23 Days ’til Christmas: A Little Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

24 Days ’til Christmas: Gluten Free Stuffing

Last year I was sorely disappointed with the boxed gluten free stuffing mix that I bought for Thanksgiving (sadly, it’s now a necessity for our household to be gluten free…I really miss croissants!) so I did my own thing this year. It was so much better and, in case you’re doing a turkey for Christmas, I thought I’d share.

006Gluten Free Stuffing

Makes enough stuffing for a 17 pound bird plus a casserole dish to bake on the side.

1 bag Bobs Red Mill (no affiliation, just what I used) gluten free cornbread mix, prepared according to directions except baked in a well greased 13″x18″ (1/2-sheet) pan until very golden brown

2 Schar (no affiliation, just what I used) parbaked gluten free baguettes

1 stick butter

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

5 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups low sodium chicken stock plus 2 additional cups for the baked dressing

Cut the baked cornbread into little squares–you’re basically making croutons here. Tear the bread into pieces. Let both breads get stale or bake in a low oven until dried out.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté celery, onion, mushrooms, and garlic together until very tender. Add broth, herbs, and spices. Pour over breads. Toss to combine.

Use part of it to stuff your turkey. To the remainder of the stuffing (which will now morph into dressing), add the two additional cups of stock. Place in a greased casserole dish, cover, and bake at 325º F for at least 45 minutes.

Let me know if you have a good gluten free croissant recipe!



21 More: Stars

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

If it’s not stormy, fall and winter nights can be excellent for star gazing. It’s dark early and sometimes the skies can be crisply clear.  To give your star gazing muscles a gentle stretch, try looking for the brilliant stars that make up the constellation Orion, The Hunter.

orion2For a bigger challenge, look for M42, the Messier object called the Great Orion Nebula. On a really clear and dark night you might see it with the naked eye as a bit of a blur. With binoculars or a small telescope you’ll have more luck.  Look below Orion’s belt at his “sword” to find the nebula (see squared area below).m42Related note: I hope the Orion launch goes smoothly tomorrow after being cancelled today. I don’t think I can handle getting up at 7:05 a.m. ET (4:05 a.m. my time) to see if it works but good luck, NASA!

22 More: Creatures

You have to sign up in advance (which is why I’m telling you now) to participate in the 115th annual Christmas Bird Count but it’s free to do so this year.  The count starts December 14 and goes until January 5th.  Individual counts, however, are held in local areas on a specific day within the 3+ week period. Find your local circle and date of that bird count and/or sign up here.IMG_5151And, let us know what you see in the comments!

23 More: Sounds

As I write I’m listening to my favorite recording of Handel’s Messiah: Boston Baroque‘s 1992 performance. Period instruments and the select musicians really make it for me. [What’s your favorite version of Messiah?]  I had to start with the Hallelujah Chorus (doesn’t everybody?) but I then started at the beginning. Just now “For unto us a Child is born” finished playing and we’re into the Pifa. So amazing, so relaxing.  Yet Handel wrote the whole thing in a period of three weeks from August 22, 1741-September 14, 1741. His librettist, Charles Jennens was rather disappointed by the speed, saying that Handel had “made a fine Entertainment of it, tho’ not near so good as he might and ought to have done.”

MessiahOh, and speaking of sound: I’ve been reading Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn (haven’t finished yet but so far, so good) which led me to the research of astronomer Dr. Mark Whittle who has made primordial sound audible today. Awesome. The sounds aren’t particularly musical but do check out the audio files and accompanying text on Whittle’s website.

24 More: Season of Light

IMG_5159The Advent Calendar is up and I started thinking about doing some posts like I did three years ago in the run-up to Christmas.  No promises that I’ll be able to post every day because at some point in the last year my life became way too complicated for predictability.

It struck me as funny that I take down a sun sculpture in order to hang up the advent calendar.  Something in my subconscious must be mingling traditions. 😉

3 Days ’til Christmas: Happy Winter! / Magazine Will Be Up LATE (the 27th)

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Welcome to winter. It’s the shortest day of the year. After today we’ll start seeing extra minutes of daylight. But, as my dad says (and probably his dad before him), “As the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.”

UPDATE: Regarding the magazine – It will be up late. Your Humble Editor has hit the wall. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the new issue will be up on Tuesday, December 27th. We hope you’ll enjoy it!