Mid Winter...Enough Said

The other night I had a really cool dream that I went out into the garden and just underneath all of the snow there were all of these gorgeous veggies that had been growing like the snow was a green house.  I was so shocked and surprised and couldn't wait to bring them in and cook them.  It was way better than the being-chased-by-a-shark-while-diving-in-chummed-water dream I had the night after.  Unfortunately there are no gorgeous veggies growing out there right now (or chummed waters for that matter, which I would consider at this point if they were warm).  I do, however, have garlic in for the spring so at least that is something to look forward to early in the season.  I am ready to start mapping the garden for spring.  I have the countdown at about 45 days til cole crops can go in and about 70 days til summer crop time.  I AM READY!!

It has been bitter, bitter cold here (as with the rest of the country) and we have had more than enough snow days off from school and are just trying to stay warm (um what's with the extremes here momma nature?).  The snow really is gorgeous and it just seems to keep coming this season.  The dog's new favorite place is literally wrapped around the space heater or right in front of the fire with the space heater on the other side of him so he doesn't need to turn over at all.  Pitiful.  The silver lining on all of the winter nesting is that I have been cooking some good winter food. 

Thursday night I did a Spicy Seafood Stew that I pulled from a few recipes and it was perfect for a snowy night.  I find that no one stew recipe is exactly what I want it to be.  I look at them and can tell pretty quickly where it is lacking from one to another and find that kind of just smashing them all together makes for some great stew results.  I used the rest of the corvina in the freezer but any fish will do and some crab claws and mussels.  I will skip the crab claws in favor of lump crab next time (or shrimp or calamari or scallops).  They were a mess to try and eat.  The mussels were great, though, and always make for good hands on eating.  It's good to have to work for the goodness in the bowl sometimes.  Love an interactive dinner.  

      Spicy Seafood Stew

6 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper (any color)
1 cup chopped celery
6 plus 2 more cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
5 cups clam juice
16 ounces tomato sauce
1-1 1/2# white fish, cut into 1-2" pieces (take your pick for whatever looks good)
2# mussels, scrubbed
1# lump crab (this could also be shrimp or calamari or scallops instead)
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 Tbs butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Add vegetables to the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.  Saute until soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Add 6 cloves garlic and saute 1 minute more.  Add herbs and spices, clam juice and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low, add fish and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring often.

When stew is is about ready (25 minutes into cooking), in a separate pot bring wine, butter, and 2 Tbs garlic to a boil.  Add mussels and cover.  Steam for about 5 minutes, or until mussels are open.  Discard any that did not open.  Pour cooking liquid from mussels and lump crab into stew and stir.  Ladle stew into shallow, wide bowls and place 4-5 mussels on top of each bowl.  Top with parsley, a lemon or lime wedge and serve with some good crusty bread.  

I made the Blood Orange Margaritas again to have with it.  I am loving that drink.  It tastes like sunshine in a glass.  Plus I found bottled Blood Orange juice which makes this drink more affordable and way less effort than before (juicing 2 dozen oranges and 8 limes takes some time).   But any good red wine or brew would be fabulous with it as well.

OK, we are halfway there, good people.  We are going to make it.  Until then we will keep cooking and eating and drinking next to the fire.  Cheers.


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