21 December 2010

first day of winter

Outside the wind is howling. It almost sounds like voices are trying to creep in through the cracks around the windows - I hear a low wheeze that sounds like a person speaking through an exhale. It's nothing like the coyotes I'm used to hearing, or the frogs that have been serenading me to sleep for the last few nights, since the rains have come. Nevermind. We need the water desperately. On the news, they are saying that most of the reservoirs in the county at at 50% capacity, although one in Santa Margarita is at 105%! It's the worst storm since 2003, people are saying. 2003 wasn't so long ago, but I don't remember any storm then. Our road is closed and I wonder what it would be like if there was a serious mudslide and we were stuck up here for days - I wouldn't mind much, I don't think. We have enough dry goods and root fruits in the pantry, a freezer full of meat, and veggies in the crisper drawers to last for days. As a child, I always wished for the power to go out during storms so we would have to do our reading by candlelight. We lit candles anyway. We still do.

Getting into the "spirit" of the season, I made gluten-free Christmas cookies with this recipe. They turned out nicely, but I found them to be a bit lacking in flavor. They don't have much sugar and aren't so sweet - which is fine by me - but I think what they really need is more butter. (I've been reading and watching a lot of Julia Child's stuff these last few days.) I don't have much experience with gluten-free cookies, and certainly not gluten-free sugar cookies, so I don't know - maybe the flavor (or lack thereof) has to do with the gluten-free flour I'm using. Fortunately, I have all the time in the world to experiment.

 parchment paper keeps things from getting too sticky

out of the oven

a delightful mess

makes for fun treats

Winter is the season of turning inward, of letting initiative foment and ideas take shape, and baking in a daze allowed me fine time for introspection and letting go of some of the ideas that I've been hanging onto all year. (I don't need to be efficient. I don't need to just get it done. I don't need to... where is that birdsong coming from?) Plunging my hands into the stainless steel bowl of dough, I was able to stop thinking and just feel my feelings; stirring my brown sugar icing, I was swept up in the sweet scent of vanilla and sugar. I keep asking myself, In this moment, am I content? and I think, every time I can say yes, that I am happy.

And on that note, happy solstice!

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