Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Last night I hosted my annual Winter Solstice gathering. I relate more to holidays that come from the change in season rather than an event in biblical times. I like the non-commercial aspect of winter solstice and the fact that we’re celebrating lighter days ahead.
Every year I host this event I stress that no one bring anything they bought. Usually there’s the odd person who doesn’t listen but last night everyone did. Instead I came up with a gift giving activity that made everyone feel good.
Here’s how the activity played out:
I had nine people (the maximum that can fit in my place). We each were given nine different shapes of paper. Since Winter Solstice is the festival of lights, I told all my guests to write down nine gifts they received in 2009 that ‘put light in their lives’. After they were done, we all put it in one bag and shook it around and then handed nine different shapes back to everyone. That way we all got to share the gifts we were given. Some were funny, some were practical and some were touching. Feel free to share this idea if you’re looking for non-commercial activities for your holiday guests.
As soon as the produce starts to diminish at the farmer’s market, I start baking more. Yesterday I made pita for the first time since last winter! It’s a lot of fun, very hands-on and you should give yourself an afternoon to make it. Not to say you’re going to be in the kitchen the entire afternoon but the process is time consuming….in a good way!
Here’s how I made the Pitas:
6 cups of Whole Wheat flour (the recipe calls for white flour but it turned out pretty good with all whole wheat)
1 package of active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of honey
1.5 teaspoon of salt
1.5 cups of warm water
First take half a cup warm water, dry yeast and honey and mix together in a bowl. Let it sit for ten minutes. When you return the yeast should activate into a frothy mixture. (the first attempt didn’t work, so I tried again and that did).
Take the yeast mixtures and 3 cups of flour with the rest of the water and start mixing until mixture doesn’t stick to the bowl. Then remove from the bowl and place on a floured surface. (this is the fun part). Start kneading the dough until it no longer is sticking. Keep adding flour to the counter as you knead the dough. This should take about 15 minutes. (great upper body workout!)
Roll into a ball and place in a bowl with olive oil. Coat the dough in olive oil and cover with a moist towel and let it sit in a warm area for an hour. This was close to sunset so I walked to Cedarvale park and watched the sun go down. Then came back and the dough had risen! Roll the dough into a long cylinder. Cut into around eight equal pieces and rolls into balls. Place back into the bowl and cover with moist towel and let stand another 30 minutes.
Preheat the over to 500. Take the top rack out and place the bottom rack close to the bottom of the oven. Place pan in the oven as it heats up.
Roll out the balls into pita shapes. Place two at a time for 4 minutes. I mixed some of them with Rosemary and it turned out very nice. Enjoy with a hot hearty lentil soup.
Happy Winter Solstice!