December 21

 

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

 

Darkest Day of the year

 

Winter is here, the December solstice marks the longest nights and shortest days of the year! The solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun. One interesting fact: it’s the longest noontime shadow of the year, so be sure to look at your shadow.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for the cycle of seasons and for the sun, the moon, and the stars. Dear Lord please help me with my struggles during this time of darkness, show me the beauty and wonder of your creation. Please help me to embrace my appreciation of the night by taking time to enjoy its quiet splendor. May I find rest and peace for my mind, body, and soul during this time. As morning breaks, let me slow down and see the beauty into the day. May I take a moment to appreciate the gathering light and in its luminous grace. Strengthen my heart to recognize your presence in both the dark of night and the light of day. In your most holy name, I pray. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe:

Persian winter-solstice tradition or Shab-e Yalda, the night of Yalda or rebirth of the sun, on this night, it is customary to gather with loved ones and eat mixed dried nuts and fruits such as pomegranate, watermelon, and persimmon.

Fesenjan

Ingredients

  • 1½ large yellow onion sliced thin and fried golden brown

  • 3-4 tablespoon vegetable oil (or 5 ounces fried onions)

  • 2 pounds skinless chicken drumsticks or thighs (4-5 pieces)

  • 8 ounces walnut halves (about 2 cups)

  • ¼ cup cold water

  • 1 cup pomegranate concentrate

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

  • Pomegranate seeds for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or more, to taste)

 

Directions

  1. Place the walnuts into a food processor and process until it turns to a tan-colored paste.

  2. With the food processor running add ¼ cup cold water. Continue processing until the paste becomes uniformly beige in color.

  3. Fry the sliced onions with 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil in a 6 quart stockpot until golden brown. Remove from the pot.

  4. Add chicken to the same stockpot and top it with the fried onions.

  5. Spoon the walnut paste evenly over the fried onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  6. Drizzle the pomegranate concentrate over all the ingredients, and add the sugar if you prefer a sweeter-tasting stew.

  7. Bring to a boil over medium heat. The pomegranate concentrate tends to stick and burn fairly quickly so avoid high heat (or deglaze with some water if needed).

  8. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

  9. Now reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for an additional 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is fork tender and falls off the bone. Stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure the sauce does not stick to the pot. If at the end of this time period the sauce has not thickened enough, leave the pot uncovered for about 10 minutes on low heat for a thicker sauce. Transfer the Fesenjan to a serving dish and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top as garnish. Season to taste if needed.

  10. Serve over white Persian Steamed rice!

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