Best Christmas Menus: How To Prepare Winter Vegetables For Variety In Meals
Thanksgiving to Mardi Gras Is One Big Holiday!
Winter vegetables come to mind during the autumn harvest season in North America and on into Christmas and other December Holidays, New Year's, Epiphany and Twelfth Night Celebrations, and all the fun times extending to Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent. The months from October (Canadian Thanksgiving) to February give us some 4.5 months for trying new party and family meals constructed around holidays and our own traditions.
Shopping For Winter Vegetables and Getting a Smile
I was looking at winter vegetables just tonight, getting a head start on shopping, because they will be on sale later this week.All of the squash looked good and a new delivery comes in tomorrow.
A high note of this trip, really, was seeing a young family teaching their 3-year-old daugher about grocery shopping. Mom and Dad appeared to be in their late 20s and Daughter wheeled in her own small pink grocery cart, her hair flying with her joyful stride. Although the store was fairly crowded, shoppers stopped to watch her and smile as she passed by. to some of them, shopping was torture but to herm it was ecstacy. What fun it was for her to select some groceries, pay for them, and wheel them to the family car!
What Are Winter Vegetables?
Check the national Hardiness Zones for best growing months in your area of North America, while we look at Zone 8 that takes in the rainforest areas of Washington State, eastward to the Carolinas. Some parts of Ohio, for comparison, slip into Zone 8 unofficially in warmer winters (e.g. 2011 - 2012). University Extension services in Washington and Ohio recommend these vegetables as Winter Vegetables:
- Those that are related and anti-cancer as well are the Cruciferous ones: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower
- Leafy ones: Endive, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss Chard
Planting in mid-July to mid-August, you can enjoy "winter" leaf vegetables by cutting the leaves regularly. You cut, they make new leaves, and you cut again.
Root vegetables, on the other hand, may be kept in the ground until the first hard frost. You can put straw down and dig carrots and beets all winter, but you can also dig them after the hard frost annd pack them in some plastic bags in the refrigerator until you want them. On the farm, my father's family used the root cellar and stowed them down there, packed in straw (no plastic back then). They had vegetables all winter.
Many cooking shows on television recommend other vegetables for "winter vegeatables, ioncluding leeks, acorn squash, and collard greens. Below, you;ll find a few recipes form the old recipe card index.
- 1 Head of Red Cabbage, weight about 4 pounds; sliced thin and placed into a large bowl
- 1 Small Yellow Onion, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 Small Red Onion, peeled and sliced thin
- 1/2 Cup fresh-squeezed Orange Juice
- 1/8 Cup fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 TBSP Honey
- 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
- 1/4 Cup closedly packed fresh Cilantro
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Into the large bowl of red cabbage, add both the obions and toss lightly together.
- In a separate bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients and whisk. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Pour this dressing over the cabbage and ioins and let marinade for 20 minutes on the counbter top.
- Refrigerate for up to 3 hours and serve.
Chicken and Broccoli Baked In a Pie
Serves 6 with 15 minutes preparation time and 25 minutes baking time.
- 1 pound fresh Broccoli, rinsed and chopped coarse.
- 2 Cups shredded Colby Jack Cheese
- 1 Cup sweet Onion, chopped coarse
- 1.5 Cups of cubed white meat Chicken, cooked (left over is fine)
- 1.5 Cups 2% Milk
- 3 Whole Eggs
- 3/4 Cup of your favorite Biscuit Mix (your own or purchsed). You can use this recipe: 1 Cup biscuit mix = 1 Cup flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt + 1 Tbsp shortening or butter. Make a few cups and keep in an air-tight container.
- 1 tsp each Salt and Pepper, or to taste
- Pre-Heat the oven to 450° F or 232° C and cooking spray your favorite pie plate.
- In a large bowl, mix broccoli, chicken, and onion.
- In a smaller bowl, mix the remaining ingredients until smooth and pour this cheese mixture over the contanets of the pie pan. Smooth the pie filling evenly.
- Dot with butter, if you like (more calories and fat); and, bake 25 minutes or longer, until a knife blade inserted into the middle of pie comes out clean.
- Remove from oven, cool a few minutes, and serve hot with your Red Slaw from above.
The two dishes provided make a great lunch or light dinner anytime, but they help out a lot during the holidays when you want something simple. Just cover leftovers, refrigerate, and use remainders within 2-3 days. Try the pie with turkey when you have leftovers from Thanksgiving and Christmas or other holidays. Try Ham chunks and Swiss Cheese for a different taste.