Author: crescentinthepines

Rosemary Chicken Soup with Roasted Root Vegetables & Caramelized Onion.

It is spring, without a doubt, mostly comforting warm with a gentle light breeze. Blossoms have begun to dot the trees and bright green spears of bulbs have erupted all over the landscape. Soft yellow daffodils line the fence and the deep purple irises won’t be far behind.    Inside all the seeds best started indoors have already grown, tiny green sprouts of various heights becoming larger every day and the already larger early spring veggies have been transplanted to the garden, first peas and spinach planted, carrots and radishes sewn. But in spite of all that tepid weather and new growth casting out of the winter season, the wet season has begun here on the plains and the cooler dreary drizzling days simply call for soup. Heavy winter soups won’t do in the early spring climate, but rather something lighter was called for and so this soup, a simple mashing together of other older recipes I’ve had for too long, a good use for available ingredients when a spring soup fix is needed. ROSEMARY CHICKEN SOUP …

Seed starting and the novice.

Outside the garden has been expanded by about twenty feet in two directions and the fence reset, the ground has been tilled, and the overgrowth project continues in the woods, clearing, cutting, and stacking. Spring bulbs and early blooming shrubs are beginning their show and the early cool season’s veggies are hardening off while inside the early and mid-summer season vegetables are sprouting in rapid succession. All the prep for the growing season is moving rapidly toward fruition. Inspired by all this new growth of early spring and the sight of tables full of seeds starting, a quick guide to seed starting rooted in experience seems in order. Starting your veggies indoors gives you not only the advantage of a stronger harvest by besting your local climate but also of not spending a ridiculous amount of money on transplants and giving you a seemingly endless variety from which to choose. Besides, the satisfaction of nurturing your plants from start to finish cannot be understated. But if you’ve ever failed with seeds you know exactly how frustrating the process can be …

Simple Chicken Lo Mein

It is unusually warm the last week and the groundhog is calling for an early spring. With temperatures in the upper sixties and low seventies, I find myself more often outside, tilling, expanding the garden, finishing final pruning, prepping flowerbeds and dotting our acreage with wood stacks from the trees we are thinning. Sunsets are lengthening and twilight finds us on the porch relaxing, springtime breezes and summer afternoons coming so close we can taste them. Even my flowering quince has already begun to bloom. (Another snow won’t come as a surprise however. This is Oklahoma, after all.) But with all this unseasonable warmth, my cravings for soups and winter fare are tapered and for this week’s recipe the Chinese New Year is the inspiration.    This simple version of chicken lo mein takes no time to throw together and has saved me an awful lot on take out over the years. Being where we are and delivery not being an option, it’s perfect when those cravings hit. Happy lunar new year and may the …

Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup

Last week in a hunger for savory warmth, I roasted a chicken, but knowing the snow was coming, I pulled the remaining meat and stored it for making what may just be the finest use of leftover roast (or rotisserie) chicken. Frequently in the summer with the leftovers of roast chicken a lighter version of this soup can be found in my kitchen, but waking to snow and freezing cold, the heartier, creamier version is called for. I woke in mood to do little but read, tend and create, and as these first weeks of the new year are thus far deeply productive, I caved to my relaxation whim. Aside from keeping a warm fire going in the stove and tending the already started early cool season vegetable seedlings now taking up better than a third of the dining room table, there was no real must in the air.    And after some wandering in the cold quiet woods, a bit of reading and mild tending of business, I found myself in the kitchen to create. Outside the …

New Year’s Day Soup

Every year, no matter the kind of year just closed, no matter the hopes or anxieties of the coming year, one thing stays the same. Well, to be more accurate, four things: pork, greens, cornbread, and black eyed peas. Today is vaguely unceremonious for all my excitement at ousting a tiresome year. All the seed cases have been sorted and a list of needed seeds and other garden accoutrement made for the coming season. The annual Twilight Zone marathon has droned on for more than a day. But more than anything, it is a quiet day, calm and tranquil. Rather than casting forward nets toward mighty goals as was my proclivity with yesterday’s goal noting endeavors, today is all about the quiet. After too many months trapped in a forward moving and somewhat productive but more so deeply stormy and saddening year, today is like the first break in the clouds. Our house feels restful thus wrapping up garden planning, idly prattling away in the kitchen, and reading up on new to me ideas in soil …

Gingered Shortbread Cookies

 In the early morning, long before dawn, the cold crept in and woke me. The fire was dying. A quick rekindling and coffee turned on, I took my first glance outside at the icy glaze glistening in the dark. The world had been coated overnight, the first ice storm of the season and winter hasn’t officially started yet.      But Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas tree is up, and plans for hanging outdoor lights are being bantered about. It is that time of the year. And so, since this is the time when homemade sweets are ever at the ready for grazing, a simple cookie recipe. Because I love gingerbread and usually make it around Christmas (to be fair, in my world anything ginger is acceptable any time of the year) but this year I crave the soft sweetness of shortbread, a sort of combination of the two seemed in order. All the sweet sharpness of ginger pairs beautifully with the buttery softness of shortbread, making these cookies a simple go to recipe for …

Winter Vegetable Salad

Love though I do Halloween, Thanksgiving is a very close second. Every year the pattern repeats: up pre-dawn, shower and coffee, begin the feast by 7am. Pies and goodies prepped the night before mingle with timeworn cookbooks and flying utensils while the Macy’s parade plays on tv. We’ll eat in the early afternoon, if nothing goes awry. The menu is planned well in advance, always essentially the same, with or without turkey (we’re a ham family) and with an occasional swapping of a side, albeit scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, and dressing are absolute mainstays. Post feast come naps and decorating the Christmas tree to the tune of E’s excitement and George Bailey finding out it really is a wonderful life. And while those traditions repeat annually, this year something new to celebrate our first Thanksgiving in our home. My poor little 50’s kitchen table I’ve had since college has sufficed as our dining table for a time now, but its scant four feet by just under three feet surface hardly cuts it especially for larger meals. Knowing we wanted something …