Winter comes in with a lot of excitement around here for Hanukkah - a great food holiday! Long long ago, long before the Maccabees and their oil lamps, Hanukkah was the celebration of the olive oil harvest in late November, and that's how we keep it at my house. Like other Jews around the world, we eat foods fried in olive oil at this time - especially delicious vegetable latkes.
Once we've eaten plenty of latkes, we turn to Christmas. We don't eat a lot of meat, but we usually have slow-cooked roast beef for Christmas dinner, along with brussels sprouts, Jamaican potatoes, and chestnut stuffing. We have a nice gooey chocolate cake for dessert, or a Buche de Noel.
Just a week later, it's New Year's Day, and time for black-eyed peas and rice. Yum! Then for Twelfth Night, you can make a King Cake, and now you have the rest of January without food holidays, and you'll have time to make cassoulet, moussaka, Moroccan lamb stew, and squash risotto. Broccoli and cauliflower are still good in winter too: you can make lentil cauliflower stew, or throw some chopped broccoli into fried rice with tofu. Before you know it, it will be February and you'll make chocolate truffles and chocolate mousse for Valentine's Day, and then hamentaschen and rugelach and maybe some cheese blintzes for Purim.
Still, there's a reason they have Lent in February - it's because there's nothing much to eat in February that the seasonal eater hasn't already been eating for months and gotten tired of. It's always hard to think of what to make for dinner in February and especially in March. But this is a good time for eating lots of fish, grated carrots, cole slaw, beet slaw, vegetable soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, turnips gratin, and spaghetti and pizza with that tomato sauce and pesto you froze last summer. By the time you're done making all of those, it will finally be spring!