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Thoughts on home, nourishment, work, and earth. 

Winter Solstice Supper

 

December 17th, 2016

Old Line Supper Club: Winter Solstice Supper 

Each course of the Winter Solstice Supper was based upon a gift from my life; the gifts of history, harvest, education, and love. Winter Solstice is a time of celebration, harvest, and gifts given and appreciated, and our meal was much the same. Below is a copy of the menu and stories from the evening. 

Photo from Miranda Ellis Hontz

History

Both of my grandmothers have libraries.

Maryanne kept a basement pantry stocked with endless canned vegetables, beans, and Campbell’s soups. As child of the Depression, her basement was an abundance of post war innovation and reminiscent of a stocked root cellar. When my family visited her home, she would send me down to choose a can for lunch. I was in awe with the endless possibility of meals tucked away underground, waiting.

Dorothy has a collection of cookbooks that overflow the bookshelves. Countless volumes could become weeknight sustenance, dinner party offerings, cakes, confections, and treasured recipes. There is more than one lifetime of suppers in these pages.

As a child I didn’t recognize the history in my grandmothers’ cooking, trickling through. Roots and alliums, butter and potatoes, orchard fruit - despite all that has happened since, Ireland whispers to me still.

 

Oat cakes with chive butter

Fried apples

Salt and coffee baked beets

Spruce smoked potatoes

Grilled leeks

Onions pickled in molasses and cider

Dill pickles

 

Mulled Winter Warmer; sweet vermouth, brandy, mulled cherry cider, honey


Harvest

Four of my seasons have come and gone, I hope I will see many more. I have only begun to work with the earth.

I have tended the dirt, fermented compost, nurtured seedlings, collected seeds, wished for rain, and wished for rain to stop. I have brought death to some insects and beseeched others to live with me. I have shielded plants from the hottest sun and early frosts. I have whispered to many plants, earth’s creatures. For this, sometimes the earth rewards me. Flowers, fruits, seeds, and grains are my provision for the future.

I feel her magic at all times.

Winter soup; Winter squash, butter beans, kefir cream, cultured salsa verde, last harvest bitter greens, cornbread crouton,* jalapenos and carrots en escabeche

Cranberry Smash; Gin, cranberry, lemon, rosemary sprigs, raw sugar

Cranberry kombucha


Education

My brother in law, John, is not exacting in all things, but certainly in many. He taught me how to start tomato seedlings, respect the Bay, properly taste Belgian beers, and pursue the perfect pasta. A devotee of Thai cuisine, John also taught me to make Thai curry paste, and then showed me a book that can teach me to make 500 more.

I’ve learned that there is a lot of knowledge to be pursued, and it can come in unlikely places. Microbiology lives in my beverages, weather patterns rule my garden, and nations reveal their psyche in their food. In many ways, John showed me the path through books and life I’m walking, which has been quite a gift indeed.

Maryland Thai curry paste

Choose a large mortar and pestle, preferably a Thai-style 8-10 inch non-porous stone bowl. In a dry skillet, toast 1 tsp coriander seed for about 30 seconds on high heat until fragrant. Move to the mortar and pestle and grind into a powder. Peel a 4-inch knob of baby ginger and slice thinly into small matchsticks. Peel half a bulb of garlic cloves. Add the ginger and garlic to the mortar and pestle and grind until they are broken down, resembling a rough paste. Remove the stems and scrape the seeds of 2-6 bird’s eye chiles. Mince the chiles, then grind together with the other ingredients until you reach a smooth paste.

Be patient and continue working the paste until smooth. Mix in 1 tbsp brown miso - this is a non-traditional ingredient used for umami and salt to replace Thai shrimp and fish sauce. Reserve the paste in a jar in cold storage for use in coconut curry and omelets.

Whole wheat pie crust* // mashed potato crust

Eggs

Kefir cream

Greens

Mushrooms

Curry paste of baby ginger, garlic, bird’s eye chiles, miso, and coriander seed

Italian Mule; Brandy, amarao, ginger beer, lime

Rooibos & black tea kombucha


Love

Jake and I are getting married in June.

I didn’t care when, but I knew it should happen almost since the beginning. I love him. I have never doubted that he loves me, but there have been moments when I have known without distraction.

Jake is a baker of all things. Sourdough, sandwich bread, steamed buns, baguette, ciabatta, biscuits, pies, pastry, cookies, and tortillas are all his purview. Sometimes, to my complete surprise, this attention has been turned exclusively to me. On my twentieth birthday, Jake made the first cake for me - my favorite, a carrot cake, with candied ginger, pineapple, and cream cheese icing. Another time he made a key lime pie, and his fingers cramped from zesting so many tiny limes! One Valentine’s Day, during a move, Jake made a red velvet cake and managed to keep it a secret throughout our whole move between houses to reveal it at the end of the day.

Each cake has been a creation just for me, and I feel incredibly special. I hope this kindness is a gift I can give to others many times over.

Buckwheat & beet pound cake

Carrot orange marmalade

Cream cheese ice cream

Apple cider jelly

Coffee Nightcap; Coffee, coffee liquor, whipped cream

Lavender decaf coffee


Thanks to One Straw Farm, Brown’s Orchard, Darlin Corey Farm, Hope Ridge Organics, Daisy Organic Flours, Trickling Springs Creamery, and the back yard for produce, dairy, and preserves.

Caiti Sullivan // Vegetables & Stories

Ian Mansfield // Beverages

Jake Quaytman // Grains