I did not intend to take a break from posting. Life has been happening. I will talk more about that in another post. Because this is Winter Solstice, the one day a year I actually cook an entire meal!
I asked James several weeks ago if there was a flavor he was hankering for and he said Italian. While I briefly considered letting myself off easy by making spaghetti, heh, that would not do. So I combed through recipes and landed on ravioli e fagioli in our Cool Beans cookbook.
It turns out fagioli is basically bean soup. So I bought some cranberry beans like the recipe called for—I have never had these and they are so good!—I and used ingredients mostly from our winter csa share, which are not exactly what the recipe calls for but hey, dinner needs to be seasonally appropriate and as local as possible. So instead of red bell peppers I used cubed acorn squash. Instead of spinach I used kale. The garlic, carrots, and onion are all locally grown. I did buy a can of fire roasted tomatoes though.
The recipe called for store-bought ravioli, but we can’t have that. So I found a vegan recipe that uses chickpea flour and is filled with macadamia nut ricotta. But organic macadamia nuts are $35 a pound! So I made a much cheaper, and still tasty, ricotta from hazelnuts. I have never made pasta of any kind before, so I was rather nervous. But the ravioli making went great and only four of the many little raviolis fell apart while boiling. Yay me!
James was going to make a crusty peasant bread for us, but Sunday when he was making our weekly regular bread loaves, the oven failed to heat. He did learn how to make bread in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, which still worked just fine, thankfully. But one cannot make crusty bread on the stovetop. I thought, drat, we really should have made that solar oven over the summer. And then I looked outside at the thick gray clouds and the lightly falling snow. James called and scheduled a repair visit for today, the earliest anyone could come.
Without being able to make our own bread, we had to settle for some crusty (local) French bread from our food co-op. James got quite a lot so I suspect there will be French toast in the near future, a not bad consolation. I also planned for roasted garlic to spread on that crusty bread, and lucky for me, I learned from a co-worker last week how to make roasted garlic in the microwave. In hindsight, it seems like I had some kind of premonition, but I did not.
The repair person was supposed to be here today between 8 and noon. Around 11, we got a call that the repair window had been changed and was now until 7 p.m. They arrived around 4:30 and took about 45 minutes to install a new igniter. The oven works but it is too late to make the planned dessert, a self-saucing black forest chocolate pudding cake. I found this recipe two months ago and have been looking forward to making it for Solstice since then. I even have cherries in my freezer from my own garden. The cake will happen, it will just be a Christmas or New Year cake instead.
What to do for dessert? Microwave mug cakes! Not quite up to Solstice celebration standards, but we still got to have cake so that’s something. And we made them in our Solstice mugs with a little whipped peanut butter topping.
The one thing missing from our usual celebration was our beautiful sun and moon bowls that match the dinner and bread/dessert plates. I had completely forgotten that in spring one of the pins holding the cabinet shelf the Solstice dishes live on came out. The shelf tipped and the bowls fell out and broke. I wish I had remembered so I could have been on the lookout for some new bowls. But now I will be on the prowl. We won’t be able to find the same bowls, but I’m sure we will be able to find something. James was upset when the bowls broke, and I was sad too. We’ve had our sun and moon set of dishes for over 25 years. While they were special, what really matters is the holiday and the love and joy that goes into making a celebration.
The chickens did not get mug cakes or ravioli for their Solstice celebration, but they did get chopped up broccoli stalks and seeds from the acorn squash. They seemed pretty happy about that.
The days won’t be noticeably longer until the end of January, but just knowing daylight is gradually increasing is enough to get me through the coldest time of the year.
No matter whether or how you celebrate the Solstice, may your days be filled with light and your heart with joy!