A few years ago, during a particularly dreary January, I decided that we should create a personal family holiday, and after some thought, I picked Ground Hogs Day. I didn’t realize at the time that lots of other people throughout history had the same thought: Embolc, St. Brigit’s Day, Candlemas and a lot of others I can’t pronounce. But in our house, February 2 is the Mid-Winter Feast and it has some of it’s own very peculiar customs starting with the food. We also invented a game: Pin the Shadow on the Ground Hog. And we enjoy best of winter dishes starting with the main course of meatloaf that has been shaped into a fairly recognizable groundhog, covered with pastry complete with little ears, eyes, a nose and tail. I’ve enclosed a picture of the most recent example.
My brother brings his famous mac-n-cheez. The recipe is a jealously guarded secret that I haven’t been able to duplicate. There’s winter sun cake (a rich yellow cake with coconut frosting), yummy spice bread from my daughter, crunchy cucumber-radish salad, deviled eggs, mulled white wine with pears, and this year wonderful ground-from-beans coffee from a new friend.
The Mid-Winter Feast is a statement of faith that spring really will come and it’s a chance to give thanks that we’re surviving the winter. Believe me, a week or two of -20 to – 30 windchills can seriously shake your confidence in the power of down jackets, and you’re grateful for all your blessings. So we get together, share our favorite wintertime dishes and talk about seed catalogs and gardening and what we’re going to do this summer. It makes the Long Dark seem a little less endless, even if we do still have to get through the annual Tournament Blizzard. I love you guys!