We had been jonzing for some snow up here at Turtle Creek all winter. There’d be predictions and rumors; hints and allegations; threats and speculations; and then nothing. You would think that living in the great northern Georgia woods we’d see flakes on a fairly regular basis. But, where we’re located, the terrain and currents push the bulk of the wintry mix far to the west and north of us… when it happens at all. So, I didn’t put a whole lot of stock in this week’s prediction that we would enjoy a 1/4″ of blissful late afternoon precipitation, since the bulk of the storm was going to be far south of us.
Even as the snow did begin to fall at 9 am, it was anemic. Small pinhead sized flakes that looked more like kosher salt than snow. Jane and I glanced out the windows occasionally enjoying the mist-like snowfall, and in our minds thinking that’s nice… but it wont last long.
By two o’clock, we had just over 2″ of the tiny flakes on the ground and the snowfall was constant and relentless. By 3 pm, the temperatures dipped below 20 degrees and the snow had become so heavy it looked as though we were encased in a deep, deep fog. By the time the event ended, we had accumulated nearly 5″ of packed snow. Everything was covered in fine powder, It clung to the trees and branches, it blanketed the woods, it obliterated the neighborhood road. We could have been living in the middle of a field for all anyone knew.
So, as it turns out, wanting snow and getting snow don’t quite create the same slice of inner peace that you’d think. By mid-day Wednesday I was done and I wanted it gone. And even now on Friday I’m considering rigging together a flame thrower out of my leaf blower and a tank of propane to eliminate the last traces of it. The thing is, we’re on a ridge. And 99% of the ridge slopes (including the road) are in shadow. Even with 55 degree temps, it will be sometime Tuesday next week before I can safely maneuver the car out for provisions. And that just doesn’t make me all warm and fuzzy inside.
* * *
But, snow days means soup and cornbread – and that does make me all kinds of happy.
Buttermilk Potato Soup & Cornbread
Since I had this killer buttermilk from Homestead Dairy – and since I didn’t think the storm was going to do anything – so there was no actual milk in the house… I figure why not make a soup with it instead.
There’s something perfectly satisfying about potato soup – the starchy chunks of potato, the thick, silky broth – the way one simple bowl can fill your tummy and lull you into a deep peaceful sleep. Since I wanted to potatoes to retain their shape, I’ve par-cooked them in the microwave for 8 minutes before assembling the soup. You still get an ample amount of potato starch in the broth without the tubers disintegrating into mush.
Serves 4 to 6
To Par Cook the Potatoes:
6 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes – Peeled and Cubed
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Large Zipper Bag
Peel and dice the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes, toss with salt and place in a zipper bag. Micro on high for 8 minutes with the bag unzipped about 1″. Carefully remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
For the Soup:
1 Cup Chopped Leeks
1 Strip Bacon – Diced
2 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Cups Buttermilk
1 Bay Leaf
1 Teaspoon Each Cracked Black Pepper and Salt
1 Cup Chopped Iceberg Lettuce
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Large Dutch Oven
While the potatoes are cooking, heat the dutch oven over medium high heat and add the bacon and leeks. Saute until the leeks are translucent. Add in the Potatoes and saute another 3 minutes turning gently
Add in the stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
Reduce the pot to simmer and gradually stir in the buttermilk. It is important to do this slowly to keep the buttermilk from initially breaking. Once the starches have built up in the broth, the buttermilk will stabilize and you will be able to raise the temperature to medium low.
Continue stirring once you raise the pot temp and cook for 6 to 8 minutes – or once the broth begins to thicken.
Discard the bay leaf and dish up into large flat bowls. Top each bowl with 1/4 Cup of the Chopped iceberg and a quarter of the red pepper flakes.
Serve with a Pan of fresh hot Buttermilk Cornbread.
My cornbread recipe is more of an eyeball thing than an actual recipe. I’ve always made it the exact same way, and I’ve never had a misstep.
Makes 1 10″ Pan
1 10″ Skillet
As Much Oil as you Have Eggs
As Much buttermilk as you have Eggs and Oil combined
1 1/2 Cups Self Rising Corn Meal Mix (We here prefer White Lily Corn Meal Mix, as a rule)
1 Large Bowl
Place the Skillet in the oven and preheat the oven to 485.
Crack and whisk the eggs into the bowl.
Add the oil and whisk again until the mix thickens a bit.
Add the buttermilk and whisk again – it will look like salad dressing relatively quickly.
Add the cornmeal mix and whisk again.
The resulting batter should look like waffle batter. If it is a little thick, add WATER until it thins down properly.
Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and grease with lard.
Pour in the batter and return to the bottom rack of the oven and bake until the top of the bread is even and brown and resonates with a THUNK THUNK when you tap the center.