A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.
As Winterfell characters often remark in Game of Thrones: "winter is coming".
- George R.R. Martin,
A Game of Thrones
So the winter comes
where we belong
I feel the cold
within my heart
I see the night
deep in your eyes
the winter comes at last...
- Covenant, Winter Comes
Winter is nearing and there is absolutely no doubt about that. You can feel it in your lungs with every breath you take, smell it in the air, taste its watery sapidity, hear its broisterous complaint and deadly silence, and witness it through your eyes focused on barren landscapes and white mountain tops. Everywhere there are signs of the impending bitter season and whether
you want it or not, it is only the beginning. So if you are wise enough, you'd better
get your duvet jackets, wolly hats, fleece scarves and leather gloves out of
the wardrobe or you'll end up frozen like an icicle...
Let us love the winter for it is the spring of geniuses.
Most people fear and loathe this gloomy and glacial period of the year, but not me. Wintry weather makes me gleeful and dissemilarly to a majority of the population, I never get a bad case of the blues once the trees are stark naked and the fall sunlight commences to fade. As a matter of fact, when November dies and painfully gives birth to December, glowing joy and powerful positiveness invades the very core of my soul. This is paradise!
- Pietro Aretino
December is an old friend; it reminds you of the past, together you share some laughs and tears, you feel warm-hearted though it’s freezing outside
- Mohamed Atef
After all I am a capricorn who was born on a frigid full moon Christmas morning (the 25th, precisely) and I have Helvetic, British and Russian blood running through my veins (and maybe a little Danish blood too). Consequently, I'm related to an ancient race of humans (the Teutons, Northmen and Slavs) reputed for having the capacity to brave the cold and being insensible to extreme meteorologic conditions - I guess this also explains my strong attraction to Northern Hemisphere countries and regions such as Great Britain, Scandinavia, Canada, Alaska, Siberia, etc... It's in my genes.
In the midst of winter,
I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
When gusts of freezing wind chill you to the bones, croaking crows break the ghastly quietude, mesmerizing starling murmurations - similar to evil clouds - hover over towns, snow heavily tumbles down like chalky rose petals and starts flirting with the plains, nature is frozen still, duck egg blue skies magically appear through the thick fog, darkness covers the countryside and a fiery sunsets illuminate the horizon, my brain becomes hyperactive, my energy is multiplied and exhilaration kicks in.
- Albert Camus, The Stranger
I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so
gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt;
and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes
- Lewis Carroll,
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Jack Frost is my drug, my muse, my guide, my lover and my friend. He knocks me off my feet, inspires me, stimulates my intellect, helps me focus on what's important in life, puts me in a happy and romantic mood, fills me with endless hope, feeds my hunger for adventure, uplifts my spirit and gets me going.
From December though March, I savor every passing moment and enjoy the soothing comfort of my snuggly apartment, relish rustic food that sticks to the ribs (only on weekends though, otherwise I'd end up looking like a Michellin woman!) and brings a grin of satisfaction to my face, appreciate cuddling up on the settee with a cup of steaming cappuccino or spicy chai and revel in spending some cosy afternoons with my friends or evenings with my dearest. It is the time for relaxing at home and engaging in cheering activities.
Another reason for me to get all flushed and excited is the delightful array of versatile vegetables, fabulous fruits and enticing produces which make their entry on market stalls once autumn has waved us farewell. There is so much on offer that I never know what to choose when I visit my favorite "marché aux légumes" in Rive. Between fennel, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, Belgian endives, leeks, pumpkins, celeriac, carrots, treviso (radicchio), parsnips, beets, apples, oranges, pears, mandarins, pomegranates, kumquats, grapefruits, litchis, kiwis, sausages, sauerkraut, vacherin Mont d'Or and chestnuts, my heart wavers...
At my table, variety rules and I rarely serve the same legume twice in the same week, hence my fridge is chock-a-block full with greens of many colors, shapes and sizes. Not only do I adore eating those harbaceus plants, but I also have loads of fun inventing new dishes with them.
