I don’t know about you, but I’m wrestling with the seasons–the transition from one to the next, specifically. To be honest, I love winter. This time around, in particular.
As I traded my debit card for a double-shot almond milk latte at the drive-thru the other day, the barista and I bantered about the dark mornings and the hope of brighter dawns in the months to come. As he expressed his desire for those–the intensity evident in his whole being–I realized that it’s not the darkness of the winter mornings that I mind so much. It’s the expectation that we mere mortals wake with the same readiness to enter the new day no matter the light and the season. In fact, I think that if modern life afforded us a slower, more graceful and gentle pace that the dimness of a winter morning could be received with a sort of gratitude, a way to ease into the day with a cozy mug of something warm, a flickering candle, a journal, and book, and the requisite blanket to nuzzle into.
Cuddle time–that’s what my daughter calls it. While I appreciate the ability to ease into the morning before my family is awake, that’s a rare occurrence. And in the mornings not that long ago–before she claimed my morning time chair as her own and set up her own basket of journals, notebooks, and pens and display of sweet children’s books all around in the windows that flank it–I would tell myself as she ambled down the stairs, bleary-eyed with sleep but a smile radiating on her waking face, that it was a gift to have her cuddle there in that faux fur white blanket with me, that my morning time was not so sacred that it couldn’t be interrupted by my now-awake child. Rather–as I see it now–my morning time was actually sacred–and that’s why I could share it with her.
Today I’m enjoying the bright sunlight that is characteristic of many February days here in Seattle. I began noticing the way the crispness of late winter mingles with the brightness of the changing season many years ago, while in college, and February has been one of my favorite times of the year ever since. It’s also a time of tension–at least that’s how I see it at this moment, in 2020–as I eagerly anticipate the morning birdsong of spring while still longing for a little more time to enjoy cozy stews and nuzzle into the big, fluffy blankets that I’ll soon be tucking away until next winter.
So in honor of that tension, I’m sharing a recipe that honors both the essence of winter with its need for cozy meals and spring with its regard for fresh produce enjoyed raw and simply prepared. I created this recipe a couple of years back to accompany a cold-weather feast, and it’s been such a favorite of mine that I thought I might someday publish it in a cookbook of traditional Scandinavian and Nordic-inspired recipes. But as signs of spring begin to emerge, I realize there’s no point in keeping this one to myself until next winter, or whenever such a cookbook might emerge.
I hope that as you read the recipe that follows, you’ll do so with your grocery list in hand. The raw celeriac offers a delightful crunch that’s complemented by the creamy dressing. It’s at once fresh yet comforting. The only other things you’ll need to do are to prepare any steak or cozy roast of beef to serve as the main element of the meal, and then invite a friend or neighbor over to share it with you. The essence of a koselig kitchen. Enjoy.
Creamy Celeriac Salad with Horseradish, Parsley, and Nuts Kremet Sellerirot Salat med Pepperrot, Persille og Nøtter
1 large celeriac 1/2 cup sour cream 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup roughly chopped nuts (I love using macadamia nuts here, but feel free to use almonds or walnuts if you prefer) 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Trim the ends of the celeriac and cut off the outer peel. Cut into matchsticks, ideally using a mandolin.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, horseradish, and salt. Add the celeriac and stir to combine. Right before serving, add the chopped nuts and parsley, giving it a quick stir.