Winter Fattening

During spring and summer months, I burn off about fifteen to twenty pounds of excess fat working on various projects; hiking and trekking; felling standing dead trees then cutting, gathering, splitting and stacking five cords of firewood; and generally eating less during the warmest weeks, my body weight drops back down to high school levels of 165 to 170 lbs by the end of fall. It's lean weight too. The spare tire disappears and faint signs of a six pack begin appearing in the belly region. I've considered carrying on with exercise throughout winter to beef up and get the six pack fully defined for the first time in my life, but I never do follow through on that weak ambition. Old men of any dignity have no practical use for six pack abs.


So winter becomes a time of celebration in cooking and eating. After snows begin to fall and winds howl down canyon too fierce and frosty to be outside doing anything, I begin getting into cooking and eating a lot. Not only do I eat a lot, I eat a lot of foods which steadily pack on the weight again until I'm back up to 180 or 190 lbs by spring.


Since I'm heating the house with a wood stove, I've learned how to cook a lot of these meals on top of or inside it instead of burning propane in the kitchen range to cook them in more conventional manner. It's sometimes actually easier to cook this way. Babybacks laid out on a tinfoil-covered cookie sheet with a bit of airspace between the cookie sheet and stove top as shown here to slow cook while I sleep are one of the easiest dishes to make.


Wash and spice the rack, put it on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, then that covered by a second cookie sheet to trap heat rising from the stove, stoke up the fire box and off to bed for sleep enhanced by dreams springing from aroma of ribs slowly cooking to perfection. By the time I wake up, the main course is ready.


Cooking this way bothered me some at first. It seemed primitive and even demeaning to not use the more civilized propane kitchen range. What would family and friends think of such barbaric cooking technique? But as I have cooked and wolfed down meal after meal prepared this way, it became fun and surprisingly satisfying.


A bit of spice rub applied on top...

Cover it up then go sleep a while...

No worries about burning them as the fire slowly dies down while delightful scents of slow-roasting meat and spices waft about, triggering dreams of the next winter meal.


Lift the cover and apply a coat of sauce if desired, cover and stoke the morning fire, sipping a little coffee or tea, and Ta Da! There's the main course for lunch, perfectly cooked without ever being inside any oven or sizzling over flames in any grill.

Almost time for lunch!