A season of comfort and joy


The holiday season is upon us, and that can mean a lot of extra stress. But it is not necessary. After the past two years we’ve all had enough stress, haven’t we?

I adopt a theme for this Christmas: comfort and joy. If a gathering, tradition, or expectation doesn’t bring me and my family comfort and joy, guess what? We don’t.

I’m making hand-drawn chalk signs for stress relief and a creative outlet, and I’ve made some of the above signs to hang around my house and remind me of the theme.

Cultivate comfort

We make ourselves comfortable for the holidays with me. I love the Norwegian concept of koselig, which basically translates into a feeling of warmth, friendliness and privacy. In practice, this means embracing the cold and dark of winter and making it a chance to get warm.

Think fluffy blankets, plush pillows, fur slippers, sparkling candles, toasty fireplaces, relaxing music, hot drinks, and simple food. Just reading relaxes you, doesn’t it?

The beautiful thing about koselig and winter vacations is that you don’t have to spend a single penny to do it. Take those extra pillows and duvets out of the linen closet and place them where you can easily grab them from the sofa. Light the candles on your table at every meal, even at breakfast.

Create a few vacation playlists, including one that can blend into the background.

Fill your slow cooker with wassail and bake traditional treats such as gingerbread men and fruit cakes (recipes follow). Keep all the hot chocolate fixings in a basket on your counter.

Another part of adopting the koselig lifestyle is enjoying the outdoors, even when it is cold. I like the saying “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes. ”

With the right equipment, not only will winter chores be more tolerable, but winter recreation will be too. You will be more inclined to take a morning walk or pull the kids on the sled if your feet are kept warm. It is comfort that leads to joy!

Find your joy

What makes you feel real joy? What makes your family happy? If you don’t know, ask them!

For me, it’s just being in the same room with my husband and our three sons, especially now that two of them are in college in the neighboring state. They’re home for the holidays, and having everyone together and hearing their laughter brings me so much happiness. I’m just going to soak up everything and make a point of recognizing these moments of joy.

This month’s family section is a little different than usual. I’ve included a few more recipes and some simple ideas to make the most of your vacation.

No matter how you celebrate, whether it’s a large extended family get-together or an intimate day with a few loved ones, I wish you and yours good news of comfort and happiness. joy !

Spicy Gingerbread Men





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Keep icing and candy handy and let kids decorate them while they eat them!

  • 2 cups of flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves

  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

  • 8 tablespoons of butter

  • 1/2 cup of sugar

  • 1/2 cup sulfur-free molasses (Sulfur-free molasses has a more pronounced cane flavor, as no sulfur is used during processing. If not available, use regular molasses.)

  • 1 large egg yolk

1. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the molasses and the yolk. With the mixer on low speed, beat the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until just combined. Unmold the dough onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap, wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. (Properly refrigerated dough is much easier to work with, so we recommend refrigerating it for 2 hours. The dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator before continuing.)

2. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F. and place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out the cookies using a 3-inch gingerbread cookie cutter or other favorite cookie cutter. Space cookies 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets.

3. Bake in batches until tops of cookies are firm to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. If desired, ice or decorate when cooled. (Baked cookies will keep for three days in an airtight container at room temperature or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Makes thirty 3-inch cookies.

Nutritional information per cookie: 88 calories, 3.3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 14 mg cholesterol, 14 g carbohydrate, 93 mg sodium, 0.3 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Vacation Wassail





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Keep this punch warm in the slow cooker so it’s ready when you are.

  • 6 inch cinnamon stick, broken

  • 12 whole cloves

  • 8 cups of water

  • 1/2 12-ounce can frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate (3/4 cup)

  • 1/2 12-ounce can frozen raspberry juice blend concentrate (3/4 cup)

  • 1 can 6 ounces of frozen apple juice concentrate (3/4 cup)

  • 1/2 cup of sugar

  • 1⁄3 cup lemon juice

  • 3/4 cup brandy or rum or 6 tea bags (optional)

  • Orange slices (optional)

1. For the spice bag, cut a double layer of 100% cotton gauze into a 6 inch square. Place the cinnamon and cloves in the center of the cheesecloth square. Roll up the corners of the cheesecloth and tie with a clean string.

2. In a 3 1/2, 4, or 5 quart dish cooker, combine the water, cranberry juice concentrate, raspberry juice blend concentrate, apple juice concentrate, sugar and sugar. lemon juice. Add the spice bag to the juice mixture.

3. Coverage; cook over low heat for 5 to 6 hours or over high heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove the spice bag and throw it away. If desired, about 5 minutes before serving, add brandy or rum or tea bags to the dish cooker. Leave to rest for 5 minutes. Throw away the tea bags, if you use them.

4. To serve, pour beverage into cups. If you want, float an orange slice on each serving.

Makes 14 servings (6 ounces).

Nutritional information per serving: 80 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 21 g carbohydrates, 8 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.

Chocolate fruit cake with nuts





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Fruit cake gets a bad rap, but this sweet and chewy cake is good enough to give as a gift!

  • 1 cup candied red cherries, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup of dried apricots, chopped

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

  • 6 tablespoons of softened butter

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/4 cup orange juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

  • 1/4 cup sliced ​​almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 300 ° F. Lightly coat a 9 × 5 × 3-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment or waxed paper; put aside. In a bowl, combine cherries, apricots, raisins and chocolate; put aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and both sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat eggs, one at a time, until combined. Stir in the orange juice and almond extract. Add the flour, baking powder and 1⁄8 teaspoon of salt. Beat until just combined. Stir in fruit mixture, nuts and pecans. Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with almonds.

3. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Pack and store 8 hours or overnight before serving.

Makes 16 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 311, Fat 16g (5g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol 51mg, Carbohydrate 41g, Sodium 78mg, Fiber 3g, Sugar 21g, Protein 5g .

For any recipe questions, email [email protected]


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