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Time seems to spin by more quickly in these shortened days of winter. I always feel like I need a lot more sleep to balance the increased darkness. More time in the light, too, though that is hard to come by just now. The weather has changed. We had what felt like (and may well have been) weeks of cold clear days, when frost lay heavy until almost noon and goldenrose light painted the sides of buildings and even the sidewalks. Mornings were cold and clear and crystalline in that winter way, all streaks and puffs of pink clouds and golden light spilling over everything from far away. Now the weather has softened into rain, clouded pthalo and lilac sky lit up by the city at night. These dark winter evenings are perhaps best spent close to the stove, stirring, chopping, filling the baseboard cool of the house with warm fragrance. Last night the wind roared and threw itself at our small house. From the darkness of our bed in the morning hours I could still hear it howling in from the ocean and I knew then that it had blown all night, tossing and turning through my dreams.

the butter

This is a post that was almost lost to the havoc a rabbit's fuzzy feet can wreak on a keyboard. My cavorting Zephyr, I love you very much, and you will teach me to save my work. We happened to mention scalloped potatoes, one of us to the other, and they immediately claimed a space in our weekend, our supper (two nights in a row, now), and our bellies. It was decided that Julia Child should be the voice of authority on the matter, and a very good decision that was. I will say this, however: the butter! I know she has a reputation for her love of butter, and so do I, truly, at least among family and friends. But the quantities! I get a little anxious when our butter supply runs low, and though generally generous with the good stuff, even I voiced concerns of it being excessive and threw in a few "Oh Julia!"'s for good measure. What follows is a rough rendition of what we ate.

As I'm writing this, the fire is burning slow and bright in our fireplace; this first fire of the season. It emits a warm glow that stretches faintly toward our single-paned windows. Jer has been industriously plastic-sealing them for the winter, and though not attractive, it is a little less drafty in here.

Two Sunday nights ago (ages, I know, but I meant to exclaim about it): the moon! I hope you all saw it if you had the chance. It was steeped in an autumnal blush from all the reflected sunrises and sunsets of the world. We watched the light crawl back up into it from below and sensed that we really were seeing something. Somehow all the preceding eclipses (ever) skipped us by, either due to late inconvenient timing or cloudy skies, so this one seemed especially striking.

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Scalloped Potatoes adapted lightly but interpretatively from Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

- an ovenproof dish about 10" across and 2" deep (we used a 9x13 pyrex dish, but we did have extra potatoes). - 1 clove of garlic, cut in half. Rub the baking dish with the cut garlic. (we sliced up the garlic after and put it in with the potatoes) - 4 tbsp butter (it seemed like so much more when Jer had a great hunk of it looming on the counter and being dispersed freely in great lumps- he may also have measured rather generously) - 2 lbs "boiling" potatoes (we used 3lbs Yukon Gold but that may have been too much as it cooked slower than expected. We did end up with a pleasing amount of leftovers. I didn't peel the potatoes and they turned out delicious, but I suppose you could if you felt you had to.) Slice the potatoes fairly thinly (no thicker than 1/8") and place in cold water for now. - 1 cup milk, heated until it boils - 1 cup or so grated cheese (we probably used more like two cups, mostly Parmesan and some mozzarella because that was what the fridge contained) - salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425°. Drain the potatoes and dry them in a towel (or skip the whole water step above if you work quickly). Spread half of them in the bottom of the dish and cover with half of the cheese, butter and salt and pepper. Arrange the remaining potatoes on top and cover with the second half of the cheese and butter and seasoning. Pour on the boiling milk. Place baking dish over heat and when simmering, set in upper third of preheated oven (we completely missed the stovetop step but I imagine it is helpful for cooking the potatoes quicker). Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, milk has been absorbed, and the top is nicely browned.

bright sunshine

Today: Coombs Market in the sunshine with my mum and my husband. Bright colours, strings of light, things. Beautiful and wonderful, but also kind of ridiculous. This is a place steeped in childhood memories of goats on the roof, ice cream cones and shopping for animal stamps in the special rubber stamp store. The goats are still there, along with more ice cream than ever, but the stamp store is sadly gone. It wasn't how it used to be, but then- things don't need to stay the same. It was still a fun way to pass an afternoon. Today also, a wren and a nuthatch in the garden.

I was tired when we got home, and feeling under the weather (is that possible in this gorgeous weather?). Thus, this simple soup came about, an excellent and speedy false onion soup. It involved hot water left in the kettle from when I made tea, a spoonful of mugi (barley) miso, and a larger spoonful of caramelized onions. This got stirred together and covered in a light snow of grated Parmesan and few turns of cracked black pepper. I also sprinkled it with toasted sunflower seeds because they were sitting on the counter in front of me, but a better choice would probably have been homemade croutons.

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because: caramelized onions

I felt productive this weekend, mainly because I roasted more tomatoes and had the inspired plan to caramelize onions in the oven at the same time. It worked brilliantly, beautifully. I know this because I couldn't stop eating them this morning. They are velvety, jammy, savory and sweet. We planted onions this spring and ended up with a lot of them come harvest time. I'm pretty happy about this. However, there were a few that didn't cure well that had begun to go a bit mushy. I decided that since I had the oven on at 275° for the next five hours anyway, I may as well put some onions in. I sliced the good parts of five or so of such onions thickly and tossed them with a drizzle of olive oil in a pyrex dish. Nothing makes me tear up like these homegrown onions (not quite true, but they are certainly tear inducing). I think I stirred them twice over the course of the evening, and by the end of the cooking time they were very soft and lightly browned. I turned off the oven and left them to stew overnight. In the morning they were perfect. I added a touch of thyme-infused sea salt, and ended up snacking on a few spoonfuls before breakfast.

Because I wanted to eat more caramelized onions and because I was pretty hungry, I concocted a salad which made use of a few generous forkfuls.

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September Salad with beets, caramelized onions and pecans

I didn't measure anything because I wasn't planning on writing about it, but it turned out so good that you will have to accept my approximations until I make it again, and adjust it to taste. I thought about dressing the salad, but I'm glad that I didn't because the oil from the onions coated everything nicely.

⋅ ~ 4 leaves kale, washed, stemmed, kneaded til bright green and cut into ribbons ⋅ several handfuls diced cooked beets (I used cold beets but warm would probably be lovely as well) ⋅ several forkfuls caramelized onion (and I do mean full) ⋅ soft cheese, crumbled (I used fromage frais, but a creamy feta would also be nice, such as Doric Macedonian Feta - Elise I silently thank you every time I find myself in possession of a bucket of the stuff) ⋅ a smallish handful of pecans, hand crushed and toasted over medium heat = Assemble and eat.

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