During a recent trip I saw the first snowfall of the year in my home community of Mistissini, located in the Inland eastern James Bay area. It reminded me of the cold winter days and the food simmering away on a wood stove. The pots were always big as my grandparent had a host of children and they in turn were starting to do the same. Also you never knew who would show up at the door. I don’t think I ever saw anyone turned away. Winter is a time for stews, hearty soups, meatloafs and such. You need the energy. I added the old fashioned chicken soup recipe because it turns out chicken soup is good for helping with colds, both as part of a cure and a preventative.


Puerto Rican Stew

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces 1 large onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

4 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled 4 bay leaves

2 tablespoons all purpose-flour 2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth

2 cups dry red wine

4 large potatoes, cut lengthwise into quarters

3 large carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed, halved Chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add beef in batches and brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl.

Add onion ànd garlic to pot and sauté 5 minutes.

Add parsley, thyme, bay leaves and flour. Stir 2 minutes. Gradually mix in broth and wine. Return beef to pot and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered 45 minutes.

Add potatoes and carrots to stew. Simmer until meat and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Add green beans and simmer until beans are tender and gravy is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer stew to large bowl.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.


Old Fashioned Chicken Soup

On a cold winter day, this hearty soup is practically a meal in itself.

16 cups canned low-salt chicken broth

1 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces 1/2 cup chopped onion

2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced 2 celery stalks, sliced 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter 1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

8 ounces dried wide egg noodles 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Combine chicken broth and chicken in heavy large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl.

Cool chicken and broth slightly. Discard skin and bones from chicken. Cut chicken meat into bite-size pieces and reserve. Spoon fat off top of chicken broth.

Return broth to simmer. Add onion, carrots and celery. Simmer until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. (Can be prepared a day ahead. Cover chicken meat and broth separately and refrigerate. Bring broth to boil before continuing.)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Add mushrooms to broth; stir in noodles, parsley and reserved chicken. Simmer until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.


BBQ Sauce Meatloaf

The leftovers make outstanding sandwiches.

1 pound lean (15% fat) ground beef

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread

1 cup chopped onion

2 large eggs

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 11/4 cups bottled barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in bowl. Add 3/4 cup barbecue sauce; mix until just blended.

Pack mixture into 81/2×41/2×21 /2-inch metal loaf pan. Spread remaining half cup sauce over top. Bake meat loaf until top feels firm and thermometer inserted into centre registers 160°F, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Slice meat loaf thickly and serve.


Simple Standing Rib Roast

1 standing rib roast of beef, about 6 1/2 pounds

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, thinly slivered Coarse salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450 °F.

2. Make small slits in the meat with the tip of a small knife; insert the garlic slivers. Rub the meat with salt and pepper. Roast on a rack in a shallow pan for 25 minutes.

3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and roast for 16 minutes per pound (about 13/4 hours), or until a meat thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 135°F to 140°F for a medium-rare centre. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Roast Tips: Start with a very high oven temperature to seal in the meat juices. (This is equivalent to browning meat before roasting.) When the meat comes out of the oven, let it rest before carving, or the juices will run out.

Roast beef with Glazed Onions and Worcestershire Gravy

3 large onions (about 11/2 pounds), sliced thin a 14- to 16-ounce can tomatoes, crushed and drained in a sieve 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

a tied boneless 3-pound rib roast at room temperature

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 cup beef broth

1 cup water

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

In a roasting pan combine well the onions, the tomatoes, the oil, and salt and pepper to taste and roast the mixture in the middle of a preheated 500°F. oven for 10 minutes.

Stir the mixture, put the beef, seasoned with salt and pepper, on top of it, and roast the beef and the onion mixture in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and roast the beef for 12 minutes more per pound, or until a thermometer registers 135°F, for medium-rare meat or 160°F for well done.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and let it stand for 30 minutes. Transfer three fourths of the onion mixture to a bowl and reserve it, keeping it warm, covered. To the mixture remaining in the roasting pan add the flour and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Whisk in the broth, the water, the Worcestershire sauce, and any juices that may have accumulated on the cutting board and simmer the gravy, whisking and scraping up the brown bits, for 10 minutes. Transfer the gravy to a small saucepan and skim the fat from the top. Just before serving, carve the beef, arrange it on a platter with the reserved onion mixture, and garnish it with the rosemary sprigs. Bring the gravy to a boil, transfer it to a gravy boat, and serve.


Roasted Potatoes

Ever wonder what to do with the left over goose oil? Here’s a tasty idea. As soon as the goose is removed from the oven, increase the oven temperature and roast the potatoes while making the sauce for the goose. It will require about 25 minutes of your time to make total. The rest of the time is cooking.

4 lb small (1 1/2- to 2-inch) boiling potatoes

3/4 cup rendered goose fat or oil, reserved from roast goose

2 teaspoons salt or favorite salt substitute.

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Cover potatoes with salted cold water by 1 inch in a 6-quart pot, then simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 12 to 20 minutes, depending on type of potato. Drain in a colander and pat dry.

Toss potatoes with goose fat in a bowl. Spread potatoes in 1 layer in a large roasting pan and roast in middle of oven, turning once, until golden, about 30 minutes. Toss with salt or salt substitute and pepper.


Cabbage Burger Bake

There is a wonderful autumn crispness in the air. During this time and in winter there is nothing like a hot meal to warm your insides. This dish is fast and tasty. If you like a little kick to your taste buds, include some salsa with the spaghetti sauce or season with some great spices like the Cajun Spice Mix.

1 medium cabbage shredded

6 slices bacon (or bacon bits can be used)

2 cups uncooked rice (can use minute rice)

2 lbs ground beef

1-32 oz can spaghetti sauce 1 cup water (less if minute rice is used)

1 chopped onion Salt & Pepper

Spread half of the shredded cabbage in buttered shallow baking pan. Lightly sauté bacon in fry pan. Remove bacon, drain and

set aside. Stir onions and rice in bacon drippings in pan. Cook rice and stir over medium heat until onions are soft and rice is slightly brown. Spoon over cabbage in baking dish. Brown beef and spoon over rice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with remaining cabbage. Heat spaghetti sauce with water to boiling point. Pour slowly over cabbage so sauce can seep into layer underneath. Top with bacon-cover and bake 400 degrees for 1 hour.


Maple Baked Beans

I’m sure more than a few of you in Cree county used to remember the smell of the beans cooking. I loved the way my grandmother made them with molasses and that. In my travels though I came across this interesting baked beans recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

2 cups dried navy beans, picked over

7 oz salt pork (rinsed if crusted with salt) or thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon dry mustard

4 cups water

Quick-soak beans: Cover beans with water by 2 inches in a 4-quart heavy pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Drain beans and put in a 3-quart wide shallow pot or flameproof baking dish along with remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil on top of stove, then cover tightly and bake in middle of oven until beans are just tender, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake until most of liquid is absorbed and top is slightly crusty, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more.


Healthy Cooking Tips

Using honey in your cooking can be an asset. When baking any pastry a tablespoon of honey will keep your pastry fresh longer because honey is hygroscopic. This means that it draws moisture from the air, which keeps your pastries from drying out. Honey also enables you to reduce the liquid in your cooking. Reduce any liquid called for in your recipe by a quarter for every cup of honey you use. Be careful though, honey can cause over-browning so be sure to reduce the temperature of your oven by 25 degrees.

To substitute honey for sugar try the following:

* Approximately 7/8 cup of honey is equal to 1 cup of sugar.

* 1 12 oz. jar of honey equals a standard measuring cup.

* Try substituting half of the sugar in your recipe with honey. Eventually, with experimentation, you can replace all of the sugar with honey.