Baby, it’s cold out there.
These days, when the winter wind rattles the windows in my house and my walk from the bus stop home leaves my pant legs soaked, my nose running and my fingertips icy, all I want is to be warm. Deep down warm.
Cuddling babies and dogs helps. So do fireplaces, fuzzy slippers and oversize man-sweaters. And flannel pj’s. I’m lucky to have all of those things at my disposal. Being a bit of a foodie (my husband would argue this is the understatement of the year), I like to cook and eat things that make me warm.
There’s soup: an obvious choice. Fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies: not only toasty to eat but good for adding to the layer of blubber that protects me during the wintry months. This past weekend, after a cool and blustery beach hike with friends and our small army of four legged companions, I got a little creative in the kitchen, looking for ways to take the chill off.
We started out with big mugs of Just Us! Mexican Hot Chocolate. This stuff gives the cold a one-two punch: a warm, rich chocolate right hook with a spicy finish that will knock you off your feet.
As the mercury started to climb, my hubby grated up several blocks of Fox Hill cheddar. A little bit of medium cheddar, a little one year old cheddar, and a little four year old cheddar all got tossed in a bowl with half a teaspoon of salt, a few twists of pepper from the grinder, and two tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
Into a garlic clove-rubbed fondue pot went a bottle of Garrison Nut Brown Ale (the mister’s favourite), which simmered over a low flame before I added the cheese mixture.
I thought you’d agree.
We had picked up some Honeycrisp apples and Bosc pears from the Noggins Corner Farm stall at the Seaport Farmers’ Market the day before, so those got sliced and, along with some cubes of freshly baked bread, skewered and dipped into the bubbling cheese.
The tart, cold fruit warmed and softened slightly when robed in the tangy, boozy cheddar. Consumed with a mug of hot chocolate and, of course, a few slurps of leftover Nut Brown, this little snack was the perfect antidote to a slushy, windblown Nova Scotia day.
Leaning back and reveling in good conversation with old friends and the shrieks of excitement from my daughter as she navigated an apple slice with her two teeth, I couldn’t help but feel the warmth.