The snow falls softly, in soft vertical lines, outside my window. That is a rarity for coastal New England where snow hardly ever falls gently, landing quietly on the grass and covering the bare spots in the garden. Instead, snow is likely to blow in wild, horizontally gusts, piling up in drifts, leaving some spots in the garden stark naked, bending and snapping the leafless lilacs. Sometimes, it finds tiny cracks in the attic, rattles the windows, and whips up the ocean into fierce waves. A snowfall around here is not often peaceful, that is until after the storm, when by contrast a stillness falls over everything, the Currier & Ives view.
But today is different. Our little village held its annual tree-lighting ceremony last night. The merchants have decked out their shops and are welcoming everyone hot cider and cocoa and cookies. Artist display their watercolors and oils; craftspeople display their holiday ornaments and handknit scarves and mittens. Lobstermen welcome Santa at the dock and parade him and the Mrs. through the streets. I’m about to walk into that magical setting where carolers sing on every corner, snowflakes tickling their tongues.
When the sun goes down and the streets are lit like a fairytale, I’ll slowly walk home to prepare dinner. There are some nice fat sweet potatoes waiting to go into the oven and fill the house with the aromas of a winter night. I have a pork tender waiting in the meat drawer. I’ll butterfly it, then stuff and roast. I’ll just use whatever I find in the fridge, maybe some gouda cheese and roasted red peppers from a jar. Or maybe I’ll add some chopped apples, celery, and walnuts to one of those bags of stuffing mix that I overbought for a 30 pound turkey last week. Then I’ll roll and tie it, anoint the outside with olive oil and roast until the cheese is all melt-y or the stuffing is poking out the ends and all caramelized (and of course the temperature is 160F). Maybe we’ll light a fire in the fireplace and move the coffee table in front of it. I’ll spare myself baking and pick up a chocolate cake at a specialty store. It’s a good day to celebrate.
COOKING NOTE: A pork tender will cook thoroughly in about 20 to 25 minutes in a 400F degree convection oven.