Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Winter Solstice and My Favorite Side Dish Recipe

  Christmas lights are hung, paper chains to count down to presents were made,  and the tree is sparkly.  Actually I hung the lights on Diwali this year which conveniently and closely coincides with the end of Daylight Savings.  The more happy lights the better.  I say go Griswold if it lifts your spirits.  Lights really do make things better.

 Speaking of lights making people happy, I read on facebook today that Christopher McDougall was running at night and a local waitress saw him and gave him her battery powered string of lights so he could wear them and be more visible to drivers.  That just makes me smile!  It's a brilliant idea to wear them while out running this time of year!


  In December, it's dark, cold, people are stressed out, money is tight, roads are dangerous, tensions are high in general, and we all just want to get through it with a smile if at all possible.  We assume that the holidays will somehow right the wrongs that may be going on in our lives and are each year disappointed in something. Inevitably our expectations are too high that things will go smoothly.  Instead prepare for the worst and be happy when things are not so bad!!   Regardless we go to the family gatherings and try each time because misery loves company.  Its better to be together in the cold and dark time of year and what do we do together??  We eat.


  Everyone is inclined to eat more in the winter months.  So what you eat and how much of it makes a difference. Since its cold out it makes it less likely that you will burn off the calories to balance out the calories that went in.  Have fun, enjoy yourself, but remember to eat some nutritious food to balance out the fudge, egg nog, and Aunties christmas cookies.  Also, eat smaller portions so you can try it all!

   One of my favorite side dishes or salads is delicious, nutritious, and super fast and easy to make.  It's one that my mother in law makes and I just didn't get enough of it when we were visiting over Thanksgiving.  Yep, if you bring this dish to a gathering, you will probably be considered  "one of those people", but somebody has to bring the veggies to balance things out.

Ingredients
2 cans white hominy
2 cans of yellow hominy
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
3 cans of small red kidney beans or a bag of dried kidney beans
3-4 cucumbers
Salt, pepper, and tarragon to taste
1/4 cup or more Olive Oil.  I prefer the Extra Virgin with its more intense flavor.
Balsamic vinegar to taste


 There is no specific right or wrong way to make the salad.  You mix all ingredients together and stir.  I like to use the turkey pan to mix it all up into as it's very easy to stir and blend the ingredients together.  I find that chopping the peppers finer makes them mix in with each bite.  Add salt slowly and taste often as you add.  The hominy is a bit salty so it will add to the flavor on its own so don't over do it with the salt.   I add the vinegar last.  I sprinkle it around and its easy to add more to individual bowls if you want more.

  Besides eating we love the sun. It's an integral component to our sense of well being.
                So Merry Winter Solstice and Happy Sun Return!   
Even though it is the official start to winter and more than likely the cold and snow will hit the proverbial fan before things get better, the upside is that the days are getting longer second by second.


  When I feel down about the weather this time of year,  I like to go to Wunderground.com to see how much visible daylight there is each day and the length of the day.  After you put in the city you want to see the forecast for, scroll down to the Astronomy section.  It will show how much longer tomorrow's daylight will be.



  So put up some lights, drink some egg nog, eat some nutritional and tasty food, try not to have those same old arguments with the family, start a new tradition, learn about other's traditions, do something for someone else,  answer the phone at least once "buddy the elf, what's your favorite color?", watch funny movies with someone you love, give lots of hugs, and be glad that if all else is total shit that the sun will be out for 4 seconds longer tomorrow!
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