It looks like we may actually have a winter this year! Rain already and lots of snow in them there hills creates a sense of optimism much needed at this time of the year especially in a drought. Holiday madness marches in, assesses us and proceeds to attack from all angles sparing no one in the wake, religious or not. Stress joins the party in epic proportions weakening immune and temper systems, patience flying out the door as fast as the heat you built up all day keeping the door shut and all of the sudden your ho, ho, ho escapes with it. Break the cycle, be the first one on your block to have a de=stressed holiday and share it with all. Perhaps this will be the year of do less. Meaning, less gifts, fewer decorations, less fat and alcohol, to suggest a few lesses. Now I’m am in no way shape or form suggesting no one have any fun, no ma’am, just merely suggesting that there is more fun to be had when you can enjoy it without worry or hassle. Many years ago we (I) had a pow- wow with me, and my son, and stated the obvious, if I am happy everyone is happy, and, switched around aint, so pretty. To all the doers out there, slow down. Your first tier decorations are awesome; leave it at that, even if your Mrs. Jones next door did not get the memo. As my yoga teacher states daily “stick to your own mat”. Less is more in giving. Teachers, coaches, hair stylists and even the mail man are happy with a card and will welcome not having to regift your gift, again. Family, draw numbers and get one! Little kids the exception, but stress to your kids that in order to receive, you must give. Cull the toy box and take it to a shelter to make room for new booty. You get the drift.
Parties are madly pulsating with once a year energy and abandon challenging the best of us, even in our most stable moments, which are fleeting at best for the month. By all means go, go have a blast, but take food you can eat in between junk like mandarin oranges, my favorite and conveniently in season, salad you can easily fork into your mouth while talking and soda water to infill between each wine or whatever is going to puff you up and give you a headache in the morning but makes you the life of the party at the moment. You can soda water in between and still be funny and coy! Good news! Shop at least once a week at the farmers market and actually cook and eat what you buy. Make a lot of soups. Souper key to balancing those events is watching it between them. There are an amazing array of fruits and veggies in season and a couple of my favorites are pomegranates, not just because of the super sexy and exciting Greek mythology surrounding them either, and citrus. Crazy new varieties of citrus keep popping up so experiment like a mad scientist, you will not be sorry.
Persephone is said to have been held prisoner for six months of the year by her husband, Hades, because he tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds while she was his prisoner. This so devastated her mother, Demeter, that she no longer blessed the earth with fertility for those six months. Could be one ancient explanation for the seasons. Whatever the cause, when pomegranates come around they are a delight to behold. Representing romance and mysticism can’t hurt either. If cleaning may stop you from partaking in the pomegranate, cut off the top, score the sides and immerse in water to dislodge the arils. They will sink and the inedible pith will float. Use these sweet tart seeds to liven up a salad with Fuyu persimmon slices while dousing all in orange vinaigrette. Swallow the seed after you suck out the juice, this is where all the fiber is stored. Pomegranates are packed full of vitamin C and an amazing source of antioxidants. You can get fresh pressed pomegranate juice all winter at most farmers’ markets. This amazingly nutrient filled ruby nectar is a great sauce medium. Reduce 2 cups pomegranate juice with 2 cups stock. Take down by half and add a few tablespoons of honey, a handful of toasted walnuts and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. Toss your grilled chicken breast or better yet, grilled eggplant with the result to achieve romance and health in your life. Shake fresh pressed pomegranate juice with a dash of soda water, a tablespoon of simple syrup and a nice jigger of good vodka. Strain into an iced martini glass and garnish liberally with fresh arils and a wedge of lime creating the perfect holiday cocktail literally guaranteeing passage at all the best parties of the season.
Newer to arrive at the party of the seasonal farmers markets are the cocktail grapefruits. Also known as the Mandelo, they are a genius cross between ancient ancestors, mandarins and a pommelo’s. Not technically a grapefruit, this luscious fruit is eligible to be thoroughly enjoyed by statin consuming friends. White fleshed and a little seedy, cocktail grapefruits have not yet achieved huge commercial success which bodes well for tirelessly loyal farmers market shoppers as it remains as it was when created, tenderly amazing, instead of molded into something that packs and ships better.
Uniquely flavored, crazy sweet and addictively juicy by the cross of citrus, cocktail grapefruits meld well with savory as well as sour, acidic or sweet flavor profiles delectable bushwhacking taste buds as well as visitors to your table. Juice of said grapefruit muddled with mint leaves and enriched by a shot of rum is sweet enough to bypass simple syrup for a winter take on the mojito. Sprinkle brown sugar and lemon juice into a sauté pan with hot melted butter to caramelize thick slices of cocktail grapefruit to lavishly slather over ice cream, French toast, pound cake or a loved one’s body.
Get out into the chilly winter and engorge your lungs and body with the scents of the season. Walk, hike, bike, stay on pavement in rain but do it! Uncountable blessings and amazing good will reward you, a happy, de-stressed you. Happy Holidays!
The Farmers Market Lovers Calendar is once again available for a simple holiday gift purchase at www.lelseystilesfoods.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. I deliver!!
Turkey Breast Braised w/ dried apricots and pancetta
1 spilt turkey breast, bone in
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup white wine
¼ pound diced pancetta
1 cup dried apricots, chopped rough
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
Heat a large oven roasting pan and add olive oil. Season turkey and brown in pan, turning once. Add onions and pancetta and sauté until caramelized. Add apricots and stock. Cover and cook for 1 hour a 350 oven. Meet should fall off the bone. Serve over polenta.
Prawns, marinated and grilled in soft tortillas w/ avocado salsa
1 pound wild or local prawns, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
1 lemon, zested
Marinate shrimp for 2 hours in above. Grill on hot grill 3 to 4 minutes. Chop and place in soft corn tortillas. Sprinkle w/ queso fresco or shredded jack and avocado salsa.
1 avocado, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 lemon, juice and grated peel
1 fuyu persimmon, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all in bowl. Season to taste.
Fresh Kale Salad w/ Pomegranate Arils and Fuyu Persimmons
1 large bunch kale of any kind, sliced and washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 to 2 lemons or 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
2 Fuyu persimmons, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Sea salt and pepper to taste or Braggs Amino Acids to taste
Toss kale, tomatoes, fruits and green onions in a large salad bowl. Drizzle on lemon juice, zest and olive oil and toss well. Season w/ Braggs or salt. Let sit a few minutes to gently “cook” the kale for a few minutes or up to an hour before serving. Serves 4 to 6.