Sunday, December 9, 2012

December Veggies and Recipes

Bright sunset behind conifers
Wintery Sunset

Darkest Days then Returning Light

Every year at this time I am amazed by the shortness of the days and the position of the sun in the sky. As I write, the sun is so low that I see its disk reflected in my laptop screen from the window behind me. Shortly it will be behind the trees, and then behind the hill to the west. In the deep velvety darkness of December’s nights, it seems natural to look for the light. Sharing festive dinners with friends and family, complimenting neighbors on their cheery lights and decorations, taking the time to connect with a loved one who you don’t often see, giving food and toys to those in need, attending community gatherings: these are the most precious holiday gifts, the ones that sustain our inner light. Let’s remember to take the time to enjoy and appreciate one another during this busy month, and share a little seasonal food and drink with each other.

Green Shrub with Red Berries
Seasonal Bird Food
As we transition into winter, many local fields are resting and rejuvenating with cover crops, which boost their nitrogen levels. On the central CA coast, we’re still harvesting root crops: carrots, beets, potatoes, and radishes. Many varieties of winter squash are available, as well as the last of the pumpkins and cranberries. Nutrient-rich brassicas like broccoli, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower are thriving. Lettuce adds a bright raw veggie note to our menus. Even more exciting is the start of citrus season. Oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes are refreshing and inexpensive, and can be used in salads and sauces as well as desserts. And it’s prime time for persimmons, Fuyu (hard) and Hachiya (squishy). Use them for snacks, salads, baking, jams, and drying. Most of my garden herbs look sketchy (or dead), but rosemary, parsley, and winter savory are hanging in there.

In the non-veggie world we have the beginning of Dungeness crab season. They’re popular for Christmas and New Years, so you’ll find the plumpest ones earlier, like now!

Wintry white skies with Towering Pink Dahlias
Our Giant Dahlias Finally Blooming
Wishing you a holiday season of good cheer. It’s true that some of us (including myself) have experienced big bumps in the road of life this year, and that not all of us are able to connect with family in the way that we want at this time of year. Let’s enjoy the blessings that we do have, share food and goodwill with each other, and focus on the small joys of the season. May the light be strong within you during the year’s darkest days.

December Fruits and Veggies

Closeup of Giant Dahlia with Pink Sky Behind
Giant Dahlia at Sunset
Wild Mushrooms
Favorite and New December Recipes

Creek Flowing over Waterfall
Winter Rains Make our Creek Happy
Cornish Hens with Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Vegetarian Spinach Salad (with hothouse cherry tomatoes)
Curried Cauliflower (recipe by Mira at Grains & More)
Date Nut Bread (from 19th century recipe!)
Green Tomato Chutney

Closeup of Red Begonia with Red and Gold Leaves
Begonia Enjoying Mild December Weather

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