Chasing Winter Blues Away

Another sunny afternoon here today, teasing us with blue skies and big puffy white clouds.  Although it’s not biting cold, it’s about 40 degrees, there is still a chill in the air and when you really look around you see the bare, gray trees, the crusty old fall leaves that escaped the leaf blower, and in the corners of large store parking lots, off in the distance, you see a mountain of gray and black, you’re not quite sure  what it is until you get closer and realize that it is left over dirty snow, bringing home the reality that winter is not quite over yet.

Of course I had to take advantage of this decent day and get outside for a bit (rumor has it things go in the opposite direction later tonight), so after running a few errands I walked around the backyard, checking out the flower beds.  I was excited to see that one of my Lenten Roses on the patio has a bud!!  I must say that when we planted these under the evergreens that enclose our patio many, many years ago, I was skeptical that a flower would bloom while there was still snow on the ground.  But they haven’t let me down, they bloom early every year and help me with the winter blues that really do hit me right after the holiday.

 

Lenten Rose - The first sign spring is on its way 2012

 

I am not a winter person, I hate it, it’s not an exaggeration.  I can get through November and December only because there is so much going on with the holidays but once we round that January 1 corner I really do have to find things to do to keep the blues away.  Remember the tulips for Valentines Day?  Not only does Walt get them for me because he knows they are my favorite flower, he also knows that they remind me of spring and that having them helps push the blues away.

In an attempt to beat the blues, right after the 1st of the year I start collecting new bbq recipes for us to try when we open the patio and have guests over.  I begin to scour websites, gardening books and magazines for garden and patio ideas.  I make notes of what flowers I want to separate, which ones need to be moved around, and what area in we will tackle this year to create a new flower bed.

Walt will soon be making plans for our vegetable garden….what we’ll plant this year, what we won’t, what new things we may want to try.  I love the vegetable garden, I love being able to go out into the yard and pick whatever I need for dinner.  At 8 Josh has become an expert gardener, because of something he discovered last year, placing green tomatoes in a brown paper bag until they turn red, I was able to have fresh tomatoes well into October.  Lil E and Kaylee started taking an interest last summer, helping papa pick vegetables and putting them in the basket to bring to grandma.

Another way I try to beat the winter blues is with cooking.  Every now and then I will make something that reminds me of summer, chicken salad sandwiches on cherry nut bread, a Caesar salad with tortellini tossed in, maybe the new spicy taco salad I experimented with and perfected last summer.  Or perhaps, like last night, BBQ Boneless Pork Country Ribs with cheesy potatoes and coleslaw, chased down with a glass of iced tea.

Planning, searching and cooking may not make spring or summer arrive any sooner than it normally would, but it sure does help as I check off one more day in the countdown to the seasons I love best!

 

Slow Baked BBQ Ribs, Cheesy Potatoes, Coleslaw

 

NANCY’S SLOW BAKED BBQ RIBS

Ingredients

2-3 lbs                   Boneless Pork Country Ribs

1 Lg.                       Onion – sliced into sections

                                Garlic Salt – to taste

                                Sea Salt – to taste

                                Pepper – to taste

2-3 Cups               BBQ Sauce (homemade or bottled – 18 oz)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
  • In a shallow baking dish – arrange ribs in single layer – cover with aluminum foil
  • Bake ribs covered for 2 hours – do not remove foil during baking
  • After 2 hours increase temperature to 350 degrees F
  • Remove ribs from dish and place on foil lined baking sheet
  • Mop with bbq sauce – bake 15 minutes
  • Turn ribs over – mop with bbq sauce bake 15 minutes
  • Turn ribs back over – mop with bbq sauce bake 15 minutes
  • Pour remaining sauce over ribs and bake last 15 minute

NOTE:  RIBS ARE GENERALLY CUT TO VARIOUS SIZES, THE LARGER THE PIECE THE MORE BAKING TIME THEY MAY NEED ON THE LOWER HEAT.  CHECK RIBS AFTER 2 HOURS, YOU WANT YOUR RIBS TO BE MOIST COOKED THROUGH.

 

NANCY’S COLESLAW

Ingredients

1 16 oz pkg.                 Coleslaw Mix

1 cup                             Mayonnaise (I only use Hellmann’s Regular)

2 Tbsp.                         Sugar

2 Tbsp.                         Juice from fresh lemon (or bottled lemon juice)

1 large                           Granny Smith Apple – peeled, cored, chopped

1/2 cup                         Raisins (Start with 1/2 cup you can add or decrease depending on preference)

NOTE:                           Sometimes I will also add finely chopped red onion.

Directions

  • Place coleslaw mix in a large bowl
  • Add chopped apple and raisins – mix together
  • In a separate bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sugar and lemon juice.
  • Pour half of mayonnaise mixture over slaw mixture – mix well
  • Add remaining mayonnaise mixture over slaw mixture – mix well
  • Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

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