Preparation for recipes for cold weather began in the fall with the stocking of staples for the kitchen. In Ohio where I grew up there might be days when you are stuck at home due to the weather. After so many years in Florida, I almost forgot the idea of “being stuck”.
I am snowed in; in Tennessee! I was planning to enjoy some of the local Christmas events here in the Appalachian Mountains and then return back to Florida for Christmas. I have been so busy that I didn’t keep up with the weather forecast and everyone around here says “We don’t get snow or bad weather here”. Well, guess what! It came! It started with rain and snow mixed; too bad to go out. Then it turned to just snow.
I kept sweeping the porch off thinking the snow would stop but it didn’t. We probably have about three inches on top of ice. I certainly don’t want to venture out on these mountain roads with all the icy bridges. So I am snowed in! I am now watching the weather alerts. The temperature is dipping to 10 degrees tomorrow night and Wednesday night. It is warming up a little on Thursday with rain and ice mixed; then another storm coming in next weekend. It doesn’t sound good but those old recipes for cold weather are coming in mighty handy and I have plenty of time for cooking.
Thinking back when I was young in Ohio, Dad usually butchered a pig every fall. Pork was a big portion of our recipes for cold weather. This was a time to get your winter supplies in for times like I am now experiencing. This practice has always stayed with me whether in Ohio, Florida or thankfully Tennessee. My fondest food memories are of the delicious pork cracklins which came from butchering the pig. You might know them as pork rinds but nothing like the snacks in the bags which you might buy. These pork cracklings were left after rendering the lard.
As the grease fried out of the fat the cracklins begin to rise to the top of the kettle. Once they have all turned a golden brown the heavy pot is removed from the heat and strained. Once strained well the pork cracklins are moved to clean cloth or towels to absorb any remaining grease. Once the cracklins stop crackling, which they really do as their name implies, it is time to taste. These are delicious to eat when warm (can be reheated) seasoned with salt, pepper and some like a little cayenne pepper.
NOTE: When I worked at NCR, the pork cracklings were the biggest request that people wanted me to bring to work in the winter. They would place them on the heaters and by 9 or 10 AM. The whole plant smelled delicious. There were never enough to go around.
A few ground cracklings are great flavoring added to stuffing, biscuits, cornbread and many other recipes for cold weather. The following trail mix has the pork cracklins added.
Combine and mix well. Store in air tight containers in a cool place.
The fresh lard rendered from the butchering was wonderful for all the recipes for cold weather. Back when I was young we never had a choice as to other shortenings to use in baking. Others were too expensive so everything was made with lard. Lard was always used in biscuit recipes and pie recipes.
Combine the dry ingredients. Cut in the lard. Add buttermilk and knead on a floured board for a few minutes. Roll out and cut. Bake at 400F degrees until golden brown.
Birds need good recipes for cold weather too! The following is a bird suet recipe. It doesn’t matter how much of each you use. You just need to make it so it sticks together when shaped in balls or when you press into pine cones. Hang these from the trees and the birds will love them.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Combine soup, milk, onion and mustard; blend well.
Spread sauerkraut in a greased 9X13 inch baking dish; top with uncooked noodles.
Spoon soup mixture over top of noodles; top with sausage and then cheese.
Combine bread crumbs and butter in a bowl; sprinkle over the top.
Cover dish with foil tightly; bake for 60 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Cook noodles al dente.
Brown meat in skillet and drain grease; add celery, onion and garlic and cook until done.
Add herbs, cream and cream cheese to skillet; cook over low heat until cheese melts.
Add wine, Cheddar and Gouda cheeses stirring until cheese melts; remove from heat.
In a small bowl stir egg and cottage cheese together.
In a greased 9X13 inch baking dish layer ½ of each: noodles, meat, cottage cheese mixture and Mozzarella.
Repeat layers; bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes; let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Can be prepared ahead of time and placed in the freezer; serves 6 to 8.