WanderFood Wednesday: Potato Soup for the Soul

by Samantha Scott
( January 27th, 2015 )

Potato Soup

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hit with the January doldrums a bit recently. The holidays bring on such a high, and then January is kind of blah. It’s still cold outside, but getting lighter in the evenings already, so the thought of Spring is in the air, yet garden fresh ingredients are still minimal. This is the perfect time for Potato Soup!

Hearty and delicious, potato soup can be customized to however you like it and it’s very easy to make. A perfect in-between seasons treat!

Adapted from a potato soup recipe on Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

Bacon – 5 slices, diced

Reserved Bacon Grease – 3 Tbsp

White or Yellow Onion – 1 Cup, diced

All Purpose Flour – 1/4 Cup

Chicken Stock – 2 Cups

Milk – 2 Cups, Warmed

Yukon Potatoes – 1.5 Pounds, Peeled and Diced

Cheddar Cheese – 1 Cup, Shredded

Sour Cream – 1/2 Cup

Kosher Salt – 1 tsp

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper – 1/2 tsp

Directions

1) In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook diced bacon until crispy. Transfer to a separate place, reserving 3 Tbsp of grease in the pot.

2) Saute onion in the stockpot for 5 minutes, until soft. Sprinkle flour on top, stir until combined. Cook the flour and onion mixture for another minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken stock until combined, and then add the milk, potatoes, and cooked bacon bits. Cook to a simmer, but make sure it doesn’t boil!

3) Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes; prevent burning by stirring contents occasionally.

4) Once potatoes are soft, add cheddar cheese and sour cream, as well as salt and pepper to taste.

5) Garnish with any desired toppings! Green onions, chives, and bacon are always popular!

Eat Well,  Travel Well ~ Samantha

Photo Credit: Luca Nebuloni via Flickr

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WanderFood Wednesday: Exploring Wine Country Gardens

by Samantha Scott
( January 21st, 2015 )

One of my favorite creative exercises is finding beauty in unconventional places. When it comes to gardens, wintertime doesn’t exactly scream “beautiful.” But I found nothing but beauty when visiting two impressive wine country gardens this weekend.

Many wineries have gardens. They keep the soil rich, the bug population busy and regulated, and they look pretty too! But these two take it the extra mile, utilizing their gardens for dinners and to aid with biodynamic farming.

Lynmar Winery, Russian River

Lynmar Garden Path

Lynmar Winery is  a beautiful place to go tasting. They have a large, open, patio, spatious indoor tasting area, and of course lovely gardens! They have a kitchen onsite from which they prepare seasonal, fresh meals utilizing what the garden provides.

Lynmar Seed Barn Garden

Lynmar Garden Bright Stem

Hospitality Manager, Michael Cima, walked me around and gave me a sense of the Lynmar culture and the events they put on. One that struck me was Pinot and Pizza, which happens over the summer. Pinot grapes are used in the tomato sauce and Chardonnay yeast in the crust. What a perfect way to tie in everything the winery has to offer!

Lynmar Garden Kale Sign

Wineries are typically seasonal in terms of staff, but Lynmar has 3 full time hirees specifically for tending to the gardens, which is indicative of how much they care for what they grow.

Lynmar Garden Mint

If you are interested in going to Lynmar and seeing their beautiful setting for yourself, they offer tastings daily, with appointments required for groups of 7 or more.

Quivira Winery, Dry Creek Valley

Quivira Garden Herbs

Quivira Winery is a certified biodynamic winery which means it’s essentially a self sustaining farm. The garden componet is essential for biodynamics to work and Quivira’s garden is truly impressive. They also have wildlife including cows and chickens!

Quivira Gardens Cows

Quivira Gardens Chicken

Quivira Gardens Baby Cow

Biodynamics is a very strict type of  farming, also requiring a year round team. The gardens are essential to the biodiversity of the farm and help regulate bug populations. Widely considered to be a farming style that focuses on having the least invasive or destructive effect on the land, it’s becoming more and more popular for wineries.

Quivira Garden Winter Colors

Quivira is open for tastings daily, with reservations required for groups of 10 or more.

Do you have any favorite wine country gardens you’ve visited?

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

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WanderFood Wednesday: Venison Stroganoff

by Samantha Scott
( January 13th, 2015 )

Stroganoff

In celebration of The Oregon Trail computer game now being available to play online, and yes, yours truly has already had two oxen die while forging the river, here is a recipe for Venison Stroganoff. It is very likely something like this may have been eaten along the Oregon Trail, albeit as a luxury, particularly given the European origin of stroganoff!

Adapted from this recipe on the Just A Pinch website

1. Buy supplies at the General Store. You will need: 5 Tbsp Flour, 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil, 7 Tbsp diced White Onions, 2 (8oz) Cans Tomato Sauce, 3/4 tsp Garlic Powder, 1/2 tsp Salt, Black Pepper, 1 Tbsp Worchestershire Sauce, 2 (4oz) cans Sliced Mushrooms, 8 oz Sour Cream, Extra Wide Egg Noodles, and Parsley.

2. Hunt for deer. Make sure you get at least: 1.5 lbs, conveniently cubed.

3. After forging the river and making sure no one is dying of cholera or exhaustion, you can start preparing the meat! Toss the cubed venison in a bowl with the flour until fully coated. Add the vegetable oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the cubed venison and cook until it’s about 3/4 of the way done. Add the diced onion and cook until the meat is fully browned. Cover skillet and remove from heat.

4. Preheat fire, ahem, oven to 325 degrees F.

5. Add tomato sauce, garlic powder, salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and Worchestershire sauce to a casserole dish and stir, mixing all ingredients fully.

6. Add venison meat and onions to the casserole dish, stirring so everything is thoroughly mixed. Cover and place over fire, ahem, in the oven to cook for 1 hour, 30 minutes. (Take out after one hour, stir well and add the sour cream and mushrooms before placing back in the oven for the final 30 minutes).

7. Meanwhile bring water to a boil in preparation to cook the noodles. They should be in water within the fifteen final minutes of cooking time for the mixture in the oven.

8. Place the desired portion amount on plates and top with the meat and sauce. Garnish with parsley and voila!

Enjoy and let me know you’re favorite memories of playing Oregon Trail!

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

Photo Credit: Naotake Murayama via Flickr

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