November food

It's time for some cold-weather suppers.

Here we are in November.

Daylight saving time is gone and the nights seem to last forever. Nine o’clock now feels like midnight and around 10:30, you begin to wonder if you somehow got transported to Alaska.

I’m still of the opinion that we need an extra hour of sunlight more in the winter than we do in the summer. Getting dark at 6 p.m. is for the birds and a month from now, the sun will go down at 4:45. That’s too early for me.

A chill finally arrived over the weekend. I’ve been craving soup beans and cornbread, but it has just been too warm for that winter cuisine. Now it is cold enough to throw some dried beans in the slow cooker with a few slices of bacon or a ham hock.

There’s nothing like a big helping of soup beans with a whole raw onion chopped up and thrown into the bowl. Of course, you need that old pone of cornbread, too. You can’t beat a supper like that on a cold winter’s day.

Now we snow lovers can begin watching the weather for possible storms. Remember that, in 1987, parts of the Washington, D.C., area got more than a foot of snow on Veterans Day.

There have also been a number of snowstorms later in the month, especially around Thanksgiving. Get your shovels ready.

I’m in pretty good shape for the winter. All my kindling is split and stored and I’ve got enough firewood for two years. Bring on the cold.

Which reminds me: We’ve had a good frost, so now you can eat persimmons without getting your mouth turned inside out.

It finally rained enough to soften the earth and allow me to do my fall plowing. Now the soil can freeze and thaw for four months and be ready to work by late February.

Speaking of rain, I’m officially declaring our fall drought to be over—at least at my house. We got more than eight inches of rain in October. That makes 47-plus inches of rain that has fallen into my gauge so far this year, four inches more than our total annual average. Nature always evens things out.

Remember a few weeks ago I talked about a possible squirrel migration? With red and white oak trees having few, if any, acorns, those little boogers are now eating everything in sight. They have already consumed every dogwood berry on my land and are still looking for food.

To make matters worse, some folks are complaining that some sort of disease is causing the meat of walnuts to shrivel up. Like acorns, it has been a poor walnut crop this year and diseased nuts will make it even harder for squirrels to find food this winter. A migration seems more and more likely.

If you think the first 10 months of 2019 went quickly, you’ll find that November and December will seem to be little more than a blur. Many stores are already decked out for Christmas and some people have already begun shopping for the holiday.

Thanksgiving is only three weeks away. It is late this year—Nov. 28—which means there will only be about three weeks between Turkey Day and Christmas. That is a short shopping period, so be prepared.

One final note: For several years, readers have asked me to put some of my old stories into book form, so this year, I did. “Down on the Farm” came out in mid-October and will be available in limited supply for the Christmas season.

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. Winter is just around the corner.

Now all we need is a foot or so of snow.

Bring it on!

Donnie Johnston:

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