Cold weather cookin’


I just watched the first snowflake gently fall upon the over-saturated Eugene soil this morning and decided, yes now is the time. The time to talk about some good ol’ home cook’d warm yer belly winter food. So basically, this is what we, as people of the winter, know: “brr its cold,” “I am even more hungry now,” “Its too cold for anything to grow,” “But man, I am still really hungry.” Well, here is a locavores options for food:

  1. food that farmers (or you!) put in the root cellar to sell/eat at later times. This includes: potatoes, onions, carrots, apples, winter squash, beets, parsnips, turnips, cabbage, garlic, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes
  2. food that you (or a friend or a community member) canned, dried, or froze. This is a wide variety and should be utilized to its fullest! Try setting up a food swap if you are waste deep in chutney but got no tomatoes! The Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking created an excellent guide to hosting food swaps.
  3.  food that still may have a chance of growing (or is still in the ground) including: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, beets, p0tatoes, green onions, and radishes (sometimes). Also, planter herbs or greens that may be kept inside.
  4. animal proteins including: milk and milk products, eggs, and meat
  5. grains, cereals, nuts, and legumes that have been dried by farmers (or you!) and can still be purchased/used.
  6. food that can be foraged. This is mainly just including some mushrooms and herbs (like rosemary)

Now I apologize in advance because, to me, winter is not a vegetarian friendly season of my year. I like to have that little extra lean meat for the fat and protein, so that I am not constantly seeking out grilled cheese sandwiches and hot chocolates. So here are some recipes/dinners/menus I have put together with my local ingredients:

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (20 min prep 1 hour bake)

  • Pork Tenderloin (mine was about 5 pounds)
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2lb mushrooms (whatever kind you like, I used chantrelles)
  • Garlic
  • Seasonings (I used salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, and basil)
  • 1/4 c Parmesan or any type of hard cheese (or no cheese if you prefer)
  • Bacon

Directions: First, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Saute onion, kale, and mushrooms in a pan with oil or butter,  seasonings, and garlic. Butterfly the pork tenderloin so that it may be split and laid open. Then, tenderize and flatten the tenderloin. Once it has reached desired thickness, place sauteed vegetables on tenderloin in a line so that they may be rolled up. Sprinkle cheese over veggies and roll tenderloin. Once the pork has been rolled, tie up with butchers string (if you do not have this, I managed without it as well). Now, wrap tenderloin with bacon (the tenderloin is so lean so the bacon helps to trap in moisture and add flavor), place in baking pan, and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes (depending on size of loin),  the meat thermometer should read between 145 to 160 degrees (this has been debated forever, if you trust your farmer, 145 should suffice).

I served my pork with acorn squash (which I put in at the same time covered in salt, pepper, oregano, and basil) and steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

Bringin’ summer to winter fish tacos (though fish tacos are a notoriously summer and vacation food. I realized it was all very simple for winter though).

  • 1lb Whatever type of fish/seafood is in season (right now its Dungeness Crab, at the time I used rock fish)
  • 1-2 c cornmeal
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • Seasoning (I used salt, pepper, paprika, coriander)
  • 1/4-1/2 a Cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • Queso fresco (its like a Mexican feta, there is a farmer in Corvallis who makes it, but any type of local cheese can be used)
  • 4-6 corn tortillas (I have not tried making these yet, if anyone has any advice/recipes let me know!)
  • Lemon or lime juice (this is my non-local item, but I buy jars of organic juice for canning so I had a bit left over)
  • Green onions and/or cilantro (whatever you can find in season)
  • Nonfat yogurt

Directions: Heat skillet to medium-high heat and oven to 350 degrees. Prepare fish in taco sized portions. Mix seasonings together with corn meal (taste this and adjust as needed). Dip fish pieces in egg and then in corn meal. Fry in heated skillet with oil (you don’t have to use much just enough to sear outsides). Once both sides are seared, place in oven to finish cooking (this should only take about 5 to 10 minutes. While the fish is baking, slice cabbage, shred carrots, and make sauce. I just made a simple kind of “dip” sauce, but instead of sour cream, I used Nancy’s nonfat yogurt and mixed in lime juice, green onions, salt, and pepper for a nice tangy addition. I also had canned salsa that I used for the tacos. I served the tacos with corn that I canned from the summer.  Simple and delish.

