Just popping in to say that Solstice was marvelous! We got 7.5 inches/19 cm of light, fluffy snow, which made shoveling it pretty quick and easy, for which I am glad because the air temperature was around -4F/-20C with a windchill approaching -30F/-34C. Somehow though I managed to work up a sweat.
But who cares about the snow and cold? This is all about my day of cooking!
First, the Solstice dishes. Some of you know that last Solstice we were without our beautiful matching bowls because of a kitchen shelf accident that sent them crashing down and breaking. We had not found any suitable replacements.
This past year, James did some internet searching and found that we could buy the exact bowls off ebay for a sum approaching extortion. I’d rather drink my soup from a mason jar than hand over the amount the seller was asking. So the search for something completely different was on.
I was beginning to feel a bit of panic in September when we still hadn’t found anything. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear? Our food co-op has a small housewares section that has cups and bowls and candles and dishtowels and lunch boxes and things like that. It is at the front of the store by the entrance right before we walk into the fresh produce area. So one shopping trip day, we walk in, I glance at the plates and mugs and things stacked on the table, and there they were! Two bowls completely different from our current dishes, but also, strangely matching. They have the same colors and they have stars in them and they were only about $8 each. So we bought them. Since we were shopping by bike, we carefully packed them in my pannier with bags of soft bulk foods like oatmeal and rye flour cushioning them. They made it home without a scratch. And now they are part of our holiday table setting.
But the food?
James and I are eat dessert first sorts of people. Having a big dinner in the evening and then following it up with dessert is just too much, so dessert happens in the afternoon when you can also enjoy some coffee with it. So after breakfast James cleaned up the kitchen and I took over.
First I put all the ingredients for the split pea soup in the crockpot. Instead of onion, the recipe called for a leek. I think leeks are my new favorite onion-y veg. You get the onion flavor without the onion tears. I am super sensitive to onion and always make James cut them up when I have to cook with them. Yes, yes, he says you can cut an onion in a certain way that will keep you from crying. He had me cut an onion like that one year and my eyes streamed just as much. But the leek? Not a tear. It was wonderful. Also, I must say, I love when you can put every single ingredient as-is in the crockpot without any pre-cooking or anything, turn the thing on, and walk away until you are ready to eat it.
Next I set to work on making biscuits. Making dough is magic. You mix and mix and think, this is never going to be one slightly sticky ball, there are too many crumbly bits and whole spoons of flour that just are not joining together. But you keep mixing, hoping and doubting, and then all of a sudden, magic! It’s one slightly sticky ball of dough.
The recipe stressed the need for being gentle, so gently I rolled out the dough and used a lid from a jar to cut my biscuit circles. There’s always leftover that has to be balled up and rolled out again and again until it is all used up and you have that one little bit left that’s too small to cut, so you just smash it down and try to neaten up the edges so it’s kind of round. Into the oven went the biscuits for about 25 minutes or until the tops were lightly browned. They came out perfect.
While the biscuits were cooking, I sliced up the tofu and made the miso glaze, which the tofu slices then got to marinade in for a few hours. Also, it turned out James didn’t have all the ingredients to make everything bagel spice for the breadsticks, so I had to pivot and decided to make lentil tortillas instead. I set the red lentils to soak for a few hours to get nice and soft. Then I got to go sit down and relax for a bit.
We had a light lunch, and long about 1:30, I went back into the kitchen and made the chocolate gravy for the biscuits. James made some coffee to go along with them. I sliced open the biscuits and James had strawberry jam in one, blueberry jam in another, and homemade elderberry jam in a third. I had strawberry jam, elderberry jam, and homemade sweat potato butter. Oh goodness, were they tasty! It was not a heavy or rich dessert. Pretty perfect.
After dessert it was time for me to figure out dinner. I needed to use the oven to bake the tofu, roast the delicata squash, the potatoes, and the cabbage and all of them needed different temperatures and different cooking times. I am not sure how I did it, but I managed to have everything done at the same time.
While the various vegetables were roasting, I made the lentil tortillas on the stovetop. The first one was a mess because I tried to flip it too soon. The second one was better. And after that I finally got the hang of it and the rest came out perfect.
And now we roll up to dinnertime. James put Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on, and I served the soup and tortillas. I hadn’t put any spice in the tortilla dough and I am glad I didn’t because the soup was so flavorful, the tortillas needed no extra spice. While we enjoyed the soup, the tofu is in the oven baking and timed to be done when we are finished, I hope. And it worked!
I cleared the soup dishes from the table and assembled the dinner plates. Added some extra miso glaze and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, poured out glasses of sparkling apple cider, and served.
Oh friends, it was delicious! A happy Winter Solstice feast.
The leftovers were good too. And now the kitchen is back in James’s hands until next Winter Solstice.
Since we do not celebrate Christmas, we are enjoying a quiet day today. But I know lots of you are out there celebrating, and I hope your feasts are delicious and spiced with lots of love. Happy Christmas!