Savoring the Seasons: Recipes to cope with unpredictable weather

  • Roast chicken stuffed with potatoes is a great dinner go-to recipe. TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

  • Mary McClintock

For The Recorder
Published: 3/14/2017 11:56:29 AM

What a roller coaster of a winter! March-like weather in January, then a few weeks of winter with so much snow, I almost asked my neighbor, Walter Goodridge, to bring his bucket loader to push snow mounds from my driveway edges so Chuck Stacy could work his snowplowing magic.

Then, it warmed up. Snow melted, I saw frogs crossing the road in Montague during the warm rain of Conway tornado night. Now, in March, we’ve had two wind chill advisory January-like weekends, and, as I write this on Sunday night, the forecast calls for 10 to 16 inches of snow on Tuesday.

Yet, spring will come. How do I know? Because I got my annual “spring-dug parsnips alert” email message from Michael Docter of Wintermoon Roots in Hadley. His spring-dug parsnips will be at Green Fields Market this week.

Aren’t fond of parsnips? Try “Mary’s Parsnip Challenge”: get Michael’s parsnips, wash and peel them, cut into quarter- inch “coins,” saute in butter. So sweet they should be dessert.

Winter got you down? Amy Dryansky from Conway said on Facebook: “I’m at the point in the winter where I’m tired of everything I cook. Anyone have a recipe they want to share?”

Amy’s friends had superb suggestions. Naila Moreira’s cream soup recipe is perfect for parsnips. Rebecca Bluh’s novel recipe for stuffed roast chicken really livens up a meal.

Another Conway friend, Jimmy Recore, got me thinking about fiddlehead season with his response to my question about how he prepares venison from the big deer he shot last fall with his bow. “As far as venison goes, I am a cast iron skillet man,” Jimmy said. “ For steak, or even a burger, it’s a pan just about hot enough to smoke, greased with bacon fat out of the coffee can full that is always in the fridge. In goes the steak or burger on medium heat for no more than a few minutes on each side. This lean meat needs to come out of the pan still red in the middle. Salt and pepper are the only seasoning I may add while cooking. I wish to enjoy the truly unique taste of animal I have worked so hard for. A burger may get a thick slice of Danish blue cheese just to make it that much more special. Add some fiddleheads frozen from last spring, your favorite red wine, and a few other hunters armed with their latest stories, and that’s a perfect meal. The evening after I arrowed the big deer, I cooked one of the tenderloins and looking down at the plate with tenderloin and fiddleheads, I was overwhelmed thinking about how awesome it was that my whole meal came from my backyard. Three cheers for Conway!”

This week we’re eating ...

Cream Soups: by Naila Moreira, Northampton

Cream soups are easy and warming for winter. Saute your vegetable (my favorite options: butternut squash, mushrooms, carrot, cauliflower) with half a large onion, diced, until soft.

Place veggies/onion in big pot, covered by about 2 inches of chicken stock. Salt, pepper, basil to taste. Boil until flavors blend. Place in blender and puree. Add splash of heavy cream.

Garnish with sprig of fresh parsley for extra elegance. This can also be made with potatoes, leeks, parsnips, or mixed winter vegetables.

Roast Chicken Stuffed with Potatoes: by Rebecca Bluh, Greenfield (adapted from Jeff Smith, “The Frugal Gourmet”)

One of my all-time favorites is a roasted chicken stuffed with potatoes.

Boil potatoes and mix in fresh parsley, garlic, capers, olives, a few mashed anchovies. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cook whole chicken stuffed with mixture for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and roast for 20 minutes per pound. Do not add the extra 15 minutes to the cooking time as with the regular method.

Cook extra stuffing along with the chicken. Fresh rosemary is a great addition to this recipe.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to


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