Somehow I always repress it – that feeling I get this time of the year – although it is acutely part of my daily life from January through to March (sometimes even April), it becomes a distant and unreal memory throughout the rest of the year. Winter fatigue. Ugh. Call it seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder, winter blues – it’s all the same. Winter gets me down, and every year I inconveniently forget to prepare myself for this dismal period of time until it hits me head on.
Winter in Canada is brutal – I won’t lie – and keeping myself motivated is a huge challenge when all I want to do is snuggle up under a big blanket by a roaring fire. But my stomach and chalkboard refuse to stay empty so I’m forging ahead with meal planning this week, despite my seasonal fatigue.
Sunday Food Party: This morning I made Ina Garten’s Winter Squash Soup from Barefoot in Paris, one of her many fantastic cookbooks. It feels fitting given the bitterly cold weather outside, and the big bowl of this golden orange soup that I had for lunch kept me warm all afternoon. We’ve got plenty leftover for lunch this week and I made a Penne Pasta Salad to go along with it (for my addiction to carbohydrates – just what I need to cure my seasonal depression).
The pasta salad is adapted from a super simple recipe that an old neighbour used to make: 4 to 6 cloves of garlic minced and heated until fragrant in a medium frying pan with enough olive oil to fill the bottom of the pan, about 1/2 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs added to the cooked garlic and fried for about 2 to 3 minutes, a generous bunch of minced parsley tipped into the pan and mixed in with the breadcrumbs – all dumped on top of about 1/2 of a package of cooked penne pasta and tossed to coat. I add a bit of grated Parmesan cheese right away and stir it in so it gets all melted with the heat of the pasta, and after I’ve covered and cooled the pasta in the fridge for at least an hour, I add another handful of grated cheese, stirring to combine with some salt and pepper. Garlic + Parsley + Cheese + Carbs on Top of Carbs = Pure Happiness.
For dinner we’re giving this Beef and Barley Stew a shot. This is a special request from my man, who almost never has specific meals he wants to try, so I’m extra excited to make him something that he really wants. When he said he wanted beef and barley, I tracked down this recipe almost immediately on Pinterest and it looks like a good find because it lasts a few days in the fridge, making a good leftover weeknight meal, and it can be frozen! (This might be great for future Sunday food parties.)
Monday: Turkey Taco Stuffed Peppers. Sourced on Pinterest, I’ve made this recipe a handful of times and it’s an easy weeknight dinner… Plus I’m hoping that the spicy heat in this dish will warm us up. I might even throw in some extra cayenne pepper just to be safe…
Tuesday: Beef and Barley Stew, Part 2.
Wednesday: Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice. (Essentially a weekly staple on the chalkboard.)
Thursday: Chili from the freezer. I made this chili in January and it feels like the batch that won’t quit. We’ll eat big bowls with sour cream and cheddar cheese for garnish, along with some blue corn chips for scooping.
Friday: Indian Takeout! I’ve been craving Indian food for weeks and finally my man has agreed to ordering some on Friday (he’s not a big fan), provided that we get LOTS of Naan bread.