A moveable feast

You know how you have plans, and then something happens…

celebrating the prospect of spring… the specific day probably isn’t important

In general we have a special celebration on the day of the winter solstice. We celebrate the turning of the seasons, the shortest day and the prospect of light and abundance to come. We have a special meal – usually made using local produce. This year I ordered some locally produced, grass-fed beef (quite a rare meat for us to eat) and was supposed to be collecting in on Thursday (the solstice itself) with the aim of cooking some to eat in the evening. However, a message yesterday asked if we could collect it on Friday instead… I hadn’t explained its date-specific use to the producer. So, that aspect of our celebration has been postponed.

In addition, yesterday I suddenly got a pile of requests for editing work – including one piece to be done by Friday. Everyone is so focussed on Christmas, that there is little understanding that some people might take time off work at any other time… especially in the week before 25 December. However, I am pragmatic and work is work, so I didn’t say no. A flurry of editing this morning has allowed me to make good progress and so I think I will be able to find time for solstice-related activities on Thursday, albeit without the beef.


A past 25 December picnic

So, the new plan is either to go out on Thursday or for me to raid the freezer and rack my brains for some suitably celebratory dish that I can make from what’s in there… possibly plaice or mackerel. Then we’ll have our local beef with Yorkshire puddings on Sunday, and that will leave some lovely roast beef for sandwiches to eat during our traditional (indoor) picnic on 25 December. Life is all about being flexible…

The turning of the year

Today is the winter solstice. At 23:03 GMT the North Pole will be tilted the furthest away from the sun as it is during the whole year. This means that today is the shortest day – hurrah! After this, the days start to lengthen and my thoughts turn towards the coming spring. For me, this is the most notable day in the winter and one that Mr Snail and I choose to celebrate.

This year, however, we had to bring our celebration forward a little because today, the actual day of the solstice, he’s heading back to England to work. We celebrate with food… enjoying some of the past year’s harvest from the garden and from some of our fantastic local producers.

The garden produce was represented by a huge Boston squash. In fact we only extracted a single slice from it… the rest will be roasted in chunks tomorrow and then frozen for later consumption, apart from one piece which we will share with my mum on Christmas day.

Carving the squash

Carving the squash

Other than that we had locally grown parsnips, potatoes and cauliflower, a cheese sauce, made with Welsh organic milk and Hafod cheese, and a piece of smoked gammon produced by From The Hedge Rose (local and ethically reared).

Local food

Local food

For dessert I was going to make Pond Pudding, using a recipe that Anne Phillips kindly gave me (see the comments in this post), but I thought it might be a bit filling after such a substantial meal. Fortuitously, I got a phone call in the morning from my neighbours to say that they had some left over homemade chocolate mousse in the fridge and to come over and get it! We are keeping an eye on their house for a little while as they are visiting relatives and they were about to leave, so the mousse was going spare and was ours for the taking. It seemed completely in the spirit of the meal to have that for dessert.

We even illuminated our celebration with beeswax candles from the local honey farm:

Solstice light

Solstice light

Whilst we ate and chatted, Max and Sam made themselves comfortable under the table, in the hope that food would arrive from above (it didn’t).

Crashed out... not through lake of food - they ate first

Crashed out… not through lack of food – they ate first

So that was how our year turned… I do hope any celebrations you had were as enjoyable.


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