Brrr! Two blizzards, about two feet of snow on the ground, and two straight nights of temperatures in the teens. Have you been staying indoors a lot this new year? I don’t blame you, and I’m not moving much either. Maybe ordering in some take-out sounds tempting, but after a couple nights of this, you might realize how much more often you’ll have to walk outside to get rid of the copious container-trash. Not fun! No, I find it much more appealing, and beneficial in weird ways learned only after many winters of this, to eat in. This month’s reason is all about the ways in which cooking makes your home more cozy.
I was going to curl underneath a blanket or sink into a tub the minute I slammed the door shut getting home tonight. But, remembering that I had two pumpkins in tow (incredibly, still fresh and firm since Halloween), I turned on the oven to roast them instead. I don’t have a large apartment, so it became toasty pretty fast. And once the pumpkins had been halved, scooped of their seeds, and placed in the oven to slowly sizzle a while, it smelled like a toasting marshmallow over a campfire, too. Pumpkin-scented candles? Totally unnecessary, when you have this. And home-baked sugar cookies smell — and taste — much better than candles designed to smell like this, too.
It could be something much simpler that does this home-scenting trick, too: stirring cocoa into steaming milk on the stove, or making chai. I like to use my long nights or weekend days of staying home in the cold to simmer a chicken or vegetable stock. The longer, the better, for the constant waft of something delicious to come.
Aside from these more obvious appeals, your home will benefit from the frequency that you cook in more ways. A well-stocked freezer (that is, stuffed with frozen things) requires less energy it takes to keep it all frozen. So best to keep tubs of stock, leftovers and sauces in there at all times. If you have dry skin that’s exacerbated by the intense winter chill, you might not need to invest in a humidifier if you cook soups, stews and stock all the time (seriously, just stand over a bubbling pot a few minutes each day for a facial). Washing more dishes isn’t great, but your chapped, dry and scratchy hands can benefit from the soak. You can cook with your pajamas, a scarf and slippers on, and who can say that for going to a restaurant?
All told, the modern kitchen might not be able to compete with a rustic, 18th century hearth stove in the coziness category. But you might find yourself gravitating towards it in the winter. It’s where the heart is — and where the most heat is.