Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hope of Spring

All around is white, but the sky is blue and the sun is still shining at nearly 5pm! The temperature is a decent 22 F. It's just early February but the hope of Spring is in the air. Each week the days will stretch a little bit. The temperature will continue to fluctuate, but at least the amount of daylight will continue to grow and we'll hold on to the assurance that Winter does NOT last forever.

Again nature, specifically the seasons, give such a picture of the spiritual reality. When in our darkest moments in life, the moment you're sure you can't go on unless you can see something to give you hope, the very next moment there's a glimmer of light. A tiny bit more light than you had before, just enough to remind you that the darkness will not--cannot--last forever. Spring is on it's way. Nothing will stop it's coming. No amount of snow, ice or arctic temperatures can deter the coming of Spring.

The darkness does not remain forever.

Take hope in this, fellow journeyman/journeywoman, neither storm nor winter lasts forever. God is in control and He will bring you through the darkness into the light. Sadness, sorrow, grief, discouragement will give way to hope. With God there is always hope. And hope does not disappoint as the Scripture says.

I don't know, maybe I'm in the mood for oranges recently. They seem so sunny, so cheery in the middle of winter. So here's a salad with oranges from Lunds & Byerly's Real Food, Spring 2010 magazine. See Lunds & Byerly's online and go to their "Recipes & Expertise" section for more great recipes like this one.

Orange and Shaved-Fennel Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Cheese Curls

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
1/2 cup red onion, sliced thin in vertical strips
2 large (or 4 small) oranges, peeled, white pith removed, but either in segments or into 1/4-inch thick slices
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp fincely chopped fern-like fennel tops
pinch of course salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
2 ounce wedge Pecorino Romano or Asiago cheese

1. Using a sharp hand-held vegetable slicer or the slicing blade of a food processor, cut the fennel bulb into thin cross-wise slices. There should be about two cups packed. Place the fennel and the onion in a large bowl, cover with water, and add ice cubes. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain well and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.

2. Arrange orange slices in a single layer on a large platter or four individual salad plates. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil and top each with a generous grinding of black pepper.

3. Toss the fennel and onions in a bowl with two tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice, and one tablespoon of the fennel tops. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper. Mound in the center of the orange slices.

4. To toast walnuts: Add to a small dry skillet and cook over low heat, stirring until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.

5. Use a vegetable peeler or cheese plane to cut thin curls of cheese from the wedge and arrange on top of the salad. Sprinkle with walnuts and remaining chopped fennel tops and serve.

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