Hot food takes chill out of winter

Posted: Monday, October 20, 2003

Winter, with its dark days and cold weather, offers Alaskans a respite from the frantic, 24-hour activities that make up our summer.

Nature's season for rest and recharging will be taken literally by some. They will hunker down, stoke up the stove, catch up on their reading and add a layer of personal insulation.

A warm meal and the dark of winter have a way of giving us a sense of comfort and security, making it easier to slow down the pace.

Gathering in the kitchen for conversation and fellowship is how many families define keeping the home fires burning. Sharing recipes is really about sharing family traditions, and winter is the perfect time to experiment and try new recipes.

The recipes offered here could never cover the eating quirks, requirements or food styles of everyone, but they can be adapted to suit many types of food preferences.

Chili and chowders topped the list of my informal survey of "What's your favorite winter food?" These two recipes have been tested and declared delicious by friends and family.

Clam Chowder

(Shared by Evy Gebhardt, advertising

director for the Peninsula Clarion

and contributing food editor for

the Taste of Home Magazine)

1 cup water

3 cups thinly sliced potatoes

1 small onion halved

2 cup grated carrots

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 leafy celery top

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 dozen small steamer clams

2 cups half and half (or milk)

In a large sauce pan with a tight fitting lid, bring to boil water, onion, bay leaf, leafy celery top and salt. To boiling water add approximately two dozen scrubbed steamer clams. Boil for five minutes and discard any clams that don't open.

With a slotted spoon remove clams to a dish to cool. Strain and save the broth, there should be about two cups. Rinse the pan. Return clam broth to pan and add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and butter. Cover and cook over low heat until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, shell clams and mince clam meat with a knife. Combine minced clams with half and half. Gently heat, stirring constantly. Add to broth mixture. Season with fresh ground black and cayenne pepper. Serves four. Serve with crusty French bread.

White Chili with Chicken

(This is one of my recipes and my family's favorite winter chili.)

1/2 pound navy beans (or four 15-ounce cans of white beans)

4 ounces chopped green chilies

1/2 large onion, chopped

2 ounces jalapenos (optional)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cayenne pepper to taste

1 quart chicken broth

3 whole cloves crushed

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin

2 pounds cooked chopped chicken breast

2 1/2 teaspoons leaf oregano

In a large stock pan combine beans, onion, garlic powder, chicken broth and simmer for three hours or until beans are soft. If using canned beans use low heat until heated through. Add cumin, leaf oregano, cayenne pepper to taste, cloves (crushed), green chilies, jalapenos and chicken.

Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. For thicker chili leave the lid off while simmering. Garnish with Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream. Serves five.

Hot Cocoa

(Shared by Tammy Clancy)

A quick way to warm up is a hot beverage. The following recipe is economical and easily adjusted for personal preference. By using different flavors of powdered coffee creamer or adding powdered vanilla, this recipe can take on a new twist and never get old.

10 quarts powdered milk

1 pound powdered sugar

1 pound powdered chocolate mix

1 10-ounce jar powdered coffee creamer

In a large container with a tight fitting lid combine milk, chocolate mix, powdered sugar and coffee creamer. Use 1/3 cup mix per eight-ounce cup of boiling water. Store in a cool dry place.

Fudgy Brownies

(This is one of my recipes

and has been tested and approved

by family and co-workers.)

Dessert is the reason to lick your fork clean and hang around the table listening to adults talk. I chose brownies because they are versatile morsels that many feel can cure the winter blahs. Brownies can be topped with ice cream, caramel, frosting or anything else you can dream up. Besides, it's chocolate!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

5 large eggs lightly beaten

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup chopped nuts

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9x13-inch pan and set aside. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt (optional.) Set bowl aside.

In a heavy sauce pan combine unsalted butter and chocolate. Heat on low until melted smooth. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until blended.

Blend warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture, stir in nuts and combine with dry ingredients. Mix till until just blended. Spread evenly into prepared pan, bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs attached. Serve warm.

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