Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Happy New Year !

Sound odd ? Not really. Today is The Winter Solstice and the beginning of the Solar Year. In our household it is one of the Winter Holidays, and it is usually celebrated on the eve of the event with decorations and a special meal amongst other things.

 Food is a part of most celebrations in some way. It is universal  in language. The participants may not understand the event celebrated in full , but they know when something smells and tastes good ! We had a meal with things that were in some way representative of the sun , the returning light  and I will share the pictures and recipes. It's going to be a big cooking week for me here with Solstice, Christmas Eve and Christmas  ! Good thing is I can make it nourishing !

Let's start with Soaked Sun Bread

Soaked Sun Bread

2 – 2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 stick butter, melted
3 tablespoons buttermilk

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons sugar( I used Splenda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon (optional)
 Mix yeast and milk. Let stand until foamy. Stir in eggs, sugar, 2 cups flour, butter, salt and lemon. Mix well, adding flour as necessary to form a dough.Knead on a floured surface for 8 – 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.Place dough in greased bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. Punch down dough, knead gently, and divide into two portions. With one portion, form a round flat ball to make the sun’s face. Use a knife to carve eyes and a mouth. Use a bit of dough from the second half to form a nose and eyes and mouth
Divide the rest of the second half into six portions.Shape into a rope, cut rope into smaller sections to form spirals and place around the edge of the face.
Cover the sun and allow to rise again in a warm place for about an hour.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the sun bread for about twenty minutes or until lightly brown. Cool slightly before slicing.( we don't slice him, but kind of rip off pieces !)

Then bring on dinner ! We had  apple Maple glazed ham, spiced red cabbage ( red ball like the new born sun) sweet potatoes with maple butter ( orange like the sun and it goes well with ham) and orange cranberry sauce ( again, orange and red like the sun at different times of the day). All seasoned with herbs and spices that are "firey", like the sun itself.

Crockpot Rotkohl (German Red Cabbage)
1 medium/large red cabbage, shredded
1 med sweet onion, diced
2 med (or 1 large) apple, granny smith or other sour kind, peeled, cored and diced
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp honey
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp mulling spice, in a cheesecloth bag or tea steeper
1 c. water
1 tbsp butter
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 lb bacon, diced (optional)

   1. If using bacon, cook until crispy and drain on a paper towel. Then use the bacon grease to saute the onion.
   2. If not using bacon, saute the onion in the butter until translucent.
   3. Add rest of ingredients into crockpot, set on low for 6 hours.
   4. If you’re going to use a stock pot or dutch oven for this, the cooking time would be between 1 and 2 hours, depending on amount you make.
   5. Remove spice bag before serving. This seems self-explanatory and yet…maybe it’s just me.

Smoked Ham with Maple Apple Glaze
3 to 4 pound, semi-boneless cold smoked ham
1 to 2 large tart baking apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325º F.

Rinse the ham well with cold water and pat dry.  Place in a baking dish or roasting pan large enough to comfortably hold the ham, and cover tightly with foil.Bake the ham until completely heated through, about 20 minutes per pound.  About 10 minutes before the ham is done, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until it begins to foam.  Saute the apples in the butter until tender and golden, about 5 minutes, and add the maple syrup.  Increase the heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the syrup begins to thicken.  Remove from the heat and set aside.Remove the ham from the oven and increase the temperature to 350º F.  Carefully pour the juices from the ham into the skillet with the apple/maple syrup mixture and stir to combine.  Spoon the glaze back over the ham and return to the oven.  Bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 to 20 minutes to glaze the ham, basting it every 5 minutes.Remove the ham to a cutting board and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes before carving; reserve the glaze from the pan.  Carve, spoon the glaze over the slices and serve.

 Cranberry-Orange Sauce

    12 oz fresh or frozen Cranberries
    1 lg. organic Navel Orange
    1/2 Cup  Sugar or Sucanat ( I used Splenda)
    1 tsp. ground Cinnamon
    1/8 tsp. ground Cloves

    Rinse cranberries, and discard any spoiled ones. Finely grate or zest the orange peel. Cut orange into quarters, and add to a blender, along with the orange zest. Pour in enough water to make 1 cup, and blend until roughly chopped. (You don’t want a smooth puree; keep it “pulpy.”)
 Pour juice into a saucepan, along with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour in cranberries, and return to a boil. Stir over medium heat for 8-10 min. Be careful!! Cranberries start popping & will splatter!! (When not stirring, you can partially cover the pot with a lid, to allow steam to escape, but keep some of the splatter inside.)

    When most of the cranberries have popped, and the liquid has started to thicken, remove from heat. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Pour into jars to store or into a serving dish. Refrigerate or freeze if not serving immediately.

An evening of fun and games took place, and then it was time for desert- gingerbread and home made eggnog

Soaked Flour Gingerbread

Combine and soak overnight
1 Cup Buttermilk or Kefir
2 ½ C Freshly Ground Spelt or White Wheat Flour
Next day  add
¼ lb Butter or Coconut Oil
¾ C Sucanat ( I used Splenda)
2 Eggs
¾ C Molasses
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Powdered Ginger
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch Cloves

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9 x 9 baking dish.   Bake in an oven preheated to 350 ° F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake’s center comes out clean

Egg Nog

    6 beaten egg yolks
    2 1/4 cups whole milk
    1/3 cup  sugar ( I used Splenda)
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 cup whipping cream
    2 Tbsp  sugar
    Ground nutmeg (optional)

 1) In a medium pot, mix the egg yolks, milk and the 1/3 cup sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture just coats a metal spoon . Remove from heat. Place pot in a sink or bowl of ice water and stir for 2 minutes to cool mixture off a little. Stir in vanilla. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours.
2) When you're ready to serve:
Beat the whipping cream and 2 Tbsp of sugar  until soft peaks form.
3) Transfer the chilled egg/milk/sugar mixture to a punch bowl. Fold in the whipped cream. Serve immediately. Sprinkle each serving with nutmeg. If you find it a little too thick or too sweet, simply stir in a bit of milk to thin it out.

Happy New Year !


spunkysuzi said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate winter solstice!
I was watching the news last night and i believe they said that last nights eclipse of the moon was only the second time in history that it's fallen on winter solstice :)

R. Reed said...

Just found your blog as I too am attempting to lose weight.

Just had to pop into the comments as say I LOVE the sun bread :) So cute!

blessedmama said...

Wow, what a great excuse to have a great meal! I don't know how you did this week with all the other demands, but I admire you!

Leslie said...

Beautiful meal! I'm sure it tasted even better than it looked! What a nice tradition. Me, I'm trying to keep my cookie intake to a low roar. Unsuccessfully.