Before the night is out many a cheerful glass of champagne will be raised to toast the arrival of the new year and fondly send off the year just past.
I love this global celebration of time. This night dedicated to reflection and optimism. Stripping away the arbitrary pressure of resolutions, there seems something very special indeed about a night where a ripple of optimism makes its way around the globe. Behind the bubbles, the sparkles and tinsel is the brightness of positivism, the buoyancy of happiness. However, Its not just about the exhilaration of looking to the year ahead, but also about finding the silver linings in the year we have just finished. In a world that constantly encourages us to reach ahead, to move forward with an ever fervered pace, I can’t help but relish the moments to glance back. To turn around to see, in plain view, the path the year has cut sprawling out behind me, twisting and winding to me to the exact spot I’m standing when the hands point to twelve.
It has been a good year all in all but a quick one. In truth 2016 has felt like a year on the run. A year of constant and perpetual motion. One of uprooting and re-rooting but with that has come growth of course and uncertainty. We started 2016 on the other side of the world and now it will come to a close in the quietest of ways. At home, with family and friends which has emerged as a common theme for this past year – around the table, around the fire. I hope this serenity will carry forward into 2017. Isn’t that the old adage, to begin as you mean to go on ? There are a million things I could prattle on about here but they all seem to point back to the same word and that is gratitude. I am grateful for this one crazy life, with all its imperfections, with all the lessons I have learned – the hard way and otherwise – for the people I have met along the way this year. For this creative community which everyday affords me a space to create and make and play and share with all of you. Thank you, to all of you who read this blog, look at the images I make and follow along on this creative exploration as I go. I am grateful for each of you. And, I am looking forward to a calmer, permanent and most serene 2017. One where I can watch the light with a sharper eye and taste the seasons more acutely through the things that grow in the garden and gardens of my neighbors. My hope is to continue to simplify, to reject the unnecessary, to stay true to ideas of directness, intention, provenience and paring back in order to better enjoy the cadence of it all.
Of course the new year should be ushered in not just with ideas but also with plenty of celebration. And nothing goes with celebration better than good company a good bottle of bubbles and plenty of good foods. I have fallen hard for the beautiful new cheese from Vermont Creamery. With its beautiful downy white bloomy rind the St. Albans is everything I could ever want in a cheese. Delicious all on its own or as I do here, heated so that it becomes a gooey, creamy divine little puddle. The candied satsuma peel brings just an extra touch of sweetness and acid and the combination when paired with a glass of champagne is swoon worthy.
There is just a touch of sherry added to the peel to bring the whole thing an earthier note. I like Savory & James creamed sherry. Its balanced and has a well-rounded sweetness that keeps it from being sickly.
While the satsuma are not the easiest to peel – I had use about 8 to 10 to get the desired quarter cup – they are so worth it in the end. As their skin is much more fine and less structured than an orange you likely won’t be able to peel the entire fruit before it falls apart. But they make for great snacking while you are prepping the recipe or put them in a little bowl and offer them up for guests.
Baked St. Alban’s Cheese with Candied Satsuma Peel
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 1/4 cup satsuma mandarin peel
- 2 Vermont Creamery St. Alban’s Cheeses
- Crusty baguette for serving
- preheat oven to 375
- place water and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, add satsuma peel and reduce heat to low.
- Reduce liquid down until the pan is almost dry and the peel has firmed up. approximately 15 minutes. Stir occasionally taking care not to burn the sugars.
- Add sherry and turn pan back up to medium. Cook off the alcohol and reduce the sherry down until it is thick and syrupy. approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes
- Place the two St. Alban’s cheeses on a tray in the preheated oven. Bake until the top bubbles up slightly. approximately 8 minutes
- Using great care, arrange the heated cheeses on a platter and spoon the candied rind over the top of each (if the rind has hardened too much simply place if back over the heat for a few minutes until it has softened)
- serve immediately with slices of rustic baguette