North Carolina Snowpocalypse

Yesterday, after work, we found ourselves in the middle of a steamy frenzy at the grocery store. It was a show of sorts, if you know what I mean. The cart we grabbed was soaking wet and slick beneath our hands thanks to the rain. The shop was without butternut squash and basil and had very slim pickings in the lettuce department. Matthew and I commented that the scene was ridiculous but quickly acknowledged that we were also waiting in line to stock up. It was a trying exercise. So, what gives?  Our weathermen, from multiple channels, are reporting that Charlotte is set to receive more snow than we have seen in ten years. Oy vey.

While the Charlotte snowstorm forecast might not be of the polar vortex category, for us it is a Snowmageddon for sure. Six to twelve inches of snow and possible ice could yield a borderline migraine for the citizens of our city. There are rumors of power outages; my fingers are tightly crossed that this is not the case. I have heard colleagues ruminating about schools being let out early and already announcing closures for tomorrow. On the upside, people are excitedly staring out the windows at the furious flurries whizzing about and wondering aloud, what comes next. I think it is sticking. News just in, the office is closed tomorrow. Oh joyous occasion. 

In the event that the weather forecast does ring true for our neck of the woods, it is imperative that one align their affairs. For me, this means getting organized in the food and drink department. For Matthew, preparation calls for filling the cars with gas, pulling out candles and fully charging all necessary electronic devices including but not limited to cell phones, iPads and very important, electric toothbrushes. Due in part to advantageous weekend planning that had nothing to do with snow, our fridge is now stocked with Ezekiel flaxseed bread, smoked turkey, organic eggs, chicken broth, cold quinoa elbow noodles, pulled chicken breast, greens galore and six pounds of boneless pork ribs that if weather transpires as predicted, I will salt tonight and braise tomorrow

I plan to serve our beloved carnitas with a big salad of Bibb lettuce and chopped radishes. It is favorable that I bought avocados on sale at the weekend, which are ripening on the counter and will help shape a homemade Green Goddess dressing. I will also soak some beans tonight, just in case.  Pinto beans taste brilliant when cooked slowly in a pan with chopped bacon, thyme, cumin, garlic and chicken stock.  Yesterday, we also made a chance stop at our favorite haunt for libations of the grape sort for me. This spot was clearly a hot ticket as a couple of my favorites were not in stock but it’s all good. So in short, we are bracing ourselves albeit prepared. Boardwalk Empire (for Matthew) and Girls (for Elizabeth) marathon here we come!

Such cold weather is perfect for soups, chilies and my favorite, stews. This month’s Bon Appétit magazine has a section dedicated exclusively to recipes you can pull together in your Le Creuset. Throw everything in and leave it to simmer on the stove all day. Serve in shallow bowls with some fresh grated hard cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and if you like, crusty bread. Leave the pot on low heat so folks can return with the designated ladle as the day ensues. The below recipe is a new one for us. I made it the day before, refrigerated it and tenderly reheated on the stove. I selected it to serve as a Meatless meal and wow, did it deliver. The anchovies, chilies and pecorino rind gave tremendous depth to the stew. The combination of greens and nutty chick peas meant that I hardly noticed that the brew was without meat. Matthew went back for thirds and took a bowl to work for lunch today. A winner for sure. Stay warm friends.

Spicy Beans and Wilted Greens
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Recipe by: Alison Roman


¼ cup of olive oil plus more (leave the bottle out)
4 anchovies packed in oil
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 white onion – chopped
5 ribs of celery – chopped
1 Parmesan rind – I used Pecorino Romano as sheep’s milk cheese likes me
1 lb of dried chick peas – soak overnight and add more water as needed; they are thirsty little things
1 head of Tuscan kale – chopped
1 packet of organic baby spinach
4 cups of arugula
10 cups of water
Kosher salt

Now for the Fun Part

1. Add ¼ cup of olive oil to your Dutch oven on medium heat. Throw in your anchovies and watch them dissolve. It is a beautiful thing. Now add the garlic as well as the red pepper flakes. Stir around until fragrant. Now add the onion, celery and rosemary. This is also the time to season with salt and pepper. Take a pinch here and there. Stir around until the onion is cooked.

2. Now add 10 cups of water, your soaked beans and the cheese rind. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer but you still want to see gentle bubbles here and there. Let it be for four hours. Once the timer strikes, taste a bean; it should be so delicious that you want to reach for another followed by another.

3. Crush a few beans in the pot and add the kale, spinach and arugula. Cook until the greens are wilted and a lovely bright color. Give a generous stir, season with salt and pepper.

4. Dish up in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, some freshly grated cheese and the squeeze of half a lemon.

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