After the Blizzard
The black tree’s thin limbs,
Fragile as starving deer,
Scrape the gray sky,
As though begging gold
From the cold silver sun.
Green is a memory from a dream,
And the rabbit, colorless with cold,
Stands motionless, gazing unfed
Toward the edge.
The teal-necked wild duck has gone,
And the only sound is the groan of stones.
Now is the time when every creature
Trusts the fire in her own beating heart
To breathe her through this endless white night.
Here in Hawaii, the winter temperatures plummet to around 70 degrees, or even 69 at night, but in the rest of the country, this winter has brought unusually cold, snowy and freezing weather. During this season of historic cold, many families are struggling to stay warm and well fed as they deal with power outages, blizzard conditions, slow ploughs and shortages of food staples due to shipping challenges. In long dark winters like this one, nothing is more comforting than hot, hearty soup. Some of my previous blogs could help out. My March 2018 blog contains the recipe for Cuban Black Beans and Rice, a healthy meal that can be made in volume to last your family for several days in case you get snowed in. Borscht is another great cold weather soup that contains all the winter vegetables that will warm your heart and satisfy your tummy—cabbage, onions, beets, potatoes and carrots. You can find the recipe for this nutrient-packed and filling soup in my February 2017 blog.
For those of you who find yourselves surrounded by snow and ice-covered roads and darkness that arrives in the afternoon, now would be a good time to re-read Kathleen’s comforting January 2019 blog, “Hygge in America.” Elle Magazine described the concept of Hygge as “… a wholesome Danish concept of coziness.” One way to begin creating Hygge in your own home this winter is to eliminate anything in your environment that creates a feeling of clutter or stress. Now is the time to take New Year’s house cleaning to a new aesthetic level. We all want our homes to feel beautiful and serene, so let’s throw out all those old pairs of shoes that we know we will never wear again. Let’s get rid of any old newspapers or magazines that are piling up. And if your children or your pets have gotten into the habit of leaving their grungy old toys lying around the living room, spring for a couple of attractive storage baskets and whisk anything unsightly out of your happy space.
Think about the beauty of winter’s hushed color palette—shades of gray with touches of stark black and white, accented with momentary flashes of deep cardinal red and fresh pine green.
You can activate the Hygge in your own home by getting out your red plaid flannel pajamas and Grandma’s hand-made quilts. A pine-scented candle would also be nice, along with some healthy fresh green houseplants. And if you have a fireplace, use it every evening as you sip warm cider in the flickering light. Afternoon Tea is also a guaranteed generator of Hygge, and we heartily recommend the Winter Afternoon Tea on our website. This menu features warm winter flavors, including chestnuts, potatoes and chocolate. There is nothing like chocolate, especially warm, comforting hot chocolate, to help us embrace the serenity of a cold winter night.
Meanwhile, enjoy your cozy winter afternoons and hearty candle-lighted dinners, and may 2023 bring joy, Hygge, and plenty of good hot soup into your life.
Portuguese Bean Soup
- 2 large, sweet onions, chopped
- 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 linguica sausage, chopped
- 1 ham hock
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped and stems removed
- ½ head of green cabbage, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried tarragon
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Additional pepper and salt to taste
Large stockpot with lid, paring knife, cutting board, sieve, rubber gloves
Makes: about 8 servings
- Place all the ingredients, except the chopped cabbage, into a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium, partially cover the pot to allow steam to escape, and simmer until the onions and tomatoes start to break down, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove the ham hock and place it on the cutting board. Add the cabbage to the stock pot and turn the heat up to medium high. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the cabbage is cooked through but still green.
- While the cabbage cooks, using rubber gloves to protect your fingers from the heat, cut the meat off the ham hock and add it back into the stockpot. When the cabbage is cooked, taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle into bowls and serve immediately with bread, butter, cheese or sandwiches. Refrigerate leftovers. Portuguese Bean Soup, like all bean soups, is even better the next day.