December 2010
The Herb Farm

Bring Life Inside For Winter Solstice

It’s coming up on the time of year for me to hibernate for the winter. Typically, during this time of year, I am ready to head for warmer weather. It seems the older I get, the more I appreciate a warm winter beach and a spiced rum toddy by an open fire.

Winter Solstice is upon us and the shorter daylight hours remind me it’s time to celebrate life by allowing all living things to rest. It is time to bring inside the things reminding us of the good things that lie ahead for us in the coming months.

That old tune, "Deck the Halls," is a traditional Yuletide song written about just the thing I am writing about. Though I’m not one for singing when people are around, my cats and dogs don’t seem to mind and it helps to while away the hours of darkness and long shadowed days.

A few large branches of American Holly (Ilex opaca) will make a nice centerpiece for your buffet and dining table. Smaller branches neatly arranged on the fireplace mantles look good as well. If the berries aren’t yet red and ripe on your hollies, mix in some branches and berries of nandina (Nandina domestica). Place large columnar candles throughout your greenery to add life to your decorations. Even at night, when I’m sitting here alone reading with the house creatures, it’s nice to have a candle or two burning for ambience.

Cedar branches and bowls of cedar chips add a pleasant aroma to any old farmhouse and the décor wouldn’t be complete without a bough of mistletoe full of berries hanging in the kitchen…just in case.

Saving the rinds from recently harvested satsumas and Meyer lemons in the refrigerator for use in spiced potpourri concoctions is always a good idea. Add them to cinnamon sticks and allspice berries, and simmer them on the top of the wood burning stove or add the simmered liquid to hot tea for a relaxing evening drink.

To top off the Winter Solstice evening, I bake a few of my favorite cookies to enjoy.

Here is my Winter Solstice gift to you. Enjoy the cookies on the shortest day of the year, for tomorrow brings more light, prosperity and good cheer.

Herb Farmer’s Winter Solstice Cookie

1 c sugar
1 c peanut butter
1 c rolled oats
1 egg
½ c raisins
½ c semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ c white chocolate chips
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp mace

Mix egg, sugar, peanut butter and oats. Add raisins and chocolate chips. Sprinkle cinnamon and mace (freshly ground nutmeg will substitute okay) over top and mix well.

Use small (1" size) melon baller to scoop cookie dough. Place balls on ungreased baking sheet and press with thumb to about 3/8" thick. Bake at 350° for about 12-15 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove from baking sheet and place onto cooling rack. Yields about 60 cookies.

Share and eat.

Variations (one or more):
½ c macadamia nuts
¼ c almonds, sliced
¼ c walnuts, chopped
¼ c pecans, chopped

Enjoy the Yule!

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Thanks for reading!

Be sure to find me on Facebook at: Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm.

As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.