by Debra on February 7, 2013

It’s mid-winter and while we’ve had one really good snow this season, as I look out my windows today, I see brown grass and bare trees – it all melted when the rains came whipping through a few weekends back. We’ve had a few additional days of snow but nothing really major and the local weather-guessers are saying that temperatures will reach near 40 sometime this week.

The Professor has returned to campus and we’ve settled back into our usual routine: up at 5:30am, quick breakfast of a green or other vegetable drink, maybe a bit of yogurt topped with homemade granola and he’s out the door – satchel slung over a shoulder, scarf tucked tightly around his neck, hat secured on his bald head, hot tea in a commuter mug in hand, ready to shape the minds of 20-somethings; I’ll leave it to you to determine just how much ‘shaping’ those brains are ready for at 8 in the morning. Honestly, I’m not sure how much brain ‘shaping’ is going on in my own head at 8am in the morning.

One of my favorite parts of winter is watching our birds at the feeders; I say ‘our’ birds because we live in the country and the back of our property is a protected wildlife refuge. Our birds swoop and glide from the refuge to the feeders and back all day; sometimes they’ll perch themselves on frail remnants of dead garden stock, black silhouettes bobbing up and down against the stark white of the snow, then back to the feeders they go. The shocking red of the male Cardinal is probably my favorite, but the black and white spotted Downy Woodpeckers are beautiful too. There is a gracefulness about the way they fly in and out of the refuge, as if performing a Waltz on a ballroom floor – lilt, two, three . . . lilt, two, three . . . wings perfectly still as the wind lifts and carries them from the feeders back into the woods.

Winter in the Midwest is also about fires in the fireplace, wool slippers and pajamas worn until noon on the weekends; it’s about stick-to-your-ribs chilis, soups and stews. This ‘recipe’ is one of those ‘grab-whatever-vegetable-you-happen-to-have-in-your-refrigerator-and-toss-it-in-a-pan’ kind of recipe. I didn’t intend to post it and at the last minute, grabbed the camera to take a single shot – no real ‘styling’ other than a napkin and a spoon. But this dish celebrates the glorious root vegetables of winter and is as much at home during the week as it is on a weekend – I’d even serve this to company with a good crusty bread, a tossed salad and a nice red wine – perfect for conversation with friends on a winter Sunday afternoon.