What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. -Steinbeck

Out here in the Montezuma Valley we’ve got a really short but intense winter season with low temps that can hover around zero and down into negatives for days at a time… with strong snow storms that can dump feet of snow at a moments notice…wind that’ll take your breath away (and just about anything else not completely secured)…

and so while there isn’t ever a time of year that ranch work grinds to a halt, during these few months of what I can only describe as ‘snow hurricanes’, I do frequently find myself with an abundance of time and energy to cook. More often than is the case during the peak of the growing season/summer when my appetite has been robbed by 6-8 straight weeks of daily heat exhaustion symptoms and 18hr days. At any rate. Winter.

We’re also fortunate out here in our abundance of bright Rocky Mountain winter sunshine which means with a little season extension effort there’s a lot of things still coming out of the ground (or greenhouse, as the case may be). Traditional storage crops tend to do really well here during the summer growing season and the lack of overall humidity year round means we can pretty easily keep many things fresh well into the Spring. In the coming weeks my winter cooking (and blog recipes) will mainly focus on those crops: potatoes, onions, parsnips, turnips, carrots, beets, spinach, kale, collard greens etc. as well as the meat we have in the freezer from last year’s harvest: lamb, pork and beef.

I’ll explore some of the classic american farm cooking and food preservation traditions as well as focus on the regional traditions of ‘southwestern’ cuisine of Colorado/New Mexico/Mexico and I’ll also do some looking way back to the Pueblo and Anasazi people and how they ate and preserved many of the same crops we’re still growing in the region today. I’ll include some updates as the the happenings around the ranch, orchard and gardens including what we’ve got going into the ground and when we can expect to see various things coming into season (and the kitchen). Hope you’ll stop on back and check out what’s cookin down on the ranch. Maybe it’ll inspire you to go a little wild west in your own kitchen frontier.

We’ll start off this week with a few variations on one of my favorite taco toppings, pickled red onions. Coming soon.