Seasonal Sushi (now this one is sort of a cheater dish depending on the rice that is being used, but can still be made with considerable local thought and sustainability)

  • Nori/Seaweed sheets
  • 1 c Rice (now this is a touchy one, you can check out this website to find where rice is grown in the USA or use local wild rice, if enough water is used to cook the wild rice, it will become much softer and easier to use)
  • 1 T Rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T honey
  • Any type of local seasonal fish (we used dungeness crab, oregon coast shrimp that was previously frozen, and canned oregon tuna)
  •  Lettuce, kale, or chard
  • Carrots
  • Green Onion
  • Other options include: cream cheese, apple, pickled ginger, pickled beets, radish, use your imagination!

Directions: Cut veggies and fish into small manageable pieces, usually in matchstick shape. Make rice like normal. When finished add vinegar and honey and mix well, this will help to make the rice stickier. Line bamboo mat (these are fairly inexpensive everywhere, but if you do not have one you can use something like  a place mat) with saran wrap. Lay sheet of nori down and spread rice on nori so that it covers all but about a 1/2 in on top. If desired, you may quickly flip the sheet over so that the rice is on the outside (this may not work if you are using wild rice). Now add a fairly large strip of herbs, veggies, and fish at the bottom edge of the nori/rice (I noticed that the strip looked much larger than I thought I should make, until I rolled it and realized that it was perfect, maybe about an inch to an inch and a half thick). Then start rolling: roll the top edge over with the mat and pull in to make sure its tight, keep slowly working down the sheet until you have a tight roll. Cut in 4-6 pieces and enjoy with slices of homemade pickled ginger or plum sauce.

Root Vegetable Creamy Soup

  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 rutabaga
  • 2 beets (optional- only if you want pink slightly earthier tasting soup)
  • 4 c water
  • garlic
  • onion
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 3 c milk
  • seasonings: salt, peppers, paprika, basil
  • optional: sausage, bacon, or cheese (we will get to this later)

Directions: Ok, so I make my potato soups a little different, if you want to use a crock pot for this, you can just exclude the 4 c water and add everything to the pot. If you want to make it for dinner in an hour though, follow my directions. First, start pot of water boiling. While water begins to boil, ready vegetables. This includes peeling rutabaga (and beet if using), scrubbing all other veggies, and cubing. I rarely peel my potatoes because I like the rustic-ness of them, but you can feel free to peel if you like. Next,  boil the roots until somewhat soft (not mashed potato soft). Remove from heat and strain vegetables. Set aside. Put pot back on burner and saute garlic and onion, once soft and fragrant add milk, stock, seasonings and half of the set aside root vegetables. Then, with a stick blender (or a potato masher) blend up vegetables and let simmer  to infuse flavors and let thicken. If desired, cook bacon or sausage in pan and add to soup. You mace also add cheese by tempering it in (meaning adding a little hot soup to a bowl of the cheese little at a time until it mixes with the soup, then adding the tempered mix back to the pot). Before serving, add the rest of the root vegetables, let them come to heat, and then serve.

You may also add kale, pumpkin, or apple for a sweeter soup.

I would love to hear your local winter recipes! Happy eating!


About Megan French

I am a dreamer. I am a hopeful soul that thinks one day we could come together to support each other in a community; support one another's services, hard-work, products, and knowledge. I hope that one day we can be global and local thinkers; supporting each other economically through local interactions and supporting the world globally by respecting other cultures and learning from them. Through local thought and community relationships we can clean up our world environments, power figures, and idea about what is most important in our lives. It all begins with knowledge and understand about how to get back to the basics: cooking, sewing, foraging, preserving, scouting... DIY for life and for the future of our society.

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