This year we weren’t dreaming of a White Christmas, we were having one! We have had snow on the ground for the past month or so, and although it wasn’t snowing on Christmas, it was beautiful, picturesque and quaint here on the homestead. Perfect for my mom who is visiting from Florida and hasn’t had a White Christmas for several years.
Although I don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, many people we know do, so we incorporate it into the 12 Days of Yule which begin on December 20th and ends on January 1st. The twelve days of Yule kicks off on December 20th, the night before the solstice, with Mother’s Night where we celebrate the divine feminine and our long line of female ancestors. I like to spend this night baking cookies and preparing foods that were dear to my ancestors, celebrating the long line of people who have contributed to making me who I am. This year I made Pfeffernusse Shortbread cookies to honor my newly found German heritage.
We always celebrate December 24th by setting out an offering of cookies and milk or eggnog for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
On December 25th we often have another feast dinner, a feast to share with family, having the same intensity of fanfare are the feast we have on the Winter Solstice. This year we had lamb. I have never been a fan of the Christmas Ham, and it has only been a few weeks since our last turkey feast. So for our own household tradition, we have lamb on this night.
This year’s lamb was a very special dish – it came from a lamb that Roberto and I butchered this fall. Since moving to Vermont we have bought meat very differently. We either buy whole animals locally or join farm meat CSAs. We have in our storage freezer, half a lamb, parts of a pig as well as beef, veal and poultry from our monthly CSA. This should get us through the winter, happy and deeply nourished.
For Christmas dinner we prepared the leg of lamb. I marinated it in a mixture of red wine, balsamic vinegar, yogurt, lemon juice and rosemary. I prepared it in my tagine and made a layer of fresh lemon slices on top. It was slow cooked at 350 F for 2 hours. Then I took the lid off to allow it to brown for about 15 minutes. We served it au jus. It was absolutely simple and the lamb was incredibly juicy and succulent.
We served it with glazed carrots and a brown rice risotto with fresh cranberries, wilted spinach, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.
It was a wonderful evening spent with family. Hope that all of my readers who celebrate the winter holidays are having a most wondrous time with your dear ones!
Wishing you all health, happiness and love this coming year – and of course full bellies!