11 November 2010

11 November - St. Martin; Veterans Day; Taurids; Washington

Astronomy: North Taurid Meteor Shower tonight and tomorrow night, with anywhere from 3 to 10 shooting stars.  The best time for viewing is after midnight when the constellation Taurus is at its highest point in the night sky.  Face south and look up to find Taurus.
If All Saints Day brings out the winter, St. Martin's Day will bring out Indian summer.
If Martinmas is fair, dry, and cold, the cold in winter will not last long.  Well, hooray!  Today was bright and chilly, so maybe winter won't be so awfully cold.
If the wind is in the south-west at Martinmas, it will remain there until after Christmas.
This is traditionally the time of Saint Martin's Summer, better known here as Indian Summer. Hasn't failed yet.  While Saint Martin's Day was cold, the following days have been gorgeous weather - warm, sunny, A GIFT!
Today is the feast of Saint Martin of Tours, the Apostle of Gaul, the Roman soldier turned bishop.  Most people recognize him as the soldier who divided his cloak to cover a beggar; here Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira moves beyond this typical depiction of Saint Martin to his real purpose.

Today, traditionally, the wines of the season are first tasted (and of course, one taste is never enough, is it?), which make nice accompaniments to the traditional dinners of Roast Goose or Black Pudding.  Remember to ask Saint Martin to dine with you, by sharing your dinner with someone who has nothing to eat.

Catholic Culture has more celebrations of this popular saint's day, including a cookie called "Saint Martin's Horseshoes", an easy recipe, and one that will keep the children busy forming the 'horseshoes'. 
In the United States, this is also Veterans Day (in Canada, Remembrance Day) formerly Armistice Day, when the guns fell silent, marking the end of the World War, the War to End All Wars.  Pause for two minutes at the eleventh hour - 11:00 am - to remember those who have served their countries - and vow to make sure that the guns really do fall silent.
Today, in 1889, the State of Washington, formerly Washington Territory, was admitted to the union as the 42nd state.

Known as the Evergreen State, and for good reason, as anyone who has visited Seattle for any amount of time 'knows' - it rains.  A lot.  However, mosey east over the Cascade Mountains, and you'll find that it is less green, and has much less rain.  Quite a difference between the two.

Washington has always been known for its apples and for the sweet Walla Walla onion; celebrate the state and Saint Martin by having a SAVORY APPLE STUFFING with your roast goose:

Peel and dice enough tart apples to make 4 cups [4 to 8 apples, depending on size].

In another bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon each of ground sage, marjoram, and thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper.  Set aside.

Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a pan.  Saute 1/2 cup of chopped celery (leaves as well), 1 chopped onion [Walla Walla sweet onion, if you can get it; yellow onion if you want something more pungent], and 2 tablespoons of minced parsley in the butter for 5 minutes.  Add the diced apples and the sugar/seasonings mixture.  Cook for 5 minutes longer.  Stir in 2 cups of toasted bread crumbs and mix well. 

Washington also claims to have 'the perfect climate for wine'. [That is as maybe, says this Californian]  To accompany the main course tonight, how about something from Goose Ridge Vineyards and Estate Winery.