Sunday, December 2, 2007


At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, an image of unutterable conviction, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being--the reward he seeks--the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, to make his life prevail through his creation, to wreak the vision of his life, the rude and painful substance of his own experience, into the congruence of blazing and enchanted images that are themselves the core of life, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed, the kernel of eternity.
Thomas Wolfe

December sees many cultures and religions embracing a celebration of some sorts, most often related to a theme of eternal being and renewal. I also embrace this month as a time of magic, of renewal and my connection to the eternal. I hope to share these things this year with colleagues, family, friends and the occasional persons who read my blog through what I see through the eye of my camera, music and recipes of this season.

Last Sunday I caught this tree in a ghost town. I hope to capture more moments in the coming nights and share them in the spirit of the quote above from Thomas Wolfe.

I made this from "Natural Health to satisfy a sweet tooth I'm having and to use seasonal fruit:

Fresh and Dried Cranberry, Orange, and Walnut Tart

Serves 10

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or white all-purpose flour (or a mixture of both)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or maple sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
7 tablespoons cold butter or butter substitute, cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons cold water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tart Filling
1 cup dried cranberries
1 orange
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
juice of 1 orange
1 cup light brown sugar, maple sugar, or Sucanat
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon orange liquor or orange flower water
Recipe Note: The one problem with cranberries is they need lots of sugar to be palatable. This tart lessens that need by mixing fresh or frozen cranberries with sweeter dried cranberries and walnuts.
1. To make the crust, place the flour, sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, and orange zest in a food processor; pulse just to combine. Add the butter; pulse until the butter is broken up into pieces the size of baby peas. Drizzle in the water-vanilla mixture, and pulse until large, moist-looking crumbs have formed.

2. Pour the crumbs onto a clean surface and gather them in your hand. If there is any dry flour left, work it into the dough with a few more drops of water. Gently shape the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk; wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator; roll out into a 10-inch round, then drape into a 9-inch tart pan. Use your fingers to build up the sides so they're about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to the freezer. Preheat oven to 375*F.

4. To make the filling, cover the dried cranberries with warm water; set aside. Using a citrus zester, remove several strands of zest from the orange; set the zest aside. Peel the orange, section it into eighths, then thinly slice the sections crosswise. When you're ready to start cooking, drain the dried cranberries.

5. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the drained dried cranberries, fresh or frozen cranberries, orange slices, orange juice, and sugar or Sucanat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the cranberries have popped and released their juices, about 12 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, and flour; cook for 1 more minute, then stir in the walnuts. Remove from heat.

6. Set the frozen tart shell, still in the tart pan, on a sheet pan. Spoon the tart filling into the shell, then smooth the top. Dot the butter over the filling, and decorate the top with strands of orange zest. Cover lightly with parchment or foil. Bake in the center of the oven until the crust is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Remove, then spoon orange liquor or orange flower water over the top. Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche, if desired.

Nutrition Facts Per serving: 357 calories, 40% fat (16.5 g; 6 g saturated), 55% carbohydrate (51 g), 5% protein (5 g), 4 g fiber, 48 mg calcium, 1.8 mg iron, 102 mg sodium.

Mediaeval Baebes, "I Am Eve":

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