Now is Groundhog Day, when a furry rodent meteorologist, Punxsutawney Phil, determines if an early spring or extended winter season will ensue, based on irrespective of whether or not he sees his shadow. It brings to mind the movie “Groundhog Working day,” in which comic Bill Murray plays a weatherman who, even though masking the yearly emergence of the groundhog from its hole, will get caught in a blizzard that he did not forecast and finds himself trapped in a time warp, reliving the identical working day around and above once again. It is a disturbingly apt description of February in northern New England through this pandemic, when operating from property, interrupted faculty schedules and enforced isolation make each individual working day seem to be the same.

All the resolutions produced for the new calendar year — to get rid of bodyweight, try to eat a more healthy eating plan, exercising extra — have already wobbled and fallen by the wayside for us, I reflected as I vacuumed the light-weight film of dust from the clanking exercise device having up undeserved area in a spare area. There has been some desultory converse of investing in a Pelleton-form bicycle, but by the time we make your mind up to do it, the temperature will in all probability have warmed enough that we’ll get outdoors much more and forget about about it.

Also in a demise spiral is our solve to leave behind desserts and treats as soon as the holidays were being about. Who are we kidding below? Who could get through a pandemic wintertime devoid of the ease and comfort of a cookie or two, or some chips and dips? Does any person in the world care suitable now if we shed 10 or 20 lbs? I suspect not.

But we have identified, amidst the wreckage of our resolutions, a couple of new habits that have been less difficult to keep, specifically chopping back again on salt and trying to make even consolation meals lessen in fats. While it’s true that most processed foodstuff are loaded with salt, as very well as preservatives — which includes seemingly benign issues like bagels or a loaf of bread, canned vegetable soups, so-called nutritious vegetable juices and all manner of sausages and luncheon meats — if you check with any superior cook or chef, they’ll confess that salt and butter are the two components that make any recipe improved, even house-cooked types. We have extensive used an herb/salt combination at the desk and for cooking and, to even further minimize again on salt, identified a combine of 24 herbs and spices with no sodium at all to enliven an omelet or salad dressing. Even my go-to favored for seafood and rooster, Old Bay seasoning, will get its kick more from spices and herbs than salt. I also combined with each other a shaker of cumin and smoked paprika, and it is develop into an additional favourite to liven things up. We’re nonetheless eating comforting stews and chowders and favorites like mac-n-cheese, but we have minimize down on salt in favor of herbs, upped the sum of veggies, and in common experimented with to lighten them up. I’ve also used my preferred pie crust substitute for kale- and greens-loaded quiches. As a substitute of a pie crust, just butter a pie plate or tart pan closely and cover the bottom with about a cup of freshly grated breadcrumbs. Press them down firmly and then fill as normal. Have faith in me, you’ll by no means even recognize the absence of a classic rolled pie crust.

You simply cannot reside in Maine and not make chowder, irrespective of whether it be fish or vegetable. We have been producing a mix of the two, introducing corn and carrots to the classic fish, potatoes and onions, and using a vegetable stock base with just a cup of milk included in at the end, relatively than the classic can of evaporated milk. For the reason that we generally have canned clams in the cabinet to make pasta with clam sauce, we toss a can into the chowder for further flavor as perfectly. With bread contemporary from the oven and a salad, it’s a ideal winter’s working day dinner.

L I G H T E R   F I S H   C H O W D E R

2 Tbsp. butter
1 huge onion, finely chopped
2 huge stalks celery, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. Aged Bay seasoning
2 massive carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups vegetable stock
1 10 oz. can clams, drained, juice reserved
1 cup corn, frozen or canned and drained
1 lb. new fish fillet like cod or pollock
2 cups milk
grind or two of black pepper
In a substantial pot, melt butter. Incorporate onions and celery, cooking until eventually vegetables are translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour and Old Bay around top and stir 1 to 2 minutes. Insert carrots, potatoes, vegetable inventory and reserved clam juice. Bring to a boil, then go over and cook dinner on lower right up until potatoes and carrots are smooth, about 10 minutes. Mash some of the potatoes so they thicken the soup or blend a little bit with an immersion blender. Insert clams and corn and cook dinner an additional 5 minutes. Lay fish fillets atop the greens, add the milk, and simmer just till fish is flaky. If you have the time, enable chowder sit for an hour or so, then reheat prior to serving.