Zipping Up Winter Vegetables

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Rockin’ Roots & Kicky Coles

Years ago, I was discussing winter gardening with Steve Solomon. We were both writing for Sasquatch Press in those days, and his book Growing Vegetables West Of The Cascades was game changing for me and many others. Steve explained that his family was able to live on just what they grew themselves. I was wildly impressed and said so, but his wife gave me a wry grin and said “In winter, we eat a lot of cabbage.”

Well, yes. There is that. Cabbage is marvelous stuff, but day after day… it could get a little old. The same can be said for all the winter roots, as our ancestors knew full well. Cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, all that their root cellars could hold might (hopefully) last out the winter, but you can bet that by spring everybody was mighty  glad to get a taste of something fresh and green.

Blessed Abundance

In a day when many of us can eat almost anything from anywhere in the world any day of the year, it’s hard to imagine just how uninspiring that limited diet might get to feel. It seems ironic that those of us who try to eat seasonally are embracing at least a certain amount of dietary restriction that our forebears might have thought distinctly odd. If they could have enjoyed fresh asparagus and raspberries in winter, you can bet they would have done so with relish. The fact that the term “fresh” is very relative (how old is that asparagus, really?), and that those choice tidbits may have been grown halfway around the world would probably have been seen as utterly irrelevant.

We, however, have both the luxury of exotic choice and an amazing bounty of fresh, local foods to choose amongst, more than any previous generation in the history of the world. Thus, we can enjoy our daily cabbage (or cole relative) spiced with the satisfaction of knowing ourselves to be well fed while lightening (at least a little) our burden on the earth.

Love The One You’re (Blessed) With

All this is really an excuse to share some of my current favorite recipes with you. The truth is, I love cabbage. And broccoli. And Brussels sprouts. And kale (but you knew that). I also love potatoes, carrots and onions, perhaps immoderately. I love playing with these favorite foods and finding new ways to delight in them that my ancestors could probably not even imagine. Such as….

Best Ever Broccoli

This stuff is decidedly addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bright Winter Broccoli

1 pound broccoli, cut in florets
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 clementine, sectioned and peeled
1/4 cup diced apple (Opal or Gala or…)
2 tablespoons caramelized onions
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Steam broccoli for 3 minutes, plunge in cold water, drain, set aside. In a saute pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat until it sizzles. Add onion, garlic and salt and cook for 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (including broccoli), heat through and serve. Serves 2-4.

Jewel Burst Cauliflower

1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
1 cup raw cranberries (frozen work fine)
1 Cara Cara orange, sectioned and peeled
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1 lime, quartered

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour 1 tablespoon oil in a rimmed baking sheet, add cauliflower and cranberries and rub with hands to coat. Sprinkle with salt and roast at 400 F until lightly caramelized (30-35 minutes). Toss with orange sections, paprika and remaining oil and serve, garnished with lime wedges. Serves 2-4.

Baked Potato Cakes

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped *
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook potatoes until fork tender in water to cover. Drain and mash with remaining ingredients. Shape into balls (about 1/4 cup each), pat gently into circles and bake at 400 F until crisp and brown (15-20 minutes). Serve hot. Serves 2-4.

* Peeled or not, at your pleasure (if organically grown, I leave the peels on).

Hearty Carrot Soup

1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium yellow potatoes, chopped (see * note above)
1 pound plump carrots
2 tablespoons flaked nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional)
1/2 cup diced apple (Honeycrisp or Braeburn)

In a soup pot, heat oil, onion, garlic and salt over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add celery, potatoes and carrots, cover pan, reduce heat to medium low and cook until well sweated (8-10 minutes). Add water to cover by an inch, bring to a simmer and cook until very tender (20-30 minutes). Puree with an immersion blender and season to taste with nutritional yeast and paprika. Serve hot, garnished with yogurt and/or chopped apple. Serves 4.

Love it? Hate it? Let me know…


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3 Responses to Zipping Up Winter Vegetables

  1. Claudia Meadows says:


  2. Carol Sperling says:

    Hi Ann,

    Last fall I contacted you about an article you wrote in the Islander (10/24/14) regarding lawn restoration. You wrote back with some good advice, but sadly, we missed the opportunity to follow your suggestions in the fall. So now my question is if we can follow your basic lawn renovation technique, i.e. crushed rock/compost/overseeding, this spring. If so, what might be a good time to begin this procedure? Right now, the lawn area we’re planning to renovate is still quite soggy (standing water in some places). Any suggestions you can make would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hey Carol,

      Spring is a fine time to do the lawn renovation techniques, but I’d say do it as soon as you can, since we may be looking at a dry summer (not much snowpack on those mountains). If you miss again this spring, I’d wait until the rains return this fall, unless you feel like you can keep the renewed lawn area reasonably moist through what may be a water-restricted summer.

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