February 3, 2009

Avoid Being Februaried

Februaried [feb-yoo-er-eed]: To be screwed over deliberately and excessively by February's Gray Army.

This is the month of treading lightly, of watching our every icy step. Like hamsters, we burrow deep into coves of sawdust and meal nervously on our cheekfuls of seeds. We are fearful of the elements: the polar cold that transforms our breath into frozen clouds, the blades of grass that stiffen into temples before cracking to ruins. In the caves of our beds and living rooms, we wonder if anything outside is still alive. Have all of the hearts frozen at half-beat? Was any moth saved? For answers, we creep to the window; it shows us a layer of crystals, and that is all.

For those of us brave enough to exit our homes and enter February head-on, we feel as though we are looking at the world through three layers of wax paper. Instead of a woman, we see a ghost, a blur. Instead of the sun, we perhaps see a circle of gray in a blanket of onyx. A simple landscape that once had edges and right angles now, through the lens of winter, seems more like wind than photography, more like a smudge of paint than the crisp mark of a pencil.

In this unreal place, the world is a photocopied version of itself. And, as winter persists, it all becomes a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. Winter, the frosty bureaucrat! After a while the solid things--grass, spiders, etc.--get lost in the files. The files loom over us, becoming towers of summer's lost inventory, and who knows where the originals are. It takes a lot of faith to believe that grass and spiders still exist underneath all that fog and ice and snow and wet. Winter: the biggest bureacrat of all!

If we remain too long in this environment, the statistics fall in favor of hopelessness--even under the new Administration of Hope! When one is hit by the ravages this month administers against our souls, he/she becomes "februaried." Many summer-inclined individuals can reach a state of frostbitten despair if februaried for too long. What if I were to tell you, though, that hope IS possible in this frosty terrain?! What if I were to declare that the sun still exists? That love is still possible? That citrus is your savior? (Citrus? What the...)

To avoid being "februaried," try using some of these sunny ingredients in dishes where you'd least expect them: cranberries, ginger, citrus zest, agave syrup, and jalapeno peppers. A pinch of these ingredients can add a punch of spice or sweetness to your life, thus remedying your wintered-out condition. These ingredients are approved by the FRC (February Resistance Council).

What are your favorite sunny treats to serve in the depths of hell--er, winter?

For a great sunshine-inspired winter dessert, check out this colorful tart my friend Hadley created over at Hadley Gets Crafty! This tart is sure to make your heart pump 20,000 watts of solar energy! Also check out Mad About Martha's FRC-friendly treat: roasted pineapple with coconut sorbet!

Here's a tangy & nutritious winter dish sure to aid any februaried soul:

Brussels Sprouts of Passion
(Photos of these sprouts forthcoming. In my februaried state, I refused to brave the elements to develop my photos. There is hope in tomorrow, though...)
10-15 brussels sprouts, halved
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup almonds, chopped and roasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 an orange (eat the other half as an appetizer!)
1/2 cup water
dollop of agave syrup, maple syrup, or honey
2 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a large skillet at medium heat. Toss in your chopped almonds, and roast for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Set aside.

2. Heat your olive oil in the same skillet, and toss in your brussel sprouts. Stir until coated in oil, and then cook for 5-6 minutes, or until sprouts turn slightly brown and caramelized. Add minced garlic, stir, and cook for 1 minute longer.

3. Add your water, zest, orange juice, sweetener, and cranberries. Stir until evenly distributed. Cover and let cook for 6-7 minutes.

4. Before serving, add your chopped almonds, salt, and pepper. Fill yourself with passion!


Hadley Gets Crafty said...

Oh, man. Those sound so great. I am such a brussels sprouts fan, too.

Thanks for the nod, by the way!

I still haven't made those veggie burgers. What a week I've had! Are there any job openings in your dept. out there. This librarian by day and English teacher by night thing has got me by the neck.

Paul Allor said...

I finally got around to making this last night. It came out awesome. I ate a little bit for dinner, and took some more to work for lunch today (I'm eating it at my desk right now!).

The only change I made was that I'm not a fan of roasted almonds, but love them raw, so I left them that way.

Also, sad to say, this is the first time, in my life, I've ever eaten Brussels Sprouts. Not sure how I managed to go thirty years with such a glaring gap in my culinary experience.

Jada Ach said...

Yay! Another Brussels Sprouts convert. I had my first Sprouts about a year ago...well, since my old babysitter, Bertha, tried to force some old soggy ones down my throat as a youngin. Blech! I'm glad I have now realized how utterly fantastic Brussels Sprouts can be--if they don't come from Bertha's kitchen, that is.