Snowed-In Cooking Lessons

The Law Center has been closed all week. My class yesterday was cancelled. Today, we have blizzard like conditions in the District. It is now going on five days of being stuck inside. Yesterday, I ventured outside to drive four blocks to the closest gas station, and the road by our building was so awful, I almost didn’t make it that far. Knightley may be in heaven having me home all of the time, but I am itching to move beyond a ten block radius.

Until the winds calm down, the snow starts to melt, and moving beyond Capitol Hill becomes an actual possibility, I have been inside cooking. It passes the time and at least gives us something tasty to eat. Fortunately, we have good friends that live inside the building, so even before David made it home on Sunday night, I had someone to share my culinary efforts with. Here are a few lessons that I have learned over the course of the very snowy past five days:

1. Brining a chicken before roasting it makes all of the difference. On Saturday, I made the most delicious roast chicken that I brined in a salt/sugar bath before roasting it. That combined with the rosemary/butter rubdown that it got before I put it in the oven made it my most delicious roast chicken effort ever.

2. Impromptu Superbowl parties with homemade pizza can really warm up a cold evening. The pizza dough recipe may have been all America’s Test Kitchen, but the sauce recipe was all my own. Starting with a 28 ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, I pureed them in a food processor, then added in shallots and garlic that I had sauteed in Olive Oil. I threw in some red pepper flakes for some heat, and pureed the mixture together. I then put the tomato sauce in a saucepan, and simmered the flavors together for 20 minutes. We topped our pizzas with a variety of artichokes, mushrooms, olives, pancetta, and a variety of cheeses (including one with feta), and the results were fantastic. As a result of the homemade pizza deliciousness, San Marzano tomatoes will always be a part of my food storage.

3. Breaded roast leg of lamb is a perfect cold weather dish. Using a variety of herbs, plus Parmesan cheese and panko, I breaded and roasted the leg of lamb last night and David and I invited our friends Matt and Erin over for a snowstorm feast. The problem with the grocery stores here is that they are sold out of fresh produce. And I mean sold out. There is no fresh produce to be had in the city or surrounding metropolitan area. This makes fresh vegetable accompaniments difficult to find. Fortunately, I had a bag of carrots still in my fridge, so was able to add some glazed carrots as a side. (We have ample supplies of boxed rice side dishes too, which certainly come in handy.). Yesterday, before the snow started to fall, David and I sought out some additional provisions across the street at Union Station, and purchased some dark chocolate bars from the Godiva store there so we were able to make some delicious crisp chocolate cookies for dessert. Not a bad meal for a snowy night when the roads were so bad I couldn’t even make it to the grocery store. Not bad at all.

4. The biggest lesson that I have learned from this snow storm is the importance of having a pantry stocked with staple items that you can use in a variety of ways during an emergency, when you can’t make it to a grocery store. Food storage is making a tremendous load of sense to me right now. Additionally, having a freezer with some varieties of meats helps too. We have a large supply of shrimp and frozen mahi mahi in the freezer which should see us through the rest of the storm and until they get the roads sufficiently plowed. We have ample grits, onions and shallots in store too, so I am envisioning shrimp and grits for dinner tonight. Also, I still have some frozen veggies left over from my parents’ garden on hand. I am also grateful for our Costco trips stocking up on Pelligrino drinks as well. I don’t think there could be a bigger proponent of food storage than me right now.
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