Welcome to 2023! I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season, although I expect more than a few people got tangled up in the holiday travel disaster — as my wife Marisa and I did.
The holiday period saw extreme weather in many areas. California escaped most of it, but it now appears we are just late to joining the party. For the last four years, we’ve seen mostly warm and dry winters as drought grips our state — albeit with occasional short detours into very wet weather.
But during the same time period, other parts of the world have seen extreme flooding from heavy rain. While it’s true that climate change is making hot weather hotter (and drier in CA), it’s also making storms bigger and stronger.
It would appear that it’s our turn for extreme wet weather. The scenarios for January appear quite similar to January of 2017 — the year that killed the drought of the twenty-teens. I don’t think it’s time to celebrate the end of the 2020s drought, but it might be time to start the party planning.
Everyone develops bad habits during long droughts in California, like outdoors New Year’s Eve celebrations or camping trips in January. Farmers are no different. Prior to 2015, I never even penciled in any planting activities in January — it was rarely dry enough to bother even worrying about it. But since then, we have planted at least a few crops every January. This year, I went so far as to contract for transplants for delivery next week. It looks unlikely that we’ll be able to plant those any time soon.
Another “bad” habit we’ve gotten into at the farm? Only harvesting crops on days when it’s not raining. It appears we’ll have to kick that habit this year.
One of the habits you may have gotten out of during the last few warm and dry winters is making hardy winter soups and stews. If you’ve only really started cooking a lot since the pandemic started, maybe you never even learned how.
But with weeks — yes, weeks — of chilly, wet weather in the forecast, you may want to get reacquainted with some of your old favorites or try out some you’ve never made.
Your CSA boxes the rest of this winter will provide some assistance. You’ll be seeing a steady supply of root vegetables, leafy greens and leeks. Combined with beans, herbs, spices, and
broths, you’ll have dozens of different combinations to work with. Omnivores can add other ingredients as well.
Most winter stews and soups benefit from long, slow cooking. While they take a little more planning, they are also easy to prepare in larger quantities, meaning you’ll have leftovers for another meal. And unlike many leftovers, they usually taste better the second time you eat them.
Lastly, a slow-cooked soup or stew will warm you and the rest of your household up, both while you’re cooking it and when you eat it.
New Soup Year!