A “New” Feast Day: Saint Sunniva

By , July 10, 2015

I learned Wednesday that July 8th is the feast day of Saint Sunniva. The name caught my attention because our new solar array is comprised of Suniva brand (one N) panels (see Power Shift: The  Plan in Place). Saint Sunniva apparently was a Norse “solar maiden” called Sunna, thinly Christianized as a saint. I now know where the brand name comes from.

As I’ve confessed before, we welcome the slightest opportunities to celebrate; observing Saint Sunniva Day seems particularly appropriate for our “homestead”.

As it happened, we didn’t do anything special. Michelle got called into work at a friend’s touring company until late. However, even though we didn’t know about Saint Sunniva then, the day before could have served well as a feast day for this particular entity.

Iron pot scones in the Sun Oven (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Iron pot scones in the Sun Oven (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We took advantage of the sunny day to make iron pot scones in the Sun Oven (see the recipe in Feeling Sconish). Michelle added a lot of garden greens and tomatoes to the dough for a hearty lunch. After they finished baking, we left the oven out on the beach as we often do, just in case.

Later that afternoon, as the tide rose, I fished off the rocks. A large Dolly Varden char struck at my lure a couple of times on the first cast, then disappeared. Within minutes it returned, rising suddenly from the depths at my feet to hit the hook hard. A minute later I landed a fat, sleek, 18 inch Dolly hen. Michelle brought a cutting board and kettle of water down to the beach. By the time I’d cleaned it, she stood ready with a pan, foil, a few spears of Egyptian walking onions from the garden, and a shaker of spices.

We moved the oven out to where the sun still shone on our rocks despite the encroaching shadows, and put the fish inside. The sun moved fairly quickly behind the higher side of the ridge, so we sat on the rocks tending the oven, moving it when necessary. I brought down a plastic carafe of homemade wine and a couple of plastic glasses. Michelle found a bag of chips left over from Independence Day, and we sat and snacked while we watched the shadows progress.

Baked fish a la soleil (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Baked fish a la soleil (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We moved the oven completely three times, chasing the changing sun patches, but it didn’t take long for the fish to reach the prescribed baked temperature (125-135° F). Michelle worried that the longer cooking time might have dried it out, but it stayed moist and succulent in the oven. We paired it with a fresh garden salad and the rest of the homemade wine. We surely feasted well enough to honor Saint Sunniva the next day. And, appropriately, we baked the fish using the sun, the first time we’ve done that, incidentally—a fitting tribute to a solar maiden, no matter how obscure.

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