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Grim's Grub: Combat cold weather with hot cookin'

During winter, however, we can supplement our wood, propane or electric heat with food preparation, which is actually pretty cool. Not only can we add heat to the air, using a crock pot or steamer we can add moisture as well, something sorely lacking in the winter air. On those particularly cold days when it feels like the cold has soaked into our bones, we can even add a little spice to heat us from the core.

I'm sure people are tired of talking about the cold, but this is Minnesota in February so we have a little bit of weather talk to go yet. Might as well talk about weather - and food while we are at it.

The concept of cooking is an interesting one. In the world of physics, heat is usually treated as a "waste" product of whatever else is going on, be it moving engine parts or chemical reaction. We humans intentionally create that waste product to help us prepare tasty eats!

Sadly, that heat is still pretty wasteful while cooking. Some goes into our food, but some goes into the air and isn't all that productive at all. That's why we tend to like cold foods and cooking outdoors in the summer when the oven would compete with the air conditioner.

During winter, however, we can supplement our wood, propane or electric heat with food preparation, which is actually pretty cool.

Not only can we add heat to the air, using a crock pot or steamer we can add moisture as well, something sorely lacking in the winter air. On those particularly cold days when it feels like the cold has soaked into our bones, we can even add a little spice to heat us from the core. Add a little nostalgia with a favorite family recipe, and you can do a little spiritual warming as well.

Of course, as required of a Minnesotan, I am including a hotdish recipe (from a very cool murder mystery/recipe book by Pat Dennis, "Hotdish to Die For").

In addition, I highly recommend roasting meat, particularly large birds, hams and roasts, because they can take a long time to cook. They do, however, require more attention than crock pot recipes. A prime rib requires approximately 15 minutes per pound of meat when cooked at 325 degrees (cook until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees). Turkey will also require approximately 15 minutes per pound, but must reach 165 degrees. Ham requires 10-20 minutes per pound.

A very big ham, turkey or roast could mean long cooking times. If you add in dessert, your meals can provide plenty of supplemental heat.

Debbie Grimler's Chili (but in a hot pot)

  • 2 pounds hamburger, browned
  • 2-3 cans tomato juice
  • 2-3 cups chili beans, drained
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup celery
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a large crock pot, stir well and allow to simmer for three or more hours. This chili can be spiced up by adding ground spices, tabasco or hot peppers. I once substituted part chorizo and chipotle peppers for a very spicy chili.

Mom wrote in her recipes, "You can spice it up to your own taste. Best to put heat on table for whimps. LOL."

Cajun Shrimp Hotdish

  • 16 ounces frozen tails-off shrimp (small)
  • 1 can cream of shrimp soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 1 red pepper, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • Bread crumbs

Rinse frozen shrimp in cold water. In an oven safe pan, ramekin or pot, combine all ingredients except for bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumbs across the top in a thin layer. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees while covered. Bake an additional 30 minutes uncovered.

If you have no small children present, leave the oven door open after cooking is done and the oven is off.

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