The woods at Hunger Mountain in Monterey Massachusetts were pristine and quiet. The light reflecting on the snow made beautiful patterns. I stood very still and listened intently; the only sound I heard was a small twin engine plane flying overhead. I thought how quiet it must have been before the intrusive cacophony of cars, airplanes and trucks-perhaps this is why lutes, guitars, harpsichords, flutes and recorders were intuitively crafted to play with a softer delicate timbre?
A friend recently lent me her beautifully handcrafted Irish Shilelagh and it made much easier to stomp up and down the snowy trails. This sturdy little walking stick could also be an over sized conductor’s baton! Hunger Mountain loops around a massive outcropping of rock that has many crooks and crannies. Last summer while hiking here, Paul almost stumbled upon a big black bear ahead of him on the path! Walking the other day in the crisp cold air, I imagined the black bears safely hibernating in their snuggly rock caves around us!
A few days before the recent Nor’ Easter, we took a walk at the Ashintully Gardens in Tryingham, Massachusetts that is run by The Trustees of Reservations.
The day was grey and misty and also beautifully still. As we walked through the fields of the estate, enjoying the silence and solitude, we could hear the distant bells of the Visitation Monastery announcing the noon hour. The order of The Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary is a few miles away. According to the description of the order, “it is a cloistered contemplative order that strives to be a gentle presence in a world threatened by terrorism and war”. So appropriate for our times!
Hiking up a small hill we saw the ruins of the old Marble Palace poking stoically through the woods. All that remains of the original mansion that was destroyed in a tragic fire in 1915 are four stone columns.
Today we decided to return to Hunger Mountain to take some pictures of the rock outcroppings and caves. After the climate change freak rainstorm and warm weather that we recently had, almost all of the snow had melted and the landscape looked completely different.
Because so much snow was gone, we could clearly see the cave openings-very exciting!!
Ice made beautiful and unusual formations around the rocks and cave openings. Some the of the icicles reminded me of organ pipes.
Then it was time to go home for some hot chocolate and warm up in front of the woodstove!
Here is a lively Spanish Christmas Carol, played on my alto recorder, “Dadme albricias, hijos d’Eva” (“Sons of Eve, Bring Glad Tidings”); a fitting ending to 2020, a most challenging year!
The piece is part of a collection of anonymous carols from 15th century Spain that were compiled in Venice in 1556.
AND, we should end the year with a sweet! Almond Orange Biscotti-perfect with espresso or dipped into gelato! This recipe is adapted from The Smitten Kitchen, an excellent food blog by Deb Perelman. I used whole wheat pastry and whole grain spelt flour. Instead of using the recipe’s 1 1/2 cups of sugar, I substituted 3/4 cup of coconut sugar which has a very low glycemic index. I also added Lily’s Dark Chocolate Baking Chips that are stevia sweetened- the biscotti are almost guilt free, although a bit addicting! They are also easy to make and the recipe is large, so there is also now a bag in the freezer to be enjoyed at a later date!!
Almond Orange Biscotti
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups whole grain spelt flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks)unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest (try to use an organic orange)
1 cup whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Lily’s Dark Chocolate Stevia Baking Chips
1 large egg white
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.
Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, orange juice and zest in a large bowl.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir with wooden spoon until
well blended. Mix in almonds. At this point, I used both hands to mix everything together!
Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape two 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch wide logs. Transfer both logs to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them apart.
Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until foamy; brush over top and sides of each log.
Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack about 20 minutes.
Maintain oven temperature.
Transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2 wide slices. My bread knife worked well here.
Arrange slices, cut side down, on same baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Turn
biscotti over; bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.
AND, of course here is “The Tree of the Week”!
We will look forward to 2021 and hopefully a better year! Happy New Year and Please be Safe!!