Mirroring my query last summer of when is midsummer, actually, same goes for midwinter…in my book of course it is midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, which is right about now, 5th of February. But officially, midwinter is the winter solstice, go figure. It is also a key word in of one of my favorite carols, more proof that it happens around Christmas rather than a month and a half later as I prefer. Alas I am stubborn so for me, it will stay put where I have put it.
And it may be bleak, but it is also lovely. The light in winter, especially with snow cover, has a particular beauty to it. There may not be much of it on these short days, but what there is, we appreciate.
In the bleak midwinter at les collines, the yard is an ice sheet, the result of an ice/sleet/snow storm week before last. We had a few days where a little fresh snow cover gave some traction, but most of that has now fused to the ice below for a renewed rink-like aura to the yard. I almost expect to see a Zamboni out there smoothing it out after the dogs struggle back and forth. Well in fact, Clarence manages with hardly a pause, skittering across gracefully, albeit sometimes comically, while Nocci, after the first day with many falls and rescues, has adjusted astonishingly well relative to his age.
The holidays saw us making truffes au chocolat, 30 years to the day since our very first batch in a small chilly kitchen in Paris, and, we discovered our favorite pairing to date for les collines Hot Pepper Jelly is Four Fat Fowl’s St. Stephen cheese from Stephentown, just up the road. This cheese is dangerously delicious.
The quiet of early January production-wise allowed us to catch up on oh, a zillion overdue details, as well as get a bit of non-preserves cooking in. We made Julia Child’s Bœuf Bourguignon at the new year, and our first bacon pie (aka pommes vendangeurs) not long after. A gift of beautiful pears inspired poached pears with crème anglaise (as good an excuse as any to make crème anglaise). And we re-discovered the joy of a spoonful of June in the depth of gray January with Strawberry Preserve with Lapsang Suochong. Sometime in there we got the wood stacked, had a nap, lost the muffler on a delivery across the river.
By month’s end the pace was quickening; dare we say we can almost feel a smidge of spring in the air. We have been working on a Ginger Preserve, still a work in progress. Sevilles have arrived, which means Scots Bitter 2017 can’t be too far off.
And we are excited to have delivered our first order to Guido’s in Pittsfield, where as part of their month of love we will have a tasting of les collines pairing with Mazzeo’s in meat and fish on February 23…watch our social media for details. And in a feat of transit we will be at Guido’s Great Barrington the same day. In another sister store delivery, we’re pleased to have brought our first order to The Farmer’s Wife lovely new Millbrook location– the Ancramdale store was one of our first, way back when.
Coming soon, we are working on a few jelly & preserve value-added cocktail recipes. Because who doesn’t need a beautiful fruit cocktail in the bleak midwinter, whenever that is xo