabs for Valentine’s Day, then used up the leftover crab meat to make a gorgeous, silky, spicy crab soup. The soup lacked my customary Old Bay (I had used up the very last bit) and home-canned tomatoes (I’m plum out). Instead, I fortified the dried vegetable-and-crab-leg-shell stock base with a couple of cups of half and half. A jar of homemade pepper salsa and just two tiny slices of dried habanero gave the soup plenty of kick.
As for the other dried vegetables, I used about two cups of mixed dried corn, peas, carrots, green beans, butternut squash, onions, red peppers, celery and garlic to six cups of boiling water. The vegetables were a combination of my own garden produce and frozen vegetables from Stahlbush Island Farms, our local organic processing plant. At the end of summer, when vegetables are overflowing the trucks, even the organic frozen vegetable outfits will put their products on sale, so I snapped them up and had a drying fiesta. And thank goodness, because they come in handy.
I let the vegetables rehydrate for a couple of hours, then added the salsa and habanero. While the vegetables were plumping up, I sauteed a small yellow onion and a few stalks of celery. I had my doubts about the dried celery, since I hadn’t dried it properly. I suspected it would be tough, and I was right. Next year, celery chips?
Just before serving, I removed the crab shells flavoring the broth, added the crab and Noris cream, and was good to go. The celery-crab combination is one of those magic flavor connections. I highly recommend it.
By they way, if you’re craving fresh local vegetables, there is already a nice selection at the Winter Farmers Market in the Mazzi’s parking lot on Saturday mornings. You can pick up greens, leeks, onions, potatoes, squash, salad materials, and other good stuff, including dried fruit, eggs, and olive oil. I also scored a wonderful gallon of winter apple cider from Riverbend Farm and some excellent pork chops from the Biancalana family. Yum.