Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Turn of the Year

Just now, at 8:51 a.m., the sun is clearing the horizon. But the good news is we have just turned the dark corner of the year, and from now on until the June solstice the days will lengthen! I don't mind the short days so much because of all the cheerful lights and decorations we put up to celebrate Christmas. Here's the bright garlands and poinsettias atop the kitchen cupboards. The miniature white lights defeat the long nights. And, of course, the prize for having short days and long nights this time of the year is enjoying the super long days of summer when it stays light outdoors until around 11 p.m. and the sky brightens by 5 a.m. I understand that in the tropics the sun rises all year at 6 a.m. and sets all year at 6 p.m. I would so badly miss the long summer evenings! I'm happy to trade them for these very short days and long nights.

Over the weekend I did some baking for this
week, but not the usual Christmas goodies. First up was a batch of sesame bagels. These are 1/2 whole wheat, and we like to eat them for breakfast with a bit of ham and cheese.

Rising in the background are some "special" buns. This recipe started out as "Finnish Cardamom Loaf" and has morphed into these yummy buns with half white and half whole wheat flour flavoured with cardamom and containing a small carton of glazed fruit peel. For some reason these yeast buns take
a terrifically long time to rise, usually two or three hours. I don't have a clue why that is. I used to put the fruit peel into the dough when the breadmaker reached the "add" stage. Now I knead it into the dough when it is removed from the breadmaker. That seems to shorten the rising time a little bit.

Next up is a batch of three coffee tins of "Heirloom Boston Brown Bread" from the More with Less Cookbook. There's no fat or sugar in this recipe. Just whole wheat, yogurt (supposed to be buttermilk), baking soda, raisins and dark molasses. Makes a lovely, healthy snack, with a bit of cheese or some cream cheese and jam. Those are the finished "special" buns on the right.

Did you ever have one of those dracaenas we call "corn plants" bloom? The first time this plant bloomed I was astonished! I didn't know they ever did that. This is the second bloom for this plant in the last eight years. The flowers are not impressive, but at night they put out lots of aroma which I find irritating. We've moved this plant to the sewing/computer room for now. We needed the extra space in the living room for the Christmas tree, and that puts the evening perfume away from where we are sitting reading.

We have another one of these "corn plants" in the bedroom, and that one doesn't bloom, but sprouts new plants from the roots in the pot.

These plants keep growing taller and taller, until they begin to fall over, or take over the space where they are. Then I take a big, sharp knife and chop through the stem a foot or two down from the top. The bottom of the plant is discarded, the top dipped into "stimroot" and replanted in some fresh soil. It's as if the plant doesn't even know it's been hacked off. It stays as fresh looking as ever and just grows upward again. They are very easy house plants and don't mind having less than full sunlight. I water them about once a week in the summer and once in two weeks in the winter: about 4 cups of water with a little bit of fertilizer, and they're perfectly happy to provide greenery inside year round.

1 comment:

  1. You make your own sesame bagels? YUM! And breads and other treats too. Very impressive. Mommy and I made cookies today and it was nearly distastrous. Nice work! :)