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Winter Comforts with Chef Bruce Wood


Chef Bruce Wood is a well-known culinary teacher, consultant and former chef of Ottawa’s Urban Element and Mariposa Farms. He is the à la carte food literacy project's guest blogger for the month of January. You can see more of Chef Bruce Wood at our Cooking Essentials programs in February and March.


Winter is one of my favourite times of the year to cook.

While it is lovely being outside skating, skiing, or enjoying winter pursuits, the more blustery days provide an excuse to stay inside and create something warm and comforting. When I mentioned chicken and dumplings with tarragon to my partner recently her eyes lit up with anticipation. During the winter months we don't have access to the bright, fresh vegetables of summer so we must be more creative with what is available. Roots and tubers are delicious when roasted and caramelized, paired with alternate cuts of meat that benefit from long slow cooking. Indeed the heady, herbal, rich aromas that emanate are divine and fill your house with a nostalgic warmth.

Cooking this way also encourages the use of local vegetables. We can anticipate the return of spring and await the first asparagus but for now carrots roasted with wildflower honey, cider vinegar and fresh thyme will provide our culinary bliss.

It is a pleasure to gather family or friends and assemble a winter dinner together. Get one group working on the main course and another on the side dishes and the rest setting the table. While dinner is cooking play a game, or just sit around and chat. We all have busy lives but to take a few hours out of our week to enjoy each other's company is an ideal way to spend a weekend afternoon. Another great advantage to this style of cooking are the slow cooking times and the ability to reheat well, so on your return from the hockey practice or ballet lessons dinner is already warm and waiting for you.

Any cooking at home returns control of our food choices to us. We can decide where we buy our protein and vegetables or buy from the local brewery for the beer to put in the stew. In this way we can control what is in our food and help to support the local economy.

It is a glorious time of year to slow down a bit, gather your friends and family together and enjoy a meal prepared with love and caring.


Comfort Food by sherry_library