When did it happen that I began wishing for rain in the summer? I've gone from shameless sun-worshipper to dedicated shade-seeker. We're in the midst of a heat wave here on southern Vancouver Island and I'm thinking fondly of October. Heck, I'd even trade in today's 5:10 am sunrise and 9:18 pm sunset for the dark days of winter in order to have more comfortable weather. Hopefully this heat passes quickly and mildly, and in the meantime I'll content myself with walks in the coolness of evening when the light is at its most beautiful.
This evening I carried the baby in my arms down the hill to the beach. The ocean shimmered smokey blue and silver under brooding clouds. We saw a Northern Flicker, robins and swallows, and two baby cottontails. Baby took this all in with his bright, curious eyes and sucked on my arm a bit. These are quiet days (if you don't count the standard crying). We are still settling in to our new rural home and to life with a charming dependant.
The rain is pouring down in that most soothing temperamental way of coastal storms. The water shines on the dark needles of the conifers and the bare branch tips of the birch. Our house is cold, and since we have baseboard heat and single pane windows there are also a lot of blankets. One rabbit is snoring, and the other is under the coffee table. I'm not sure, but I think this is how I start every post: the state of our birch tree, what the rabbits are up to, and something about the weather. I've been saying in the back of my mind for a while now that I need to take better care of myself. This may be related to having gone through much of November with a sore throat. I remembered last night about the salt water gargle trick. Better late than never. More soup, more sleep. Probably yoga and more leafy greens and time spent with trees are also in order.
It's a little hard to believe that we're this far into winter already. I've been thinking wistfully about first snowfall for about a month now, for about the amount of time that it usually would be snowing back in Nelson. Amazingly, we may actually get some snow here on the coast this week. I hope that the amount of time I get to observe it drifting down outside windows and in the forest exceeds the time I spend walking through streets sloshing in brown slush. It will still have been worth it, even so.
We've had the oven on a lot lately, mainly roasting vegetables. I particularly love roasted vegetables topped with a poached egg and some grated cheese. I leave the oven door open after I've turned it off to help heat the house. Tomorrow the oven will be on baking holiday cookies and I am so excited. I'm notoriously bad at initiating social occasions, but to my friends who live nearby: please come bake with me. I plan to spend as much of December as possible in the kitchen.
I've had some time off, which may account for this good mood and this first blog post in five months (!). I suppose I could say we've been doing exciting things and visiting everyone we miss in the daily grind of working life. But mostly that wouldn't be true. It is such a relief to finally have time for ourselves. Things like Enough Sleep, baking, painting, cooking real food... these have been enough, so much enough that I want to wallow in them and never go back to the hectic busy life. It is so good to see the light move across the house and garden at different times of day. To mostly not wear a bra. To stay up until midnight painting ten paintings at once and listening to an audiobook because I squeezed too much paint onto the palate and because I could.
I don't have a recipe today, only a heartfelt recommendation of the quiet life, of stepping back and slowing down, of spending a day pulling weeds and listening to birdsong, and of walking in the rain under dripping trees and coming home to make chai and chilli and biscuits, or whatever is easy and fulfilling. Also, I get awkward about blogging when I let too much time elapse between posts, and had meant to write something quite different but here we are and it's good to be back.
Most notable is the light lingering towards evening, and that I've left my sweater at home every morning this week and haven't missed it.
While dinners lately have tended towards dull, parsnips have been the shining stars of several meals, as have broccoli, cabbage and sambal olek. We found last year's rhubarb in the freezer and had it sauced with pancakes. Then there was chocolate cheesecake for my dad's birthday...
Chocolate Marble Cheesecake Makes one 9" cake. My mother's recipe- I'm not sure where she got it from.
Crust 1/4 c butter, softened 2 tbsp sugar 1/2 tsp vanilla 1/2 c flour
Preheat oven to 400º F. In large mixing bowl, beat butter till soft. Gradually add sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and stir in flour. With floured fingertips, press dough evenly in bottom of ungreased 9" springform pan. Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
Cheesecake 1 recipe cheesecake crust 3/4 c sugar 2 tbsp flour 1/8 tsp salt 3 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, at room temperature 2 eggs, at room temp. 1 c heavy whipping cream (unwhipped) 3 oz bittersweet baking chocolate, melted
Make crust. Preheat oven to 375º F. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour and salt; mix well. Add cream cheese. With mixer at medium speed, beat until smooth and well blended. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla; beat just until well blended (scrape down bowl to incorporate and prevent any lumps). Set aside 2 c filling. Pour remaining filling on top of crust. Stir chocolate into reserved filling until well combined. Drop chocolate mixture by tablespoonfuls into cream cheese filling, forming 6 "puddles". Swirl filling with a knife 2 or 3 times for a marbled effect. Bake 55 minutes (centre will be slightly soft). Immediately run spatula around edge of cake to loosen from pan (this helps prevent cracking). Cool on wire rack 1 hr, then cover and chill at least 4-5 hrs before cutting.