Keep the winter blahs away by finding the beauty of the season

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By: Rachel Shenk

When February arrives, I feel that winter has sunk its teeth in and will not let go. Spring is just a dream out there somewhere.

Right now, I tire of the dirty, polluted piles of snow at every corner, the dismal sky that turns from grey to lighter grey, the impossibly icy sidewalks, the never ending cold that requires extra layers of clothing each time I cross the threshold to the outside.

I’m hunkering down alright, but each new announcement of snow or falling temperatures tests my patience.

Today, we walk along the path, our dog in tow, well wrapped against the bitter northwestern wind. A hawk flies above, catching the gusts as it scans the ground for food.

The cold air hits me, and my mind goes blank, cleared of any thoughts but making it through this frozen landscape. Now, a few hours later, here I sit, warm again beside the stove. And I’m thinking again.

If old man winter is here to stay, I better make the most of it. I’ll keep the winter blahs at bay with activity.

This year, I’m following a suggestion from my sister and knitting a sky scarf. When she comes to visit, a bag of yarn and a set of knitting needles come with her.

Over the years, her hands have touched countless embroidery threads, weaving, crocheting and knitting yarns. Cotton, wool and everything in between turn into art pieces in her hands. Cloth becomes a horse; cotton becomes a doily; muslin becomes a doll. Yarn turns into hats and mittens. Her hands have worked through many settings, homes and situations, always producing a beautiful end result.

All of those pieces might have stories to tell if they could speak. But to me, they speak of love and beauty amidst our broken world.

And so it is with this sky scarf. Every day, I knit the colour of the sky into it and as winter goes along, the multiple rows of grey against the white, soft blue and bright blue that pop up every now and then help me find the beauty of winter.

Plans for a new trip to the south of France help me along also. And let’s not forget the kitchen. With Valentine’s Day Saturday and Fat Tuesday about here, it’s time to indulge and bake the winter blues away.

Here is a recipe I grew up with and helped my mother make. It’s easy, delicious and it looks fancy. And it will make you forget that spring is still a few long weeks away.

SPONGE CAKE ROLL WITH RICH CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Ganache:

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. semisweet good quality chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups heavy cream

Directions

  1. Heat cream in pan on stovetop. Put chocolate chips in a bowl.
  2. When cream is hot, pour one third over the chips, stirring them to melt. Do this two more times, reheating cream each time.
  3. Stir the chocolate then let it sit, stirring every now and then. Let sit and thicken while you work on the cake. It needs to be the consistency of frosting.

Cake:

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. cream

Directions

  1. Place parchment paper on baking pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In mixing bowl, beat eggs for 2 minutes or until they thicken and look lemon colored. Slowly beat in sugar. Beat another minute. Beat in flour and baking powder, then vanilla and cream.
  3. Pour onto parchment paper. It will not cover the whole pan.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, turning the pan once, until golden.
  5. While it’s baking, take a clean dishcloth and spread it on the counter. Sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar. When the cake is done, turn it over onto the prepared dishcloth. Carefully peel off the parchment paper and starting on the narrower side, roll the cake up into the cloth. Let cool on a rack.
  6. When cool, unroll, spread with the chocolate ganache, and roll back up. Trim off ends. Slice into half-inch pieces and serve with real whipped cream.
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