I hope your Christmas season was happy and peaceful.
Mine was fun, satisfying on many levels and, at times, downright joyful. To be with family for the Christmas season is what it’s all about for me, so this year’s celebration was programmed for success from the beginning. We even got to talk briefly to cousins spending the season in Dubai with part of their family.
So, now what’s ahead? For lots of us, it’s that annual look forward to a fresh, unmarked new year. There’s something about the chance to write one’s own history that’s compelling. No more so than at the start of the year.
How will I pencil in my corner of the year 2014, if I can manage the self-discipline to do so? Let’s start out with health issues: simply put, I’d like to eat less and better. I know what and how much to eat and I have another shot at it in the new year. Sounds doable, right? We’ll see.
Procrastination continues to nip at my heels. I’ll have to make a strong effort not to “put off until tomorrow what can be done today.” Tomorrows have a way of accumulating. I’ll try harder to figure it out in 2014.
I’ll do the best I can to be kind and thoughtful; to do no harm to another person; to practice patience; and to continue to love those whom others sometimes find unlovable. Make no mistake, however, I don’t expect to achieve perfection. After all how boring would that be?
Speaking from a culinary point of view, I’m going to ring out the old and ring in the new with something healthy that I happen to really like — a side dish of fennel. The slight anise flavor of fresh fennel can perk up any plain meat or fish entrée. Here’s to good eating in 2014.
4 fennel bulbs, quartered lengthwise
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 cups day-old whole wheat bread crumbs
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Cook the fennel in a pan of boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drain the fennel and place in a large, shallow ovenproof baking dish.
In a small bowl, mix together the chopped garlic, bread crumbs and parsley, then stir in half of the olive oil.
Brush the fennel with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the top, then season well with salt and pepper. Place the dish in the hot oven.
Bake the fennel for about 30 minutes, or until it is tender and the bread crumb topping is crisp and golden brown. Serve the baked fennel hot, garnished with a few fronds of fennel leaves, if desired.