Over the last few days we’ve been given a little insight into what’s in store for us this Winter living in the Gypsy Roller, and all I gotta say is ZOINKS. The temperature during the day has remained reasonably warm, but at night it plummets to zero and even makes its way below zero by the time I get out of bed at 6am. I should reiterate that we’re new to the Okanagan by way of Vancouver, where Winter by most people’s standards – drifts of snow, punishing wind chill, think any stereotype of Canada – doesn’t really happen; it just rains interminably and the sun doesn’t come out for about 5 months. And it rarely gets all that cold, at least compared to pretty much everywhere else in the country. So when the temperature goes into the negative numbers I start freaking out a little, as I have been this week. Luckily the propane furnace does a decent job of keeping the trailer warm, but the floor – where Hunter spends a great deal of time (we’ve learned the hard way that he’s not yet trustable on any raised surface) – feels pretty cold in spots, making me wish we had wall-to-wall shag carpet (wouldn’t that be a sight to behold). Apparently the trailer is ‘winterized’ but I’m assuming this refers more to its capacity to keep the cold out than its inhabitants sane and entertained inside its walls during the Winter months! That we’ll have to figure out for ourselves, I suppose.
With the arrival of colder weather, things have changed dramatically around the trailer park. The two outdoor pools have been drained, and flowers pulled from the beds. The tourists have left, leaving behind only longterm and permanent residents, or ‘full-timers’ as they call themselves. Grimly, the little store at the entrance to the park has stopped serving ice cream. And the voluminous caftans worn by many in the Summer have been exchanged for polar fleece jackets, the kind depicting howling wolves and dream catchers. I’ve even spotted a covetous animal print number yesterday. Our neighbours have been keen to offer advice about wintering in an RV, and many a horror story too: weeks straight of borderline subarctic temperatures, FEET of snow, snow on the ground until April, frozen ‘poo hoses’ (don’t ask), frozen water pipes, FIRES resulting from attempts to thaw said hoses and pipes with blowtorches. So thanks to my neighbours, and augmented by my imagination, I think I have a pretty good idea of what the worst case scenario looks like.
All this talk of fridgid temperatures has made me seek solace in food, and more specifically CARBS. With the evenings so chilly, you’re probably not going to find me sitting down to eat a spinach salad for dinner. It’s the time of year for pastas, stews and soups, which I inaugurated last week with my Molasses Baked Beans and Yams with Sharp Cheddar. This week I was more in the mood for pasta, plus I wanted to put to use some of the gorgeous vegetables that come into season this time of year in the Okanagan. I’ve ranted here and here about how much I love squash, but have only ever used acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash in my cooking.
Faced with legions of less common Winter squash varieties at the grocer earlier in the week week, I decided to stray into foreign territory and try on a delicata for size, which according to my research tastes like a cross between butternut squash and a sweet potato. I was initially tempted to roast the thing, as is my compulsion with all vegetables, but decided to refrain and saute it instead, so as to experience its ‘true’ flavour alongside the other Fall vegetables I selected: carrots, zucchini and parsnips. Now I realize parsnips are sort of a dorky wallflower type of vegetable, and despite being a bit of a dork and wallflower myself, I can’t say I particularly enjoy them when prepared the usual way (i.e. mashed). But sauteed with leek and garlic, they’re super tasty, and add a nice subtle sweetness to the dish.
I ended up loving the delicata squash. It’s sweet, smooth and buttery, and works perfectly in this olive oil based pasta. If you want the savoury flavours of Fall in the Okanagan (minus the meaty ones!) distilled into one dish, this – in my humble opinion – is it!
Tip: You can use a mandolin and/or vegetable peeler to slice your vegetables into thin ribbons. I used the mandolin for the zuccini and delicata squash, and the peeler for the carrots and turnips.
Recipe: Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Ribboned Fall Veggies and Parmesan
Makes 2 large servings or 4 smaller ones
- 125g whole wheat spaghetti
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium leek, finely sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 small carrot, peeled and ribboned
- 1/2 small turnip, peeled and ribboned
- 1/2 small zucchini, ribboned (I kept the skin on but you can remove it if that’s you’re preference)
- 1/4 small Delicata squash, peeled and ribboned (any other Winter squash would also work)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare spaghetti according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute leeks until tender in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add garlic and continue to saute until just golden brown. Gently fold in ribboned carrot, turnip, zucchini and squash and saute until tender but still firm. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add spaghetti to skillet and toss gently until combined with other ingredients. Fold in grated parmesan. Serve and eat!