Oh February. I think perhaps Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall sums up my feelings best when he says, “I hate February.” Am I being a bit hard on this poor month? It’s just that, February is the point when winter really starts to lose its charm, when the seasonal motionlessness starts to make one feel, well, just a wee bit stagnant, dare I say despondent even. It’s the month when I find myself feeling like a runner in the last few miles of a marathon – weary and worn to the bone, wanting nothing more than to stop and be seduced by the sensation of giving in – but for that small prospect of the other side – that voice that against all reason bids you to keep putting one foot in front of the other and finish the job, step by step. Along with the inertia of busyness and movement, it’s that other side – that very faint glimpse of spring sunshine way up there in the distance, that keeps one from sinking down into that desperately dark winter abyss which lingers like death’s shadow throughout every day of February.
So I keep moving. I write to do lists (my planner will assert that February is the month I make more to-do lists than any other), I force myself to walk outside, close my eyes and thrust my face up towards the sun (which while not necessarily warm, still seems to hold the suggestion of warmth) and I consume copious quantities of chocolate and other such foods, full of starchy, fatty, gooey and other such qualities that seem to temporarily warm the soul and block out the wickedness of cold grey days. Yes, my pants might fit just a bit tighter by the end of the month, but it doesn’t matter so long as I get to the end of this month. I’ll do what I have to do. The warmer, longer days of March will help to ease the emotional and physical baggage that February has piled on, melting it away like the frozen crust of snow.
The other saving grace to endure the hardships of February, is a half-gallon jar filled with Strawberries picked this past June, that I hide in the very back unreachable shadows of the freezer expressly for the purpose of finding them this month. If I notice those little scarlet nuggets of June sweetness in, say November, I quickly turn away and pile another bag of frozen peas in front of them. They are my February life line. And for some reason, I tend to like to eat them with bananas in some form – which I think stems from a desire for something tropical and sweet, to vaguely fulfill my desire to go someplace tropical and sweet. Strawberries and bananas. A breath of sweetness into a dull grey day, if ever there were one. Especially when chocolate is thrown in too. It’s like someone picked me up and carried me a few days closer to spring.
Chocolate yogurt puddings with strawberries, bananas and cocoa nibs
If you don’t happen to have the luxury of a frozen mason jar of June strawberries – make note to do this for next year, and buy some frozen ones at the store, or in a pinch, thin out some strawberry jam in a pan with a little water and use this to drizzle over the top. Serves 2.
- 1 cup Greek style yogurt
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste + another tablespoon for the strawberries
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 banana
- 2 tablespoons of cocoa nibs
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the yogurt with the cocoa powder, maple syrup and a very small pinch of salt. Depending on your sweetness threshold, you may with to add more or less of the maple syrup – I like to add just a little glug at a time until it tastes just right.
Place the strawberries in a small saucepan with a drizzle of maple syrup and a teaspoon or two of water. Heat until the strawberries are completely thawed but still retaining some shape, and the sauce is just beginning to thicken in the pan – about 5 minutes. You may need to add a little more syrup depending on how sweet your strawberries are.
Divide the yogurt into two bowls. Slice the banana over the top, into thin rounds. Divide the strawberries between the two bowls and drizzle the sauce over the top, then finish with a sprinkling of cocoa nibs.