Snow Worshiper

07 Dec 2009

3536604102_672f4c3474 Galtee Mountains, Counties Limerick, Tipperary and Cork, Ireland

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a snow worshiper. No, I am not an avid skier, nor do I create elaborate sculptures out of snow and ice, but indeed, I have a loving relationship with snow. From the first dainty “dusting” to a full on white-out blizzard, I adore it. Powdery, heavy, sparkling, icey, fluffy, packy, soft, clean, dirty, slippery, flakey…love it all.  For me, it symbolizes the beginning of the holidays and makes everything more merry. The joy of making snowmen and snow angels and going sledding followed by sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows is absolutely priceless. I’ve never found it particularly annoying to drive in the snow, on the contrary, it’s just been a part of life.  I grew up with it and yes, I remember the days when the snow was as high as our house, and when deer would get trapped on icebergs on Lake Michigan and all that jazz. Loved it. And there it was again in the summer when the town council dug up the snow they’d buried in the winter and brought it out for the “Snow Festival” parade and made children’s eyes wide as pies.

Nowadays, everyone back home seems to complain that it just doesn’t snow like it used to and I am here to tell you that AT LEAST IT STILL SNOWS! Sure, Ireland gets a wee bit of snow, but it usually falls short of us by landing on top of the mountains or other highlands. The photo above depicts a beautiful snowfall on the Galtee Mountains which are near us so if I am driving to Limerick I can see this winter wonderland, but not fully experience it. One day last year it began to snow at our house and Geoffrey and I were so happy we nearly fell down the stairs in excitement.  We put on our outdoor gear and ran outside only to find that the flurries had stopped and all of it had melted upon impact. It’s just too mild here for the snow to stick, but I’m forever optimistic; each winter I still think maybe it will really snow this year…

Many of the Irish and English make do by taking trips to Lapland, Finland, located in the frozen Arctic Circle. The twinkling snow covered forests and northern lights-filled night skies are meant to be simply breathtaking. Perhaps we’ll go to Lapland one day, but for now Richard says he’s going to buy some type of snow machine and hmmm, I wonder about that. Would it be the same? Who knows, but there’s no doubt that I’d love it because for me, snow in Winter is like the icing on the cake {with a cherry on top!}.

3191212829_e34c218e82 Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Happy Snowy Holidays!

Slán Abhaile,

Imen

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pumpkin-pie-sl-364650-x

Here I go writing about food again, but how can I resist when Thanksgiving is right around the corner? I have always had an affinity for Thanksgiving.  It may just possibly be my most favorite American holiday. We had the same lovely tradition for so many years of traveling to my grandmother’s house where all of my wonderful extended family would come together on a (usually) pretty snowy day and celebrate with loads of turkey and all the trimmings. The best bit of it all? The PUMPKIN PIE of course!

Now, as far as I can tell, pumpkin pie would not be something that the Irish necessarily love…even though the famed Jack-O-Lantern has it’s roots in Irish lore, the pumpkin does not get the same celebrity status as in the USA.  I’ll never forget the time when Richard and I were still dating and I was visiting Ireland during Thanksgiving. I decided on a whim that I would make Thanksgiving dinner for his whole family. I mean you can’t NOT celebrate Thanksgiving, right? I brought over pumpkin and cranberry and other pantry items to be on the safe side..along with my trusty Martha Stewart recipes that I had chosen for that year. We used a turkey from the farm (don’t ask the details about that) which was lovely and I began making this extravagant meal that I thought everyone would surely love and appreciate. Well okay, maybe I just wanted them to love and appreciate ME.

So. The first thing that went wrong was that I was oblivious to the fact that there would be differences in oven temperatures. Here, we use celsius, not fahrenheit so I had to do some major conversions which drove me a bit mad. Then, the same with the measurements! Everything is in metric so instead of cups I had to work in mls and grams. The last time I used grams for anything I cannot discuss here, but let’s just say it was a long time ago so as you can imagine converting ounces to grams to mls to cups and back again completely did my head in.  Still, somehow I sorted it out and made a gorgeous meal for everyone.

We sat down in the formal dining room and started to eat. I was happily taking in all the compliments and actually feeling a little chuffed when I was posed with the question of “So, Imen, is Thanksgiving a Jewish holiday?”.  Huh?  I told myself not to giggle. I answered eloquently, explaining the history of Thanksgiving (Charlie Brown style, of course) that no,  it was not Jewish, but that Jewish people do, in actual fact, observe the holiday with all the other Americans. They were fascinated and nearly ate every last morsel that I had prepared. Success!

But then came dessert. The famous pumpkin pie. I wish I had videotaped the faces on everyone as they took their first bite of this yummy sweet/savory delicacy that we love so dearly in the USA.  Surprise. Delight. Terror. No expression just fast gobbling. Sheer happiness (me).  And then, out of the blue, a quote uttered by Grandma McDonnell, “Tis Different”.  A phrase which I learned much later had meant “It’s Rotten”.  I find this quite humorous and touching. She actually thought it tasted rotten, but ate it all and never said a bad word to me.

Oh well, it’s still my favorite. And Richard and Geoffrey love it too. (Really!)

Mind Yourself,

Imen

Photo courtesy of Food Network

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