Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Mid-Winter's Supper

I have read at least one source that suggested that one of the reasons people survived February in the Middle Ages -- a month that spans between starting to run out of stored food in January and being able to harvest early greens and young animals in March -- is because the stored rye used to start going bad about that time.  Rye tends to be a great breeding ground for ergot, which, when ingested, apparently produces an LSD-like reaction.  So, there is at least some evidence to suggest that our forebears used to unwittingly drug themselves to make it through this cold, dark month.

I'm not advocating eating ergot or taking drugs, but there is something about February that makes me want to curl up under a fleece quilt with a box of snack cakes and just cry until March.  That is just one reason why it is so important that I find meals that are very nutrient-dense to help us stave off the cold and depression that can plague all of us in winter.

What you see before you is whipped butternut squash with local, raw honey and applewood-smoked bacon, and dill-encrusted wild-caught cod.  It was pretty easy to make, and it loads up on lots of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and other potentially-beneficial substances in food.

Whipped Butternut Squash with Honey and Bacon
3-4 small butternut squash (I'm down to the little guys from last year's harvest)
1 T. local, raw honey, or to taste
About 1 cup crispy fried applewood-smoked, uncured bacon bits

Place halved and seeded squash cut side down in a pan of water and bake in 350 degree oven until flesh is soft, about 30-45 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop bacon into bits (choosing uncured will allow you to avoid nitrates) and fry until crisp.  Drain bacon and pat to remove excess fat.

Scoop flesh from butternut squash and whip with immersion blender.  Add about 1T local, raw honey and whip again.  Top with bacon.

Dill-Encrusted Cod
2 large wild-caught cod fillets
About 1T. dill (mine is from the garden)
Fresh-ground salt and pepper to taste
About 2T. local, organic butter

Place cod fillets in a baking dish with butter, dill, salt, and pepper.  Be sure to cover the fillets evenly with the dill.  Bake at 350 while your squash cooks and you do the final preparation of the squash, about 30 minutes, or until done.  Because of all the butter, it will stay moist and nice if you leave it in the oven to stay warm while you do your final squash prep.

The Analysis

Fast:  I'd say this meal took about an hour and 15 minutes to prepare, but there was a bit of downtime in the middle there while things baked that I used to clean up the kitchen, etc.

Cheap:  Well, cheap wasn't really the point here.  I saved some money by growing my own squash and dill, but I spend up on the local, raw honey and local, organic butter, and I splurged on the whole fillets instead of my usual trick of buying the "pieces" package of cod that is usually better-suited for frying.  You can play with your costs by making different choices, although you want to stick with really good, healthy ingredients to boost that nutrient load.

Good:  Although it didn't make February pass any faster, this recipe was a definite bright spot in our day, and much better than a dose of ergot and a good cry.

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1 comment :

  1. I also hear people complaining about February all the time, but it's one of my favorites . . especially since I get a day off work for President's Day!

    (although I'd probably feel differently if I was starving my way through the month like the olden days - ha)