Leftovers can be a masterpiece, the second or third chapter of a story told by animals, plants, farmers, recipes, strangers and ghosts. Here is a sloppy slab of Friday’s feast turned into Saturday afternoon supper. A rough pie crust made with butter, flour, and ice water. I lined a small casserole dish and filled the inside with chicken, squash, potatoes, onion, and gravy. The most comforting of comfort foods, that.
The leftovers were a result of Friday's Dinner. I got to prepare and host a farmhouse meal for good friends I usually spend Christmas with, but they’re heading to be with their grandchildren in California this year (which sounds so darling I’m happy as a jay about it) but they always host me for Yuletide, and this year I made sure to return the favor with a decent meal prepared here before they venture west.
I put one of the birds raised here this summer in my rotisserie after treating it with an herb/butter rub. I chopped, seasoned, and drizzled olive oil over butternut squash from the garden, roasted alongside potatoes and onions. I braided and baked an egg bread . I served apple cider from the farm’s apples. Nothing was fancy, but the flavors and stories spilled out as we ate.
The story of the chickens, raised here and then driven in a Ford Focus to be processed - stinking up the poor hatchback. The young man who got his compact car stuck in a ditch while foraging for roadside apples. How I helped him take apples from the good trees on the sheep hill while he waited for a tow, and brought back the bottle as a thank you. The butt nutts in a basket under the kitchen table, how they overcame an entire garden by August. The bread, quietly braided without a song in the farmhouse.
All of it shared - in story and fork - among family you’d do anything for during the darkest time of the year. This is why we have holidays now. Why we keep rebranding old celebrations with new deities to be born with the solstice sunrise- because just like Goethe’s last words, all any of us want is “More Light.”
We feasted and when the meal was over ate slices of pear tart from their own tree while watching episodes of River Cottage by the fire. The tart was perfect, not too sweet.
And the next day there was chicken pie, then chicken stock, then there will be soups, or beans, or rice cooked in broth and the story continues. The chicken that was raised here in a farmhouse, moved outside to brave the mountain hillsides, ate and ate more, and slept in a little coop built by a team of people I love. And then here it still is, feeding me, telling me its story. Still here after all the changes and lives reshelving where souls go.
This is the work and life that brings me meaning. May I make it another year, if Brigit still wants me under her mantle and the winter is gentle I think I will make it, again.