I bet you’ve noticed, the sun has been slow and lazy these days. She sleeps later every morning, rising very apathetically, her luster so dim it hardly warms the back of your hand. She watches the clock all day, spends most of the time in the break room, and then cuts out early, skittering down the back stairs by 3 pm.
Night, on the other hand, is ready to party. She comes out early, wearing diamonds and velvet, a pendant moon. Yesterday was Night’s biggest party of the year – Winter solstice. It is very grand – with Sun in dispose, the planets all come out, almost bright by comparison to the neglectful Sun. The moon looks like a beacon.
But Night is cold, and the days get colder and bleaker. It’s hard not to get SAD – “seasonal affective disorder”. It’s easy to sit in the house and mope. I always try to remember, it’s not me, it’s not my friends, it’s not people in general – T’is the season!
This time of year, it is absolutely “the little things.” Little things can set a person off like a rocket – but little things can bring you right back down to Earth again. I was surprised a couple of weeks ago, just before that nasty cold spell at Thanksgiving, when my husband brought eight or nine nice green tomatoes in from the garden. The plants were burnt and melted from frost, there these bright green globules were hiding.
Years ago I learned to ripen green tomatoes by wrapping them in newspaper and stowing them in a box in the garage. It was a fun science experiment for home school, and wow – ripe tomatoes in Winter, get out!
It’s good to choose fruit without any blemishes or cracks. They are wrapped separately in paper – newspaper or butcher paper or brown paper bags are great – and I make sure not to squeeze them too tight into the box. I have kept them on a table in the garage but this year I kept them under the counter in our kitchen. As long as they’re not exposed to heat or light they should ripen very slowly without any spoilage.
No, they’re not vine ripened, but they’re sweet and juicy at a time of year you would not expect them, and that’s pretty nifty. First thing my husband did was go buy some bacon for BLT’s. We enjoy one in our salad almost every night.
I froze skads of fruit last Summer, how that paid off. We had our own peaches and grapes, and Safeway had fruits like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries on sale at various times. I bought amounts that made my husband wonder, but now I have them all stowed in our freezer, and every morning I get a nice smoothie out of it.
Today I made blueberry muffins for my son who drove nine hours through rain and snow to get home for Christmas.
Let me tell you, nothing chases the blues out of your house like family, but blueberry muffins are helpful as well. I use my favorite banana bread recipe and add the berries at the end.
Mash a couple of ripe bananas – bananas ripen faster in the freezer, by the way. Beat in an egg, add a cup of sugar, then 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter, melted. Sift a cup and a half all-purpose flour with a tsp each salt and soda, then add the banana mixture. Stir in the berries. Spoon that into some lined tins and bake them for 20 minutes at 350. I got 12 muffins, but I could have got 24 smaller ones, which would have baked quicker.
Baking sure makes the house warm, and smells good!
Something that’s good to remember today – we have officially made it to the beginning of the end of Winter, congratulations to us. Winter has started, and everything that has a beginning has an ending. La Primavera esta a vuelta a la esquina – Spring is right around the corner.