Yes, the days are definitely getting longer, but they are also a whole lot colder. Nighttime hits hard. We’ve been doing a lot of hunkering down, staying home, and cooking. No complaints from me. This is one of the great winter activities. But I have been having trouble almost every night around 7 p.m. when I get this overwhelming craving, like a force sweeping over me, to eat something sweet. Well, not just anything sweet. Chocolate. It must be chocolate.
I often forget about all the things there are to love about winter. Once the holidays wind down and life resumes its normal beat, I generally dread the long, slow months ahead. But there’s the catch. Long, slow months. That’s the beauty of winter — we get to slow down and focus inward. Inside the house, inside our minds (or what’s left of them after the holiday parties and all that eating and cooking and sleeping). There’s no garden to tend, no lawn to mow.
It’s that time of year. The days are miserably short. I feel like eating dinner at about 5 o'clock and by 9 p.m. I’m ready to crawl into a dark hole (otherwise known as my bed). I don’t feel depressed (I know it sounds otherwise, but really, honestly, truly Doctor, I’m fine); it’s just that when the day gets cut short like this so does my energy. It’s no wonder that people all over the world embrace the holidays the way they do.
The long, heavy Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone and we can all let out a collected sigh of relief. I don’t know about you, but all that rich food makes me awfully sleepy. It was like we were in a cream- and butter-induced coma for three days.
Last night I cleared out the refrigerator and froze the leftover turkey, made a turkey pot pie (using the leftover mashed potatoes as a “crust”), and took the turkey carcass (throwing the scraps to my beloved dog) and started a soup.
There’s something to be said for following the same rituals year after year. Turkey signals Thanksgiving, but in our house so does cranberry sauce (homemade with pineapple, pecans, and fresh ginger, as well as the canned variety), oyster and bread stuffing, mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, not to mention creamed spinach and pureed squash. Pecan pie, cranberry cheesecake, pumpkin pie. Ah, yes, there is real safety in tradition, but the rebel in me is screaming this year.
It’s early November and I have finally gotten around to planting garlic for next year. It’s one of those gorgeous days, leaves blowing, the few final ones that are not piled on the lawn clinging
precariously to the trees. The sun is unusually warm for this time of year and I huddle under the open sky trying to soak up the last meaningful rays.
It’s pouring rain, spitting a kind of wet, slushy mush. But when friends down the street have their annual “Come Make Apple Cider Party,” people show up no matter what the weather. There’s something about the fall and apples and pressing cider that makes New Englanders happy. Maybe it’s that we know, deep inside, that this is the last harvest — the final bit of local sweetness before the frost takes over and freezes the earth. Or maybe it’s just that apples and apple cider are so incredibly delicious.
Portland's Twenty Mile Meal If you want to experience what a twenty mile meal can taste like, Cultivating Community, a Portland organization that works to fight hunger and "empower youth and community" is having a unique event on Sunday, October 4. Dubbed as "Southern Maine's most mouth-water-food-with-a-conscience event" the dinner (featuring foods all grown within twenty miles of Portland) will be cooked by Portland area culinary superstars. To purchase tickets, go to Cutivating Community's Web site and click on the 20 Miles Meal Link.
The thing about not having access to something all the time is that it becomes precious — sometimes overly precious. Think about it. Long distance love. An amazing meal you had in a far away country. A child off at college.
The French know how to work magic with fresh vegetables. I’ll never forget sitting in a small café in a tiny seaside village on the coast of southern France and being served ratatouille as a main course. To say that it was a “stew” of eggplant, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, and fragrant olive oil misses the point entirely. It was something altogether new.