While some of my experiments are only worth being metioned on my Facebook page (where I speak about my daily meals), some of the recipes I put together are just too exquisite not to be fully shared on my blog. It is the case with one of my latest creations to date: a festive "Farro Salad With Roasted Pumpkin, Dried Cranberries And Ras-El-Hanout Vinaigrette" inspired by my fondness for Middle Eastern, North-African and Mediterranean cuisine.
This unique, luscious, sweet and savory, hearty, spicy and colorful main course is a real showstopper. Indeed, nothing captures the attention more than a glorious bouquet of flavors as well as a harmonious combination of aromas and textures - the roasted and soft pumpkin, nutty and crunchy farro, sour and chewy cranberries, fragrant dill, heady mustard, deeply toasted sesame seeds, pungent citrus zest, creamy tahini and exotic ras-el-hanout spice come together just marvelously.
A hors-d'oeuvre which is perfect for any occasion - be it lunch, supper, a picnic, your family's Yuletide banquet or New Year's Eve Party - and will please both vegetarians and carnivores alike - it can be served per se or as accompaniment to meat, fish, cheese, tofu or seitan.
Give it a try, you'll be conquered!
Farro Salad With Pumpkin, Dried Cranberries And Ras-El-Hanout
Recipe by Rosa Mayland, December 2013.
Ingredients For The Salad:
550g Pumpkin, roasted (see recipe) and cut into 1cm/0.39inch cubes
250g Raw farro, cooked (see recipe)
1 Onion (small), chopped finely
The zest of 1 organic lemon
3 Tbs Sesame seeds, toasted
4 Tbs dried cranberries
Fresh dill, chopped, to taste
Ingredients For The Vinaigrette:
1 Clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbs Tahini paste
1 Tsp Semi-strong mustard
1 Tsp Ras-El-Hanout
6 Tbs Olive oil
3 Tbs Lemon juice
1 Tbs Apple vinegar
Fine sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the Vinaigrette.
2. In a big salad bowl, put all the ingredients for the salad and add the vinaigrette.
3. Delicately combine.
4. Plate the salad and sprinkle with extra dill.
Choose a type of pumpkin that can be roasted (potimarron, butternut squash, blue Hokkaido, sugar pie, red kuri, tan cheese, etc...).
Both the farro and pumpkin can be used either warm or at room temperature.
Serve as main course alone or accompanied with fish, meat, pan-fried tofu, seitan steaks or cheese and pair with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
Salade De Petit Épautre À La Courge, Aux Canneberges Séchées Et Au Ras-El-Hanout
Recette par Rosa Mayland, Décembre 2013.
Pour 2 personnes.
Ingrédients Pour La Salade:
550g de Courge, rôtie au four (voir recette) et coupée en dés de 1cm
250g de Petit épautre (cru), cuit (voir recette)
1 Oignon (petit), haché finement
Le zeste d'un citron bio
3 CS de Graines de sésame, torréfiées
4 CS de Canneberges séchées
Aneth fraîche, hachée, selon goût
Ingrédients Pour La Vinaigrette:
1 Gousse d'ail, écrasée
2 CS de Tahini
1 CC de Moutarde mi-forte
1 CC de Ras -El- Hanout
6 CS d'Huile d'olive
3 CS de Jus de citron
1 CS de Vinaigre de pomme
Fleur de sel, selon goût
Poivre noir, fraîchement moulu, selon goût
1 . Dans un bol moyen, mélanger ensemble tous les ingrédients pour la vinaigrette .
2 . Dans un grand saladier, mettre tous les ingrédients pour la salade et ajouter la vinaigrette.
3 . Mélanger délicatement.
4 . Garnir les assiettes avec la salade et saupoudrer avec un peu d'aneth.
Choisissez une courge qui peut être rôtie (potimarron, butternut, courge musquée, etc...).
Le petit épeautre et la courge peuvent être utilisés légèrement chauds ou à température ambiante.
Suggestion d'accompagnement :
Servir comme plat principal seul ou accompagné de poisson, de viande, de tofu poêlé, de steaks de seitan ou de fromage. Ce plat se marie bien avec un Chardonnay, Pinot Noir , Riesling, Pinot Grigio ou Sauvignon Blanc.