Apparently January is when all the seed catalogs start coming in.

Each is wonderful in its own way.  Territorial satisfies my crunchier side, that part of me that thrills at the phrases “Oregon-based” and “family owned and operated.”  Meanwhile, Burpee satisfies the side of me that wants to see colorful glossy photos of extremely succulent-looking vegetables.  Seriously, their photography is genius.

When there’s a foot of snow on the ground and you’re leafing through seed catalogs over dinner, you are free to build as many castles in the air as you want.  Or greenhouses in the air, as the case may be.  We’ll grow hops!  Horseradish!  Fruit!  We’ll keep bees and put up a bat house!

We’ll grow tomatoes and squash, and hopefully our greens won’t get obliterated by woodchucks like they did last year.  And my herb garden will thrive.  Again.

And if I’m not preoccupied enough by all of the food possible in our future, today all my Christmas cookbooks arrived.

Don’t call Hoarders.

I’ve already learned so much from flipping through these and I can’t wait to really dive in.  The book on the lower right tells you how to make headcheese!  In case I ever need to scrape all the food matter out of a pig’s head.  Never say never.

If this juxtaposition doesn’t convince us to really get moving on berry cultivation this year, I don’t know what will.  Let’s just say that certain dudes are seriously motivated by the prospect of pie.

And after I took those pictures, I realized I’d left one cookbook out because I was using it for lunch.

That’s The Essential NYT Cookbook’s Cream of Carrot soup with a big hunk of stale French bread in the bottom.  Highly recommended for a snow day.

NYT’s Cream of Carrot Soup (adapted for the lazier among us)

Chop one medium onion and sautee in 2T butter.  Add 9 chopped carrots and 4 chopped potatoes – don’t bother peeling – with 6 cups of stock.  If you don’t have stock, use water with a generous splash of shoyu or tamari.  Bring to boil; add 2 sprigs thyme and a bay leaf and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Puree in pot with stick blender.  Throw in a cup of whole milk and another cup of cream if you have it or are fancy.  Finish off with 1/4t Tabasco and 1/2t Worcestershire sauce, taste, decide that this is nowhere near enough, and dose to your satisfaction.  Salt and pepper and 1/2t sugar.  Pour over a really stale chunk of French bread and enjoy.

(For the real version, peel the potatoes.  Use stock.  Use cream.  When vegetables are tender, put soup through a food mill.  Cool soup.  Put soup through blender.  Add additional ingredients, season to taste, and reheat or chill as desired.  Stick to real amounts of sauces.  Skip the bread.  They recommend serving very cold, since it was actually meant as a summer soup.)

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