Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Cozying Up For Winter

It's been brutally cold on the mountain top lately....yesterday I'm pretty sure my contact lenses froze to my eyeballs the second I stepped out the door. 

Those of you in warmer states probably don't understand, but we do get used to the frigid winters....and we learn to embrace winter on the mountain top.

It's all about dressing in layers, keeping the fire stoked and the firewood well stocked. I have multiple throws in my living room, and my bed is made up with my warmest LL Bean flannel bedding. The candles are lit, the music is soft, and the meals couldn't be better.


I plan my menus around warm, hearty meals...and on the coldest days those meals are something that's baked, rather than prepared on the stove top. 


I did a little meal prep this weekend, making a batch of chicken croquettes which I baked for Sunday's dinner, and a big batch of Pasta e Fagioli, half of which was to be Monday's dinner.....and half for the freezer.

Look at all the hearty goodness in there! It's rare for me, but I don't think I honestly changed anything about this recipe....if you would like to try it out, this is the recipe I used, from DamnDelicious.

Ok, I lied....I may have used a little extra pasta. The recipe called for 1 cup pasta, cooked separately from the soup. I cooked one cup, tossed it in a little butter, salt, and pepper....ate a few bites (maybe more than a few)....and put it in the fridge to put in the portion of the soup that was to be the next night's dinner. 

But hey, in my opinion you can never have too much pasta in Pasta e Fagioli! 

Yesterday was going to be an absolutely brutal day, so I decided that I would bake some Focaccia bread to go along with the soup.

 
I made the dough in the morning before work (SUPER simple, didn't even have to break out the mixer, just a bowl and a spoon!) 


The dough has to rest for 8 to 24 hours, and then again for two hours once separated into the cake tins, so this recipe needs to be planned out in advance....but it's so worth it. 

The very first thing I did when I got home from work was to split the dough into two portions as the recipe indicated, and sit the dough to rise by the fire. 

 Dinner was delayed a tiny bit by the additional rising time, but it was worth the wait! 



Just look at all that yumminess right there!! I used a recipe from The Cafe Sucre Farine and it truly is incredibly easy to make....no excuses!  I normally don't alter baking recipes very much, as they are a little out of my comfort zone, but I think I'm comfortable enough with this recipe now that next time I make it I want to incorporate some parmesan and garlic. 


Can you tell I adore Parmesan? 

Our meal was fantastic, and lunch the next day equally awesome. 

Bonus? Having the oven on to bake the bread helped warm up the house! 


On winter days when I'm blessed to have a day off and the chores are all done, my last task of the day before preparing dinner is usually treating myself to a hot bath. 

The candles are lit, the bubbles are fragrant (my current obsession....Bath & Body Works Black Currant & Pine Foam Bath....mmmmmmm) and I settle into the warm bubbles listening either to music or an audiobook. Sweetie got me the most amazing speaker for Christmas (thanks Sweetie!!) and I'm pretty much obsessed with it. I can play my music, my audiobooks, and my phone calls on it....it's so awesome, and the sound is incredible! 

It's really the little things in life, isn't it? Being able to play my audiobooks over a speaker has been wonderful....before I used to put my iPhone in a cup or bowl to amplify the sound! 

Anyways....


Speaking of little things....how cute are these little guys? My blogging friend Kris over at Junk Chic Cottage sent these to me in December....(those of you who follow me on Instagram saw them at the time) and I decided they could stay out for the winter since they are perfectly dressed for it! Thanks, Kris!! They truly make me smile every time I spot them in the corner of my bedroom!


The real birdies certainly need our help at this time of year, and I bundle up every single morning and go out and fill their feeders and make sure the water is topped up in their heated birdbath. 

I enjoy watching them so much out my dining room window, it's worth every cold minute in the mornings!

Oh, and just look at that....some of the herbs I harvested at the end of the season are still going strong in the dining room window! The basil and thyme have both rooted (note to self: pot up the basil & thyme) and the sage and curry are both still doing very well. 

The tall plant you see on the left is my Amaryllis, which will be flowering before long - yayyy!!  It didn't flower at all last year, but I repotted it over the summer and it's much healthier now.  When the Amaryllis is done, I'll start forcing some of the bulbs that I've been chilling in the downstairs fridge....can't wait to see those spring blooms!

I love surrounding myself with plants in the winter months, don't you? Even better if they are flowering plants!


Meanwhile, these two little rascals spend most of the winter cuddled up together in the chair in front of the fire, basking in any rays of sunshine that stream through the windows. (Another note to self: clean windows!)

They run out of the house like maniacs in the mornings, frightening any 'squirbles' off the deck....but they are back at the door within minutes, anxious to get in out of the cold. Poor little things...yet they get upset when I put their jackets on, go figure! 

So there's a little rambling post about how we cozy up winter around here...what's your favorite way to make your winter more tolerable?

30 comments:

  1. Lovely post post, Debbie...winter looks pretty darn cozy at your house!

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    1. I embrace every second of it at this time of year, Linda....but come late March I'm anxious for spring and praying for no more snow!

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  2. It has been frigidly cold here in northern IL, too! There's nothing better than a hot bowl of soup and bread or some kind of delicious casserole, chili, etc on a cold winter night. I am definitely going to have to try that focaccia bread. It looks perfect to go along with homemade soup.

