Saturday, January 9, 2010

How to Survive Winter


It’s so cold! It is -5 degrees this morning. How are we going to survive winter?

I’m stuck home for a few days with bronchitis and a sinus infection and am trying to think of some things I like about winter and things I can enjoy only in winter. Here is my list of the 10 things I need to survive winter
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#1 One of my favorite gifts I got for Christmas was a royal blue Snuggie. The Snuggie is a lightweight yet warm cover with sleeves to wear while sitting on the couch and reading or having a snack or crocheting while watching TV. It is not very useful for wearing around the house as it is too long to walk around in and doesn’t stay on very well. A poncho Snuggie would be a much better invention. I’m going to crochet a poncho next time I find a yarn sale.

#2 The second favorite gift I got for Christmas was a pair Shea Butter Socks from the Bath and Body Store. My new shea butter socks are very warm and moisturize my feet while I’m wearing them. They are very pretty and washable too, although you can only wash them 25 times before they lose the shea butter. Buttering up your feet with your favorite lotion and putting on a thick pair of socks works just as well but takes more effort.

#3 A warm soak in the tub with a good book. A warm tub of water, scented bath salts or oils, lighted candles, and a good book to read will warm you up after a long, hard day. You may have received some of these things for Christmas and this is a good time to use them. You can also make your own bath salts by combining 3 cups Epsom salts with 2 cups baking soda, and 1 cup table salt in a mixing bowl. Add food coloring if desired and stir until well mixed. Add some essential oil and mix. (You can buy essential oils at craft stores and also Wal Mart.) Store in tightly cover jars. Check out the bath recipes at Pioneer Thinking: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/baths.html .

#4 Hot Cocoa or tea. Many people give hot cocoa mixes and teas as Christmas gifts. A good cup of hot cocoa or tea or coffee raises your body temperature and your spirits and is good for your health too. I am currently hooked on Land of Lakes Cocoa Classics Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix although the Hazelnut and Supreme are pretty good too. They are about 140 calories a cup but are worth the splurge as they are delicious and creamy! Have you ever made hot cocoa from scratch with actual cocoa powder and real milk? It is very simple and very delicious! Here is my favorite recipe:

Favorite Hot Cocoa
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
Dash salt
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups (1 qt.) milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to serving temperature. Do Not Boil.
2. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat with rotary beater or whisk until foamy. Serve topped with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired. Five 8-oz. servings.

This recipe can be found on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa Box.
I also like hot tea with honey when I am sick. It sooths a sore throat and eases an itchy cough.

#5 A hot roaring fire in the fireplace. If you are lucky enough to have a working fireplace, now is the time to use it. We use 4 hour Duraflame logs and add a stick or two of wood from our wood pile. Duraflame logs are easy to start, burn cleanly, and make a lovely warm fire. A warm fire can be very soothing on a cold winter night. If you don’t have a fireplace you can buy an electric one (starting at $288 at Sam’s Club) or you could try a fireplace video like this one from Target for around $15.00: http://www.target.com/Original-Christmas-Yule-Fireplace-Video/dp/B002ONNV0W/sr=1-22-mmb/qid=1263056025/ref=sr_2_2/176-1120657-4647107?ie=UTF8&search-alias=tgt-index&frombrowse=0&index=target&rh=k%3Afireplace%20logs&page=1 .

#6. Hot, comforting, easy to prepare meals like soups, beef stew, chicken and noodles, etc. Here are a few of my favorite winter recipes:
Beef Stew
Ingredients:
1 pound beef stew cubes
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 small chopped onion
salt
pepper
1 cup tomato juice
1 can beef broth
1 can beef gravy
4 large potatoes
2 carrots
½ cup frozen peas
Brown 1 pound beef stew cubes in 1tbsp melted butter or margarine in heavy skillet on medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion and sauté until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup tomato juice, 1 can beef broth, and 1 can beef gravy and simmer for 3 minutes. Take 4 large potatoes and 2 carrots and peel and cut onto small pieces. Place potatoes, carrots, ½ cup of frozen peas (optional) into a 2 quart casserole and top with skillet mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours.

Chicken and Noodles
Ingredients:
4 small chicken breasts or 2 cups shredded chicken
3 cans chicken broth
Salt
Pepper
Beau Monde seasoning
10 oz. package of egg noodles

Cut 4 small chicken breasts into bite size pieces and brown in 1 tbsp butter or margarine in a large skillet. (Note you can use Pam instead of butter). Season with salt and pepper. Add 3 cans chicken broth and 1 tsp Beau Monde seasoning and simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1 package of noodles (you may need to add a little more water) and boil for 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. (This makes a very simple but delicious dish. The secret is the Beau Monde seasoning and using good quality noodles. You can add more spices and vegetables if you wish.)

Lasagne
Ingredients:
1 package uncooked lasagne noodles
1 jar pizza sauce
1 pound cooked ground beef or sausage
2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Butter an 8 inch square baking dish. Repeat the following layers twice:
1. Spread half the pizza sauce on bottom of baking pan.
2. Cover sauce with sheets of uncooked noodles.
3. Cover noodles with half of the following mixture: 2 eggs, 1 cup cottage cheese, and ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
4. Sprinkle half the ground beef on top of the cottage cheese mixture.
5. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella cheese over ground beef mixture.
6. Repeat steps 1-5. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan cheese on top if desired.
7. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for an hour. Uncover and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

#7 Good books to read. Winter is the perfect time to stay inside and read a good book. Many libraries have winter reading programs and book clubs if you like to read and discuss books. I have always read a lot year round but I like to climb into bed early with a good book when it is cold outside. I read a lot of romantic fiction and have a lot of these kinds of books for sale in my store: The Crafty Cupboard: http://stores.ebay.com/The-Crafty-Cupboard_Books_W0QQ_fsubZ511445015QQ_sidZ228930235QQ_trksidZp4634Q2ec0Q2em322. This year I have decided that I want to read some classic literature too. Every other book I read will be a classic literature novel or maybe even some poetry. So far, I have read The Stranger by Albert Camus followed by The Bargain Bride. I actually liked The Stranger better than The Bargain Bride. I have just started Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and it is pretty good so far. It really shakes you out of your rut to read something different.

#8 Making some pudding. Buy a package of cook and serve pudding and cook it on the stove. Eat it warm with a little whipped topping. It is a delicious and very satisfying dessert. I especially love tapioca pudding. Warm desserts really hit the spot when it freezing outside!

#9 Making a snowman or go sledding or even go for a walk in the snow. It won’t warm you up but the fresh air and fun will make you feel good.

#10 Moisturize. Drink plenty of water and other liquids. Heated air can dry you out and make you feel terrible. Put on plenty of lotion on after showering and bathing and keep your hand and feet moisturized. Use a humidifier for your house if have one. Keep house plants watered as they will put moisture in the air. I don’t have a humidifier but I keep a bathtub filled with water (not a good idea if you have pets or small children who might fall in) and boil a huge pot of water and let it steep twice a day to put moisture in the air.

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