Shades of Grey

21 Tue, 2010 § 8 Comments

I do not naturally love winter.  I have no winter sports that I enjoy that keep me where I prefer [outdoors].  I hate being cold.

I have had to slow down & turn inward — mimic the season in a way — to learn to cherish it…or at least not become horribly depressed when the worst cases of cabin fever hit, usually around January/February.  I have already been feeling down though with the stress of moving & finding work.  The holidays have not even passed — this is supposed to be a festive & joyous time!  I can’t already be sad.

Fortunately, today is the winter solstice: the shortest day & longest night of the year.  It is “midwinter”, which means the gradual lengthening of days, & therefor, return of light to the earth.  Last night, I realized I can embrace & mimic this within myself as well.

Dave & I have started a tradition of taking a midnight or night hike during the winter solstice.  Since there was a lunar eclipse last night, we decided to enjoy our hike a night earlier than usual.

We bundled up, anticipating a frigid night, & headed out to the national forest that lies just east of us.  It is only a short walk & the perfect setting for our hike.  Eisley was thrilled.

The wind gusted constantly; we had expected it to be biting, but it was actually refreshing.  I wasn’t cold at all, which was a shock to both of us [I’m known for freezing in 70*F weather].  We found a beautiful meadow, hoping it would be an ideal spot to witness the transformed moon.  Being our first trek into these woods, it was amazing to see it from night’s perspective, surrounded by varying shades of grey.  Even the eclipse glowed only a faint yellowish grey.  Though that was sort of a dud, it was amazing to be out in the night air, walking the network of trails by moonlight & growing anxious to see them by daylight.

I decided that I will not forget or neglect the bits of “light” that bring me happiness & make my life worthwhile.  I also need to acknowledge my own inner light — my beauty & worth — & not let my self esteem [or worth] wane.  I will strive to embrace this & allow it to grow along with the natural light in the world.


Now speaking of a different type of light & warmth, we wanted a warm & hardy — but not heavy — meal before heading out.  I had everything needed for one of my favorite truffled whipped bean dishes…except the white beans & leeks.  I did, however, have lentils, & a beautiful white onion calling from the basket to be caramelized.   I love lentils, but often forget this & therefor forget to make them often.  After this meal, I do not think I will be guilty of that again.

French Lentils with Caramelized Onions, Thyme & Truffle Oil

2 servings

Rinse ¾ cup of french lentils [or cook more if you’d like leftovers for something else].  Prepare by simmering in 1.5 cups of water, until water is absorbed & lentils are soft. [Mine took ~50 minutes, which seems long; often it’s closer to 20, so I don’t know what to tell you.  Just watch them closely I suppose.]

When lentils are nearly finished, use a large skillet to saute a small, thinly-sliced sweet onion in olive oil over med to med-high heat for ~5 minutes.

Quarter 10 or so baby bella mushrooms & add to the skillet with a splash of mirin or white wine.  Saute ~5 minutes more.

Stir in 1 – 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme & the juice from ½ a lemon.  Saute about 2 minutes longer.

Fold in 1 cup of cooked lentils, add some fresh-ground pepper & allow to heat through for a minute.

Remove from heat.  Serve in bowls & drizzle with ~1 teaspoon of truffle oil.

The worst part about this meal: I was hoping for leftovers…

While I absolutely love the way truffle oil enhances this dish, don’t stress or rush out to buy some if you don’t have it.  [When you do have a bit to splurge or find it on sale, I highly recommend it.  Only a little goes a long way.]  This dish is still delicious without it, or you could simply drizzle with quality olive oil instead.


Did you catch a glimpse of the lunar eclipse last night?

Do you have any fun or special traditions that occur before the holidays?

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