As we ready ourselves to segue to the lighter fare we enjoy in the spring, I wanted to share one more rib-sticking meal to stave off these last chilly, muddy days of March.

As I congratulated myself for getting through my 36th Maine winter, I had a craving for this satisfying meal of kielbasa and vegetables. Homemade “fast food” at its finest, this supper is delicious accompanied by a warm chewy loaf of rye bread from the winter farmers market. A meal that’s cheap, easy to prepare, and substantial, it has the added convenience of being made with ingredients you may very well already have in your cupboard and fridge.

For the vegetable side dish, boil up and mash together a couple large potatoes, a turnip, and a few carrots ahead of time and store in the fridge to be warmed later in the microwave. Do not skip the herbed brown butter. This small touch makes it.

(You may want to double the recipe because the leftover mash makes delicious pancakes – just stir an egg or two into the mash, form into patties, and fry them in melted butter in a hot skillet. Eat them for breakfast topped with poached or over-easy eggs.)

This hearty meal will definitely make you feel well-fed, but after the kitchen is cleaned up, the laundry is folded, and the lunches for tomorrow are packed, you may want a smackerel of something sweet to go with that nightly cup of chamomile tea. These Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies are vegan, if you care about such things, but feel free to experiment by making them with butter if you prefer.

And for heaven’s sake, be sure to tuck some of these tidbits into the lunch boxes.

Kielbasa with Cabbage and Apple

2 (12-oz.) kielbasa links, cut into 1-inch rounds

1 head cabbage, shredded

1 onion, sliced

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup apple cider

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced thin

1 tbsp. caraway seeds

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place olive oil in wok and heat over medium-high. Add kielbasa and cook 5 minutes. Add cabbage and onion and sauté until kielbasa is browned and vegetables are beginning to wilt, stirring occasionally. Add cider, apple slices, and caraway seeds. Cover and continue to cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender-crisp and cider is reduced, giving an occasional stir, about 10 minutes. Yield: 6-8 servings

Root Vegetable Mash

1 lb. carrots

1 lb. potatoes

1 lb. turnip

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 tbsp. butter, divided

2-3 tbsps. cream

1 tsp. thyme

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with salted water. Peel and cut vegetables into 2-inch pieces and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain off most of the liquid and save for your next batch of soup!

Heat cream and 2 tbsp. butter together until butter is melted. Stir into vegetables along with seasonings. Mash until combined. Keep warm.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, garlic and thyme. Cook until the butter starts to brown, about 3 minutes.

Spoon the herb butter over the vegetable mash at table. Yield: 6 servings

Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies

1 cup raspberry preserves

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup canola oil

2 tsps. vanilla

2 tsps. almond extract

1 cup plus 4 tbsp. cocoa powder

3 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine preserves, sugar, oil, vanilla, and almond extract.

In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients one-third at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon after each addition, or just use your hands. The dough should be soft and pliable.

Form the dough into walnut-size balls then flatten them slightly with a fork or the floured bottom of a water glass, depending on the look you prefer. Place about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a baking rack. Yield: 4 dozen

Kielbasa with Cabbage and Apple is a quick and easy main dish for a chilly March evening.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected].

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