Winter Things | A Culinary Adventure

Hello, friends! I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table writing with fresh snow falling outside my kitchen door. There’s only a blue-gray light left of the day and I’m craving a hot mug of coffee (but since I’m writing this on a Thursday evening, that might not be the greatest idea!). More snow is in the forecast for this coming weekend, and I’ve heard a rumor that we’re in for a Polar Vortex. Remember the one from 2014? We couldn’t get rid of the snow for months and finally thawed out at the end of March! For any snow lovers, I think we’ll get our fix and then be begging for warmer weather soon enough! I’m not sure when I came to enjoy Winter (it was my least liked season for the longest time), but it might be second place to Fall, in my book. As long as I can enjoy it indoors, that is! And last weekend with our first snow of the year, we really settled in, took it easy and enjoyed. Somehow that translated to a bit of homemade goodies!

The day before the storm was supposed to hit, last Friday, we made sure to stock up at the grocery store. I’ve been really wanting to try my hand at baking bread and found a simple – very simple when it comes to bread making – recipe to try (and sort of adjusted it to make it my own). I’ve never had to buy yeast before and luckily we started chatting with a nice lady in the aisle who helped me pick out what I needed. I’ll always be grateful to her! I also picked up a bakers block to make homemade hot chocolate. And what’s better to go with hot chocolate than marshmallows? So I had the idea to get some unflavored gelatine and make them homemade, which would also be a first. Wow, was this snowy weekend looking like a culinary adventure or what?

Waiting for the dough to rise! How fun! This was a french bread recipe. Very simple ingredients in this bread and best of all – no dairy! We also added garlic powder.

All shaped and topped with butter (okay, so there’s a little bit of dairy…!) and oregano. Very simply, we’re calling it Garlic Oregano French Bread. How fancy!

I loved watching the bread rise in the oven! Of course, the best part of all is when you get to take it out and eat it – hot and fresh!

David dipped his slices in olive oil with salt and pepper. He’s already asked me to make it again! I’d say that’s a good sign this bread recipe will stick around! Though this bread was very simplistic and quick to make, there’s something so gratifying and special in the process of making it. It made me feel connected to a different way of living that used to be very common just hundred years ago. But I still have a lot to learn in the art of bread baking, especially the more time consuming recipes!

To pair with our bread, I made split pea soup – one of my favorites that my mother-in-law introduced me to years ago! I also settled myself on the couch with a blanket and continued reading Jane Watson Hopping’s winter cookbook. Craving more of that old fashioned simple living influence, I had the idea to look on youtube for any of The Walton’s episodes. I used to watch a few of the episodes here and there while growing up, but don’t remember much of it. My grandmother, who is no longer with us, used to watch them when they ran marathons on t.v. It reminded her of how she used to grow up and of simpler times. The only thing I could find on youtube was their pilot, which was a Christmas movie called The Homecoming. The movie scenery was all snowy and the Walton’s are from Virginia, just like me, so this was perfect! Midway through, I realized this was one of the last things I remember watching with my grandmother and it made me feel more connected to her. As I grow older and want a more simplistic life and appreciate the old way of doing things, I understand more than ever why she had The Walton’s on her t.v. almost any time I went to visit her.

And then, around 4pm, it started snowing! Gentle snow flakes at first in that dark blue-gray light, and soon an inch was on the ground, covering tree branches and our fence. It was so beautiful and peaceful!

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The next morning called for a big dollop of whipped cream, especially reserved on days like this when nature is a winter wonderland.

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By the afternoon, I shaved some chocolate off the bakers block and heated up some cashew milk (Elmhurst is our favorite brand. Our store stopped selling it a few months ago, so we order it through Amazon now). Hot chocolate coming right up! Unfortunately my marshmallows didn’t turn out like I wanted, but were still decent. We’ll have to try that one again soon!

Last year, I was reading a passage in Her Mother’s Hope, by Francine Rivers, about having hot chocolate in fine porcelain cups. I promptly took a picture of it, inspired. My “fine porcelain cups” are disguised as tea cups that I got at T.J. Maxx, but it’ll do just as well! You’re only limited by your imagination, after all.

At the end of the day we were left with this. A real marshmallow world! I loved watching the sky change color through the snow covered trees, too!

Tell me – how do you stay warm and cozy on a snow day? What’s your favorite thing to bake? I hope Winter is treating you well, friends! Stay warm!

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