Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow for the Solstice: Bon Hiver

It snowed last night for the first time this year here in Gloucester. Since last night the Winter Solstice occurred, making this the first official day of winter, that seemed appropriate. It is beautiful outside right now though I am glad I do not need to go out. I especially love that I work at home on mornings like this. The weatherman doubts that it will last. I am working today and then knocking off early to make some fruitcakes. I know, I know, I should have done that weeks ago but I still have time.

Last night I made another of my crockpot risottos and it was absolutely delicious. I got the idea from a rice dish Helene at My Tartelette made yesterday. My Tartelette is one of my favorite food blogs and her photography is gorgeous. This is my adaptation:

Butternut Squash & Coconut Risotto
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet and add ¾ c. arborio rice. Stir over medium heat until rice is coated and becoming opaque. Place in crockpot with:
1 cup chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
2 cups chopped butternut squash
1 small onion chopped fine
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ tsp. thyme
juice of 1 lime

Turn to High and cook for 2 hours. Check to see if more liquid is needed. Stir and cook for another hour. Serve with a little grated lime peel on top.

This is so delicious I'm glad there is some left over for lunch.

I still struggle with Christmas, I guess I always will, but I do love the solstice – I found my CD of Windham Hill's Winter Solstice and have been playing it non-stop. Last night I spent some time with an elderly neighbor who is having a terrible time with the holidays. She said she wished she could just go to sleep and wake up after New Years. Yesterday I also talked to a client who said nearly the same thing. It is oddly comforting to know others go through the same thing and I know why it is, we have so many ideas about what Christmas should be and it never is – never was, really, other than children.

So I keep writing and reading and cooking and knitting and visiting with people who need someone they can feel comfortable expressing their frustration too. In a way I suppose that is a virtue, to be a comfort to those who struggle with this season, too.

It is a shame in many ways because the sacred side of this holiday is dear to me and I cherish that part of it. But the parties and gifts and relentless plans wear me down. Oh well. Today thee is snow and fruitcakes in need of making and good work to be done so those are very good things. I actually love winter and look forward to the months of quiet and stillness and all that can be accomplished in them. 

Last night I started reading Jane Smiley's Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. That is a winter's worth of reading right there. I'm only one chapter in to it but I'm eager for more. I'm going to ty to make time for reading more this winter, to shut off the computer at an earlier hour and put down the knitting and make a cup of hot spiced tea and just sink into a book. My third novel is progressing and I've started work on some knitting design patterns so I have plenty to do.

Bon Hiver, everyone. Thanks for reading.

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