I’ve heard conversations and read so many posts lately about being winter weary and having the January blues. I am typing in the middle of the afternoon under the covers with my space heater on. Yes, it is cold, and I love being warm, hot even. But it is WINTER! One of my treasured things about living on the East coast is the extremes in all four seasons. Winter is full of blizzards and high heat bills. When it is Summer time, it is sometimes unbearably hot and no amount of lemonade can quench my thirst. But the pure beauty of Autumn and Spring; leaves changing, flowers blooming, fresh air blowing through an open window… for me, it puts it all in perspective. Contrast is important in all things, not just the seasons.
(adj.) of grey skies and winter days; filled with heavy clouds or fog, relating to winter or cold, sunless weather
I try to honor the heartbreaks of the past because they will make my loves in the future all the more sweet. I let myself have bad days of poor choices, not-so-great thoughts, and feeling sorry for myself. Those are the days that inspire the good action days where I can clearly see who and how I want to be. I also try to embrace missed opportunities and rejection. The successes and being chosen will shine even brighter once they arrive.
This Winter I am really trying to focus on the way the snow sparkles in the sunlight. I make every effort to walk on the sunny side of the street to let the sun know I appreciate him doing his part to create some balance in temperature. And I think Really. Warm. Thoughts. There's value in the power of thought. John Demartini said, “ What we think about and thank about we bring about.” It certainly can’t hurt, right?
I used to read Shirley MacLaine books when I was younger and I always remember some wacka - dooley story about her camping and hiking somewhere in frigid temperatures. She was huddling inside her sleeping bag fearing frostbite and decided to use her thoughts to overcome her situation, so she built a small fire in her mind and very soon she felt like there were actual hot coals inside the bag with her toasting her feet and it got TOO hot. She actually had to unzip her sleeping bag to cool off a bit. Oh Shirley!
One of the biggest perks of Winter is the overflowing citrus section at the supermarket. It has taken me a while to get used to seeing perfectly ripe and seasonal fruits that seem very Summery in the dead of Winter. Cara cara oranges, kumquats, Meyer lemons, blood oranges, ruby red grapefruit. They are all little packages containing culinary sunshine to brighten up my menus. I’m sharing 3 favorites with you: a simple salad, an easy dessert, and a fancy little homemade candy. Here comes the sun, doo doo do doo…
PS-my friend Amy, The Cooking Diva has written a fantastic article on why we are cold and how to cultivate inner warmth through our diets. Check it out by clicking the link!
Citrus Avocado Salad
1 red grapefruit
1 blood orange
1 Cara Cara orange
1 ripe avocado
I Meyer lemon
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
a handful of pomegranate seeds
a drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper
Cut off the top and bottom of the citrus and stand them up on one flat end. Keeping your knife as close to the fruit flesh as possible, slice off the white pith and peel (setting them aside for the candied citrus recipe.) Slice the fruit (reserving the lemon) into rounds, removing any seeds, and arrange them onto 4 plates. Halve and carefully remove the pit and peel from the avocado slicing it thinly. Cut the peeled lemon in half and squeeze over the avocado slices to prevent browning. Arrange avocado onto the plates of citrus. Sprinkle the plates with the sunflower and pom seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Citrus Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from The Cake Boss
Makes 20 servings
- Nonstick spray, for greasing the pan
- 2 cups flour, plus more for the pan
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/4 cups fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon finely grated pink grapefruit zest, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon, freshly squeezed citrus (I mixed lemon, orange, and grapefruit) juice
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan or equivalent cake pan lightly with nonstick spray, then dust it lightly with flour, tapping out any excess.
Put the eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl (I used my kitachen aid on low and then medium) and whisk them together, then whisk in the milk, olive oil, vanilla, and citrus zest.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Working in 2 or 3 batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, whisking until smooth and fully blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the oven until the top of the cake is golden-brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let cool partially in the pan.
Turn the cake out onto a drying rack and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Using a fork, stir together the confectioners' sugar and citrus juice until smooth but thick. Spoon the glaze atop the cooled cake, letting it run down the sides. Garnish the top of the cake with more finely grated lemon and orange zest.
Candied Citrus Peel
1 Meyer lemon
1 ½ cup sugar
With a sharp paring knife, slice off ends of grapefruits, oranges, or lemons. Following the curve of fruit, cut away outermost peel, leaving most of the white pith on fruit. Slice peel lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. (If you saved your peel from the salad in the above recipe, carefully remove white pith from peel and use those!)
In a medium pot of boiling water, cook peel until tender, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer peel to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer to dry slightly, about 15 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil over high, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel and boil until it turns translucent and syrup thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer peel to wire rack, separating the pieces as needed.
Let peel dry 1 hour. Toss with 1/2cup sugar to coat.
*** Save sugar syrup to drizzle over pancakes, ice cream, or to stir into hot tea