Friday, February 05, 2010

February Friday Five

We have been having an uncharacteristically un-dreary midwinter here -- just the other day we were remarking on the number of sunny days -- but usually up here it's more the way RevGalBlogPal Sally describes it, in today's Friday Five intro:

Candlemass is past, and Christmas is well and truly over, here in the UK February looks set to be its usual grey and cold self. Signs of spring are yet to emerge; if like me you long for them perhaps you need ways to get through these long dark days. So lets share a few tips for a cold and rainy/ snowy day....



1. Exercise, what do you do if you can't face getting out into the cold and damp?
That's easy -- nothing. Both Fellow Traveler and I are terrible couch potatoes when it's cold and inclement -- FT has to watch her asthma, and we're both just disinclined toward indoor exercise (hence the barely used free fitness center privilege we earn as volunteer webmeisters), and we both have sedentary pastimes we enjoy more.


2. Food; time to comfort eat, or time to prepare your body for the coming spring/summer?
Soup is my wintertime comfort food...as folksinger Greg Brown puts it, Smells like winter at our house/winter smells like soup. Last week I made my mother's winter standard, cream of potato soup with bacon, to rave reviews. (Fry diced bacon until browned but not hard; drain and set aside, leaving maybe a tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan. Use this to sautee a small onion, diced, and about a cup and a half of celery, sliced thin. In the meantime cook about 5 decently sized, peeled and diced, potatoes in just enough water or stock to cover; when they're tender, drain off most but not all of the cooking liquid, then combine in a blender with the sauteed vegetables, and pulse until nice and smooth...or, if you prefer more texture, mash the potatoes by hand in the remnant of cooking liquid, then add the vegetables as is. Whichever you prefer, at this point return the pureed vegetable mixture to the potato-cooking saucepan/leave it there and add about a cup and a half of milk. Add the reserved bacon and heat mixture until hot but not boiling.)


3. Brainpower; do you like me need to stave off depression, if so how do you do it?
My Seasonal Affective Disorder is very positively affected by any extra winter sunlight whatsoever...so by about the second week in January I'm already feeling a bit more chipper.  December is usually the cruelest month for me; I think a combination of pleasanter-than-average weather and the busyness of our travel schedule was the only thing that kept me out of my usual December funk.)


4. How about a story that lifts your spirits, is there a book or film that you return to to stave off the gloom?
Garden and nursery catalogs -- garden porn, as we gardeners like to refer to it -- are my books of choice this time of year, much to the amusement of friends and loved ones. This is especially true this winter, as I've been tasked with the projects of 1) making our landscaping more bee-friendly, if we go ahead and pursue that particular new project; and 2) re-doing the plantings around our patio/gazebo, to replace the scraggly spirea that came with the house. The challenge of identifying honey and pollen plants and deciding where to place them in our yard, and the challenge of picking bee-friendly shrubs and perennials that will "pop" around our patio area -- which encompasses three different sun exposures -- has been keeping me very mentally and emotionally engaged. (Fellow Traveler, who is adamant that she knows nothing about color and shouldn't be asked about such things, was nonetheless intrigued by my latest suggestion to combine oranges and blues -- colors that I think would look swell against the colors of the patio and the house, and that I've used with some success in container gardening.)


5. Looking forward, do you have a favourite spring flower/ is there something that says spring is here more than anything else?
Around here it's the first appearance of the robins that usually get people excited.


Bonus; post a poem/ piece of music that points to the coming spring......
I love George Winston; his music reminds me of my bookstore-slumming days, in my 20's, with Windham Hill ambient music wafting through the store all day. Here's Winston performing "Rain":







8 comments:

Sally said...

Love # 2, soup is just wonderful isn't it!

altar ego said...

The soup sounds fab, thanks for sharing the recipe. My winter staple is corn chowder, enhanced by bacon, chicken and curry. I guess it might need a different name with those add-ons. And yes, you're absolutely right about garden and seed catalogs! My favorite is White Flower Farm. The pictures are great for a lift, but I love the catalog itself is nicely written.

Pastor said...

Soup...YES! I made a huge pot of vegetable soup this week and it definitely hit the spot!

Auntie Knickers said...

Thanks so much for posting the recipe -- I had pretty much doped it out from your Facebook description but it's nice to have explicit directions. Going to the meat market to get bacon today!

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Quite a few years ago, I ran across a book about color choices in the garden. I wish I could give you the name of it. One thing I do remember is that they advised to add white flowers to any combination because they always contrast nicely.

I've given up on doing anything too deliberate because some stuff grows/blooms well some years and not others. And then there are the various bloom times: some plants bloom two weeks before or after other plants. And two years ago, everything bloomed almost a month late. Strange but true. That year, the wild blueberries were still to be picked in early Sept.

Jan said...

You reminded me that I miss seeing robins, too! Soup making is what seems right in cold, gloomy weather.

Mrs. M said...

Yes, soup!

For us, it's a beautiful orange-colored roasted veg soup!

P-Squared said...

As it snows here, "The Big One" as they are billing it, I think I will get out the stock pot and see what soup comes forth...