This past week my “baby” Cloud had his first “senior” exam. His sister Skye goes on Monday. This came as a sharp reminder of time’s passage. Another year is winding down and we have another winter to get through. I still have not located the snow shovel in the storage, although I did get the winter drapes. I found the tub with some of my sweaters but not the one with my gloves and scarves. The fireplace needs servicing, which of course is on me rather than the cheapskate landlord. I don’t mind paying for cleaning, after all, I am the one making it dirty, but it needs some repairs. The bricks at the back of the fireplace need repointing, among other thing and it would be dangerous to use it until this is done, as the heat would transmit through to the back wall in the “so-called” dining room.
Tuesday was a classic example of those winter days when it’s hard to get up any ambition. A sure sign of the state of things was that by late morning Skye was curled into a ball with her mother Milk on the futon next to me. Dolly was on the other side. Simba and Cloud were curled up at the foot of it, and Mi Sun was curled up in her chosen hidewaway after a final double-checking of the breakfast bowls for overlooked “crunchies”. Charli was in her doorless carrier, deep in the folds of an old wool cloak a friend shrank in the wash and was going to chuck out. What a waste! I rescued it for the perfect cat cuddle blanket. It was a day for napping in warm places. It was grey and cold and windy outside. Although most of the snow of the other day has melted off it clings tenaciously in certain spots out of reach of the sun.
For me it was a day for doing introspective, gloomy day things like writing and starting to plan for the coming year. In a review of things it seemed as though about the time my late aunt began her downhill slide almost everything else followed suite, from keeping up with email and paperwork, to working on my schoolwork and business prospects. I do not intend a repeat in the coming year. I did do some holiday things to offset the gloom. I wrapped a package to mail to my old roommate YJ and the gift baskets for my auto shop and vet’s office.
While I was at it I ordered my Swedish style anchovies (actually sprats) for my Jansson’s Frestelse (temptation) so I would have them before Christmas. Last year in desperation I used real anchovies but it was not the same. Mind you, I like anchovies, on pizza and sandwiches and other ways, but they are not right for this dish, really. The potatoes, onions and cream are easily obtained but not so the proper fish. I’m looking foraward to doing it right this year.
It was also a good day for slow cooking things. I finished transferring a batch of mussel and leek soup to freezer containers and started a new soup in the large kettle using bone broth I had made earlier as a base. Frozen leftover carrots, some onion and herbs went in next. I’ll keep poking in the freezer to see what I can come up with. It will be like a stone soup. I like to try and use up leftovers in soup and I like to have soup ready to heat up. I often find in this kind of weather if I get cold I can’t seem to warm up again and soup will often do the trick.
I started my holiday version of cranberry sauce. I rarely use a written recipe but it’s quite simple. Into a slow cooker go two bags of fresh whole cranberries; about a dozen mandarins, clementines or tangerines, peeled and sectioned; two cups each water and orange juice; two sticks of cinnamon, broken up and a large finger of fresh ginger, cut in thin slices. You want the lot to be covered by liquid so you can add more of either water or juice as it cooks,but the juice offsets the sour cranberries better. I add whole cloves too, but I’m willing to pick them out later, otherwise you can add any ground spices you like near the end. hat goes for the cinnamon and ginger as well, if all you have is the ground type.
The weather continued to deteriorate as the day went on. A few small flashes of sunlight could not offset the rising wind in the late afternoon. By late evening even the noise of the furnace intake vent (which pretty much sounds like a 747 taking off) could not drown out the sound of high winds and the whistling as they tried to insinuate themselves through the countless cracks around the doors and windows. Winter is well and truly here.