Spent a great weekend with my son and his two children. They are an energetic bunch I have to say. My son is very sports oriented as are his kids. Active in nearly every organized sport, my grandson was telling me he’d like to be a member of the Olympic skiing team once his body grows into his legs. The entire family participates on the slopes, availing themselves of a time share at Lake Tahoe often during snow season. Where he gets this from I can’t imagine. My perception of enjoying the snow is making a snow angel, then sit in a lovely warm ski lodge enjoying a hot toddy while looking at the view beyond the window.
Hailing from Nova Scotia most might assume me to be an avid skier. Not, not, not. As a child I loved the advent of winter. I was the first one to ask for a carrot to create a snowman, tear down an ice hill on my sled, or pile in line on the toboggan. However, none of the adults in my world skied so though living in the perfect storm climate wise, I was never exposed to it. Not being the most coordinated of human beings, probably this was the wisest course of action. Still I wish I’d pursued it more than once as a young adult. I water ski with the best of them, or did. I played a mean game of volleyball. I’m not bad at tennis, and have always loved to swim. There is a common thread perhaps to all these sports, they are usually participated in in a warm climate.
The last time I went to the mountains to play in the snow I believe I left two of my toes in an icy mound adjacent to the cabin. The toes themselves appear to be still attached to my feet but after finally thawing out have never quite felt the same.
Being small of frame perhaps is the culprit. I get cold quickly and thaw out slowly. Not a happy combination. While living in West Virginia snow was a familiar sight during the winter months, lots of it. Mother Nature was generous in that area with her icy wand and I left many an imprint of my behind on the ice there before relocating back to more tepid sunny California.
In 1993 my ex-husband and I sold our second car before a move from Muscle Shoals, Alabama to St. Albans, West Virginia. Relocating so often with his job back then, having two cars became a liability meaning always traveling separately. One car in the garage posed problems as well. If I needed a vehicle, I had to get up at the crack of dawn and drive my husband across the bridge to work. During summer months this was fine, but a bit chilly when the cold moved into the region. Snow clothes aren’t a fashion statement in frigid areas, rather a matter of survival. When the thermometer sinks well below zero before factoring in wind chill one doesn’t run about in flip flops and cargo shorts unless you were dropped on your head repeatedly as an infant. How Californians approach snow always strikes me as funny. A blizzard may be whipping through the mountain passes with treacherous road conditions and you’ll see some brave soul kneeling at the side of the road pulling chains on their wheels in shorts and a tee-shirt. I salute them. I would remain there until picked up by the coroner’s office for disposal.
Arriving in West Virginia that first year, we moved ourselves first before locating housing. Several weeks later with a rental secured we returned to Alabama to gather our household goods. I remember it well as it was Thanksgiving. The first snow had fallen. Pristine fields with mounded trees reflected in the intermittent glare of the headlights as we drove along winding country roads. Most houses were well lit. Lines of cars telltale signs families were gathering to celebrate the holiday. Not knowing a soul in the area we ate turkey and the works by ourselves, save a waitress and a couple of line cooks, at a Cracker Barrel restaurant along our route. At the time we had an old Ford pickup. The smaller furniture was in the back covered by a tarp, with the larger pieces coming by truck the following week. Bits and pieces poked out here and there like a coconut protruding out the sides of a macaroon. Up front Sushi, our Shih Tzu, slept on my lap and Kitty, our old gray cat, perched in the window keeping a wary eye on the dog. Light snow had begun to fall. Large flakes swirled around outside the window and cold seeped in through the seams of the old truck. Occasionally a bump caused things to shift in the back as well as relocating our spinal cords. Rutted roads accentuated the rough ride caused by the shocks going out on the old beater eliminating much of a chance for a smooth ride. A particularly large divit resulted in us flying through the air unseating the dog and causing our load to shift behind us. Looking back through the window the tarp had pulled up on one side flapping madly in the wind. Pulling over to the side of the road we assessed the damage. A chair belonging to our dining room table seemed to be the only item gone awol. Grabbing a flashlight from the glove compartment we surveyed the area. How beautiful it was standing in the dark with the snow dusting our coats and hair. Stars twinkled overhead and an owl hooted somewhere across the pasture. Currier and Ives couldn’t have painted a lovelier picture.
A cold wind cut through my coat like it was cotton so I urged the search to continue with my teeth beginning to clack together. Out in the field as if waiting for company to arrive our lovely chair sat upright in the snow. Had we added a snowman carrying a serving tray with a towel over his arm it would have made a great holiday card. Trudging through the deep drifts we unearthed it and dragged it back to the truck none the worse for wear. It’s funny now to think of it sitting there waiting for an occupant. I suppose had we left it there a passing rabbit or raccoon might have perched on the red plaid for a moment to check out the view.
As lovely as snow is to look at, I prefer not to live anymore in an area where it comes down copiously. Last year we had four days inside when we got a good winter storm but for the most part we live on the periphery of anything more serious than that. I like it that way.
We have a small local market which produces the best rotisserie chickens I’ve ever tasted. Moist and chubby, I often recycle the remaining chicken into soup. This one was a keeper.
Slow Cooker Cream of Chicken and Broccoli Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch of broccoli florets
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
10 fingerling potatoes, skin on, chunked
2 cups rosisserie chicken (garlic preferably)
10 cups rich chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 Tbsp. flour
Cooked rice (I used rice pilaf)
Heat oil in large deep frying pan over med. heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, broccoli, and mushrooms to pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 8 mins. until vegetables are tender.
Spray bottom of 6 quart slow cooker. Place sliced potatoes in microwaveable dish. Cook on high for 3 mins. Add potatoes, chicken, and broth to pot. Add vegetables to slow cooker along with bay leaves and seasonings. Cook for 8 hrs. on low.
Whisk together cream, milk and flour. Whisk into soup. Cook for an additional 2 hours on low stirring once.
Serve over cooked rice.