From Christina: The past week has been miserable for many of us here in the US, with record-setting low temperatures from New England to the south. Today, author Gemma Juliana comments upon our wintry conditions and shares a few of her memories of the season. She shares, too, a delicious recipe!
by Gemma Juliana
Autumn to winter is my favorite time of year. This week, weather is extreme all across the USA, and in general it has been unseasonably cold all season.
One aspect of winter that warms my heart is the cleansing and purifying energy of snow. Not only is it soft on the eye, the silence it creates throws me into an inner, reflective state.
I love taking a brisk walk and seeing my steamy breath materialize on the frigid air, feeling my face freeze, and then walking into our warm, welcoming home with the scents of winter and festive lights (I’m a Christmas lights fanatic and would have the entire house glowing within and without if I could physically accomplish this.) If I prepared a soup or baked before walking, those scents greet me at the door and welcome me home. All of this generates inner contentment and fosters a sense of appreciation for the little things, and the raw beauty of nature.
A mug of hot cocoa in hand, I’ll stare at the lights after everyone else is in bed, and reflect on winters past. So many loved ones are no longer here, but if I just envision the special holidays we shared, I can hear my father’s laughter ripple around me, or see my mom standing in the kitchen cooking. Then there are the ‘old ones’ on the special trips ‘home’ to Ireland. Ancient tables laden with sparkling silver, crystal glasses, and an amazing syphon on the lemonade bottle that I fell in love with when I was ten. All those ancestors are long gone on their journeys to the afterlife. Winter is a fitting time to reflect on those no longer with us, as it is a season of death just before regeneration. Western society isn’t always comfortable contemplating death, but I find that a bit of time reflecting on the role it plays in our natural cycle enriches life.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience both traditional cold winters with snow, bare trees and evergreens, and warm water-skiing winters spent on beaches. My preference is a snowy, cold winter any day.
How about you, what’s your favorite winter memory?
Here’s a soup I love to make this time of year. It’s hearty, nourishing and delicious.
1 tsp olive oil (or other oil)
1 onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ lb Brussels sprouts quartered
1 can asparagus, drained
4 oz fresh spinach leaves
32 oz vegetable or chicken broth
1/3 cup almond butter
Tbsp Herbs de Provence
15 oz can Great Northern beans, drained
PREPARATION: In a saucepan, warm oil and add onion, garlic, Brussels Sprouts, herbs and pepper, and let them cook about 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Add broth and let cook ½ hour on med-low heat. Add asparagus and spinach leaves, stir, then put lid on for five minutes so spinach wilts. Finally add almond butter. Use hand held blending stick to reduce soup to a thick liquid consistency. Then I add the beans for a little ‘bite’. Return to simmer until you wish to eat.
NOTE: This is an adaptable soup – you can add other veggies. If you use this mix, though, the color of the soup is an amazing visual bonus. Bon appetit!
GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity. Her latest release, Christmas Spirits, is a spicy novella set in Ireland. You’ll find it — along with her other titles — at Amazon.com.