Monday, January 11, 2016


(Sunday, Jan. 10) Where has winter been? Last night at midnight, I got a text from Jim and Dave -- on a truly balmy but drizzly January 9th, they were sitting on their porch enjoying a little Queen their pipes! Who knew it would be so warm STILL? Usually Ohio is absolutely freezing about now.

This morning was a different story, and I guess it's finally time for winter. We woke up to windy, cold and snowy weather. I have to admit the big snowflakes drifting down and frosting the tree branches and yards are quite pretty. Thankfully, I did all of my errands yesterday, and now I have a big pot of (Dave's recipe) cassoulet in my crockpot. It smells divine.

But I digress. Back to Queen Anne. That's the name of the special tobacco that I bought Dave as a Winter Solstice gift for his trusty (but only-occasionally used) pipe! This year, there were nine of us that gathered at Merry Mount for our favorite evening -- the Winter Solstice celebration, and our kick-off to the holiday season!

Lee and Robert joined us (fresh from the White House!) and donned some pretty snazzy outfits.

Pat's theme this year was "...till time and times are done" and he had some pretty awesome readings for us (some composed especially for the event by him and Robert!).

And the outstanding, delectable, always-amazing menu from Rett included:

Champagne with assorted liqueurs and berries
Appetizers: assorted cheese board, bacon-wrapped dates, goat cheese
 and cranberry spread, and salted pecans (Vivi)
Mary Anne's famous salad
Rett's cabernet-braised short ribs with gorgonzola polenta and mixed herb gremolata
Halibut with clementine gremolata
Roasted carrots
Monticello rolls
Italian lemon marscapone layer cake (Dave)
A little wine!
The table was gorgeous! 

And just get a load of this dessert:

After dinner, a bit of jollyment (is that a word?) with all the guys. I'm not sure if they were singing or yelling. Goofballs.


For a special gift, Rett and I (at several of our friends' requests), made a cookbook filled with photos and recipes that we've shared as a group -- mostly at Merry Mount and at the cabin in Pennsylvania. I think everyone liked it!


Happy New Year! Here are a couple of readings that Pat put together for us each to read, and a recipe to enjoy!

Vivi's Time (by Loreena McKennitt)
When white-beaded frost hath threatened his worts,
And fallen from branch and brier,
Then time away calls from husbandry halls
And from the good countryman's fire,
Together to go to plough and to sow, 
To get us both food and array,
And thus with content the time we have spent
To drive the cold winter away.

Jim's Time: Healing Heart (by Robert Bode)
Here, time is moving
In quiet breathes and
in the long, slow turn of seasons.

Here, the pain of love's arrow,
Once scarlet,
Fades to memory.

Here, the sigh of tides
And fall's surrender into snow
Mark a white forgetting.

Here, layers of wonder
And the heart's gentle song
Callus out again
      into the morning
      into the light.

Recipe: Halibut with Clementine Gremolata:
3 clementines
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 t. sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clementine  
4 6-ounce halibut fillets  
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
• Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (orange part only) of clementines. Chop peel (reserve flesh for another use). Combine chopped clementine peel, chopped parsley, minced garlic, and sea salt in small bowl. Stir in extra-virgin olive oil and set gremolata aside. DO AHEAD Gremolata can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
• Preheat oven to 350°F. Using vegetable peeler, remove peel of clementine in four 2-inch-long strips (orange part only). Cut four 12-inch squares parchment paper. Place halibut fillet in center of each parchment paper square. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle halibut lightly with olive oil. Place 1 clementine peel strip, cut side up, on each halibut fillet. Bring 2 edges of parchment paper together along long side of fish fillet and fold parchment edges together 3 to 4 times. Tuck both remaining edges of parchment underneath fillet to create packet and place parchment packet on rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fish fillets. DO AHEAD Halibut packets can be made 4 hours ahead. Chill on rimmed baking sheet.
• Bake fish just until opaque in center, about 18 minutes (to check doneness, unwrap packet and insert fork in fillet). Remove rimmed baking sheet from oven. Unwrap fish. Place halibut fillets on plates, spoon gremolata over, and serve!