During the recent cold and snowy weather snap, I’ve found myself craving a different kind of food.  For weeks, I’d eaten more salads and fruit than I could fathom.  Now, I wanted something that filled me up and warmed me from the inside out.  Heartier food.  Good bye to salads, hello to something hot and steamy.

One of the first dishes I ever learned to cook from my mother was chili.  I took the basics she taught me — ground beef, beans, tomatoes — and made it my own over the years.  I experimented with different types of beans, chopping up peppers, and throwing in a few spices to up the hotness factor.  To this day, when it’s the dead of winter, and bitter cold out here, nothing seems to satisfy more than cooking up a batch of chili, complete with cheese and onions.

Somehow when the body is struggling to stay warm, eating a few bites of lettuce or a cold sandwich just doesn’t cut it.  There’s that old expression of eating food “that sticks to your ribs.”  That’s just what I crave as the temperatures start to drop.  Perhaps that’s another reason why I always seem to pack on an extra five pounds or so each winter.

Crock pots are old-fashioned, but are such a blessing when concocting your favorite soup or stew.  Chop everything up, throw it in the crock pot along with some broth, and simmer it all day.  What could be better than walking in the door at the end of the work day to find a pot of home-made soup tender and flavorful?

In addition to home-made soup and chili, I love a yummy stew.  I’m used to making the standard beef stew with carrots and potatoes, but I got to experience something very unique a few years ago.  While I was working at Capitol Reef, my Park Service neighbors had a huge Halloween party.  Several of them had just came back from a hunting trip and had used the meat to make a huge pot of stew.

The meat was dark and juicy, and along with the onions and peppers, I had never tasted something so flavorful.  “What kind of meat did you use for this?” I asked.

“It’s elk meat.  Do you like it?”

Part of me felt sad, as I so admired these beautiful, graceful animals.  But at the same time, I could not deny what my taste buds were telling me — it tasted incredible.

I’m not a hunter, so we don’t have elk stew as a regular thing at our house.  But in celebration of cold temperatures and snow, here’s one of my favorite cold-weather recipes.  Hopefully, you’re enjoying a lot of warm, hot food these days as well.  Bon appetit!

Leslie’s Corn Chowder

1 large onion

2 cans chicken broth

1 package frozen corn

2 cups whole milk

1 red bell pepper

1 jalapeno pepper

1/2 pound potatoes, diced

Sautee onion in olive oil.  Add chicken broth and corn.  Take 1/2 of mixture and put in blender, making puree.  Return to sauce pot, adding in milk red papper, jalapeno pepper, potatoes.  Bring to boiling, then simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.