    I'm so envious of your big tub. I'd be soaking in that every day! We just have a small standard bathtub. I soak in that a few times a week during the winter just to warm up and relax. I mix a few drops of essential oils into a carrier oil and distribute it through the tub. It makes it smell good, plus you get the benefit of the oils. I can't do commercial bubble baths because of the chemicals/synthetic fragrances.

    xoxo

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    1. I try to be careful how often I use my tub, Melanie, because I have a well and septic....if I used it too often I'd run out of water! So I use it more as a reward, on a day when I have worn myself out doing chores either inside or out. It makes it more special that way!

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  3. I so agree! You do cozy well my friend.

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    1. I try!! Winter is a time to hunker down next to the fire and rest up for gardening season!

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  4. Great post Debbie. Don't you love those birds? Kris is a gem, I have them too.

    Poor fur babies don't love the real cold days.

    You need to share the Focaccia recipe, please 🙏🙏

    Cindy

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    1. There's a link in the blog post, Cindy, but I'll also email it to you!

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  5. Winter is all about getting cozy, for sure! We don't have a woodburner or fireplace, so I keep a PB faux fur throw on the back of our couch. I keep candles around and love to bake more in the winter than other times of the year. Stay warm!

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    1. That was one non negotiable when I was buying my house, Carol - I had to have either a fireplace or a wood stove. Winters are too darned cold up here to rely on only one source of heat!

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  6. That foccacia looks fantastic! Thanks for the link to the recipe. We are cold here (18 degrees this am) but no snow. I have some plants in the kitchen, and did have some paperwhite blooms in late December, but the leaves are falling over now. My amaryllis looks like it is going to put up a bloom for me this year, it will be year seven that it has bloomed.

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    1. Wow, year 7, that's fantastic Carole! I'm so annoyed with myself - I had carried all my amaryllis (I had 4 or 5) to the garden cottage one spring to repot them and forgot all about them during the busy garden season....before I knew it, it was too late and the frost had killed them! So, now I'm down to one. I bought it for my mom the one winter she stuck around NY for the winter (Dad's final winter when he was unable to travel) and when she went to Florida the following fall she brought it up to my house, along with all her other plants!

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  7. Funny we enjoy the same blogs! I pinned the bread recipe. It sounds perfect!

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    1. I have tried many of their recipes, Penny, and have yet to be disappointed! A new favorite food blogger is Half Baked Harvest....do you follow that one? I'm making her naan tonight (dough is resting on the counter already) along with a curried sweet potato, carrot, and apple soup. Her naan is far better than any other I have tried, can't wait!

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  8. I was for some reason thinking about your pups this morning. They are so adorable. You have a cozy house and know how to feed people! I don't know how on earth you manage to get it all done with a full time job.
    Brenda

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    1. It's not always easy, Brenda, and some days I really feel like a hamster on a wheel....I just keep spinning and doing the same things day after day! If I could figure out a way to retire I would seriously consider it....or at least cut back my hours. But alas, I believe I will be working like a dog for some time yet!

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  9. Such a comforting, inspiring, homey, yummy post. Makes me hungry and I see that it is time for lunch. Enjoy your winter in your lovely home ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Thank you, Lorraine! I know winter sticks around up here usually until April or so, so there's no sense in fighting it!

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  10. Hi Deb,
    I love your idea of a nice bath and candles and good music or a book to listen too. Ahhhh what a beautiful treat on a winter night. I have my little birds still out too. What is it about them that makes us just smile. I think it is cute overload! Speaking of cute overload love seeing the little fur babes cuddling. Too cute. Have a great rest of this week. Winter is here! We can dream of Spring right?!!!!
    Hugs,
    Kris

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    1. That's all we can do at this point, Kris! Dream and plan our spring gardens!

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  11. Lovely rambles, pictures and pets! I can't wait to try out the recipes! Thanks for sharing.💖

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    1. Thank you, Susan! I love sharing recipes....when I find something I think is amazing, I adore passing along the info to my readers!

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  12. Debbie, what a sweet life you have. We always say if you have the right gear, any weather is tolerable. It's hoping the house withstands all the elements that gets me concerned. But you seem to have all the bases covered. I love it, and am happy for you.

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    1. You're so right, that's always a worry, Rita!! We've had some really intense wind storms that make me very nervous, being surrounded by trees as I am!

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  13. Despite the super cold temperatures, you have the perfect winter. Your home looks so cozy and a bubble bath with good music or a good book and candlelight is a reward for keeping the home fires stoked. Your sweetie is a fortunate fellow to enjoy your cooking. It all looks so good! Can't forget those two precious pups of yours. They know how to enjoy the warmth of the fire.

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    1. They often plop their little bodies on the hearth rug, little cuties that they are Donna!

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  14. It looks and sounds very cozy. Debbie.xo Laura

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  15. Coming back to this post to tell you that I made the foccacia bread, and it was indeed as easy as advertised. I did one with rosemary and parmesan, and the other with basil, oregano and parmesan. I used garlic oil on both for a bit of extra flavor. Both were really good, rustic and artisanal with chewy texture that soaked up the dipping oil nicely. Thanks for the link, and I'm now following her site as well. (Sorry, I don't usually come back to a post to see if there is a response. I hope your remaining amaryllis blooms for you.)

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    1. I'm so glad you loved it, Carole!! It's the second time I've made it, and it certainly won't be the last! I'm going to try your herb blends the next time, thanks for the tips!

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