Yesterday was the winter solstice, shortest day, longest night of the year. I see today as the real new years day, from here on out, the days will get longer until June 21 and then they’ll get shorter again until this time next year. In my opinion, Solstice should be the true New Year's eve.
I’ve made a point the last few years to recognize the period from the Solstice, the solar new year till Jan. 1, the calendar New Year, as my 11 to 12 days of Christmas, depending on whether the solstice falls on the 21st or 22nd. Astronomically the solstice fell this year at 1 AM on the 22nd, but I checked and discovered that both the 21st and the 22nd had 9 hours and 43 minutes of daylight and 14 hours and 17 minutes of dark, so I guess there were really two longest nights and shortest days this year.
I like to take time now to crawl inside myself a bit, take stock of the year past and think about the one to come. Allow myself the culinary pleasures of the season, of which there are many and I want to indulge. Also I want to pamper myself physically, yesterday I went swimming and took a steam at the Y, today I went to yoga and took a walk with my Honey Pie at sunset, watching the almost full moon rise.
It was great to get back home after traveling over 2000 miles in 12 days and sleeping in 5 different beds. I’ve been sleeping like a bear since I got back, in the sack by 10 or 11 p.m. and then at 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. we force ourselves up and out.
I loved getting back to our garden, I contend it is our best autumn garden ever, not sure if that’s due to the weather or simply to the fact that I’ve been around to tend to it and take advantage of the bounty. I roam the paths thinking about all the various dishes I could fix with dill or cilantro, green onions, spinach, turnips or cabbage. On Friday we cooked turnips with bacon, onions, cabbage, tomato, a few raisins, apples and turnip greens. Not a dish for sissy’s, the turnip flavor was strong from the greens while the apples, turnips and cabbage were super sweet. I always say we grow the sweetest veggies in Orange County, NC and I stand by it.
Tomorrow I am planning a dish of roasted veggies to include small turnips, golden beets, baby fennel , and potatoes to accompany a roast leg of lamb for our Christmas eve dinner, just us two. I’m going to start a batch of Grandmothers rolls and bake a few for the eve and more for the day when we will go to brother C’s and share a meal with family. I’m also planning a lemon chess pie, an old family favorite and special request of the bro.
I bought a pound of fresh salmon yesterday and started a batch of gravlaax, home cured fish made with tons of fresh dill, salt, sugar and pepper. A favorite winter time treat for us. Yesterday I baked a batch of rock cookies, another family favorite flavored with coffee, rosewater, vanilla, mace, allspice and nutmeg and chock full of nuts and raisins. They are dangerous to have around, I give a few to anyone that comes by.
We don't have a tree, though we were eyeing potential candidates on our walk this evening, neither of us really wants to mess with it. I will probably gather some greenery from the woods tomorrow to make a wintery centerpiece. We still have lights in trees in the yard from last year so we can always light those up for a little more cheer.