A List of Cozy Things

Today in Virginia we have snow.

That is not exactly accurate.

Today in Virginia we have cold air and the hope of snow. Projections are changing constantly: will we get ten inches? Four inches? No inches? Last night's snow never really came, at least not like it meant it. The only thing currently snow-covered are our car windshields. We haven't moved the cars because we are off work because of the snow. Which, as we've established before, isn't here yet. But of course I'm not complaining. Andrew, who is from Buffalo, is lifetime-tired of snow and doesn't understand our Southern excitement, nor why we'd close down the entire city before snow which might not happen. But Andrew does love a good day off of work, so he is also uncomplaining. Today's post isn't going to be a recipe, really. I'll link to lots of recipes, things we've been cooking or hope to cook soon, along with other things that have caught my attention since last writing. Let's call this "A List of Cozy Things" and get going!

Snow days call for hearty food, don't they? Breakfast this cold morning was scrambled omelets, oven bacon, and blackberries. I also made a cappuccino in my mushroom mug from Waverly Long. Weekends are really the only time that I use the mug. It's beautiful: half pottery, half sculpture. It also cost too much and consequently I never take it out of the house or through the dishwasher. I'm too scared.

A couple weeks ago I shared an Instagram post outlining instructions to make my favorite chicken pot pie. It's the type of thing that tastes even better after you've been outside in the cold and snow. It would be a natural choice for dinner tonight for sure. However, I'm still regaining my taste (ahem) and I discovered last time I made it that there is nothing less appealing than the texture of chicken pot pie when you have no sense of taste or smell. Tonight I'll be caramelizing cabbage a la Andy Baraghani, cooking some Japanese sweet potatoes, and roasting a chicken. One of my recent food goals is to cook delicious things in new ways, and not rely so much on baking as my go-to kitchen time. I still love baking, I still don't villainize any food group and enjoy them all. But if there's one way I want to develop my cooking skills this year, it's in becoming more diverse in the ways I treat vegetables and proteins, not butter and sugar. In that vein, we've also become big fans of this quick sheet pan gnocchi recipe from Bon Appetit. I have texted the recipe to half a dozen friends, made it multiple times for our dinner, and even cooked it for my boss, for whom I've lately started to cook once a week. You would enjoy it too.

not a good photo, yes a good dinner

My best kitchen buddy Shannon, whom many of you will remember as the originator of the beloved spicy pasta, now lives in Amsterdam. It's been difficult to coordinate Facetime calls with a six-hour time difference but we are pretty active through Marco Polo. Our Instagram DMs and texts are almost always centered around food still, so really there isn't too much difference from when she lived stateside. We discuss the new foods she's trying in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France as well as old recipes she's adapting for use with new ingredients. It's hard to shop for spices when you can't read Dutch, she reports. I can imagine. This did not prevent her from sending me a parcel of treats by proxy through her in-laws. It contained piment d'espelette, her favorite aged gouda, some delicious cookies, and a box of pretty, tinned sardines in various states of dressing-up and was probably the most exciting package I've ever received. Once I fully regain my taste I plan to eat them on sourdough toast like I'm Mr. freaking Tumnus or somebody.

Shannon is the one who tipped me off about the caramelized cabbage situation and so, in a way, we will be "sharing" dinner across the Atlantic. That's the exciting thing about food: it connects you to distant places, times, and people and makes the space between feel shorter. When I make this cabbage tonight it'll almost be like having dinner with Shannon and Ben again. Minus the whole having-traveled-to-Amsterdam thing. I have a lot of cabbage in my fridge, and as cabbage never really seems to go bad until you've forgotten it for a very very long time, it wins the Most Forgiving Vegetable award. I'm not kidding. There's a half a red cabbage that has lived in my crisper drawer since....November? It's still cheerful-looking. Cabbage: the no-waste vegetable.

We have been drinking a lot of tea lately. Like a lot. I've reformed my ways from being a big spender at coffee shops, and bring a travel mug of black tea with collagen everywhere. Mainly because all of the coffee shops in Chesapeake, where I now live, suck. I can't say my behavior would be nearly as model if I still lived in Ghent where a cappuccino from Kobros seems like just the thing on a daily basis. It would be very hard to resist and I'm not known for my self control. Perhaps it is for the best. I think my bank account breathed a sigh of relief the day I moved out of Norfolk. Anyway my go-to for tea now is always P.G. Tips. Do you have a favorite tea, and if you say "green" can you explain why? I'm sorry but  I've yet to prefer green tea over black. It feels like I'm probably missing something.

For a prime cup of P.G. Tips (which I drink in an Anthropologie mug with a giant leopard on it) I like a drizzle of heavy cream, a scoop of collagen peptides, then a little bit of vanilla sugar. To make vanilla sugar, simply bury the husk of a vanilla bean (go ahead and scrape the insides for another recipe, no need to waste it on this) in a little container of cane sugar and go about with your life. In a few weeks when you revisit the sugar, it will be deliciously vanilla-scented. This can be repeated again and again with the same vanilla bean for seemingly endless repetitions. I will let you know if it ever gets "used up," but my particular vanilla bean has been going strong for a year plus and shows no sign of expiring. Vanilla beans: the other no-waste staple.

We've seen some good movies lately. I'm a rabid fan of documentaries. Andrew is less keen on them but there's something wild to me about the idea that these crazy things actually happened in real life. Latest in the lineup has been The Rescue on Netflix about the hobbyist cave divers who rescued a youth football team from a flooded cave in Thailand. Watch it, but remember to breathe. Another great one is 14 Peaks, also on Netflix. I don't know what it is about me and extreme sport documentaries. I'm clearly not someone who participates, but they're great fun to watch. I'm also sad to say I've sailed through Tiger King 2 and am watching the spinoff Doc Antle series with nausea. Outside of the documentary category, we really enjoyed Being The Ricardos starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. This one is on Amazon Prime. Do we feel like Amazon Prime is a strangely unpredictable streaming service? They simultaneously have the best and worst options. 

I'm sorry to say that we were personally not fans of everyone else's latest obsession: Disney's Encanto. I love the colors, the diverse "cast", the themes of addressing family dysfunction which ran throughout...but it totally lacked resolution for us. Also that "Whatever Happened To Bruno" song? NOT varied in its application and ability to be sung outside of the context of this very specific movie. We feel like outcasts for our opinion, but we can't help it. I could go on but honestly, it's not worth my time. The entire world is against us here and I'm resigned to that. But please. Stop sharing Encanto memes and subReddits.

Anyhow. Today is a snow-day but the snow has still not started yet. I should move my bones and do some yoga, or step out back and trim rosemary (which seems to....enjoy being repeatedly frozen?). For lunch I'd like to make a pot of braised rosemary white beans - weirdly addictive for a recipe that has, like, three ingredients. I hope you'll find something new to enjoy via this post, whether a recipe, something fun to stream, or just a respite from your life while you read. If you live here, or any other snowy place across the country, it's a cold and sere day outside. You deserved a list of cozy things and I'm here to oblige you. Until next time, happy cooking! 


  1. I've tried many teas but I think I will always default to Harney and Sons black tea. Have you have chocolate flavored tea before or better yet, chocolate coconut tea? Those are some incredible flavors. I go for flavored tea more often than adding things to tea but vanilla sugar sounds heavenly. Water temperature matters very much for green tea as it can taste burnt if brewed at the same temperature as black tea. Thank you for your list of cozy things. :) Rosemary white beans sound so lovely easy. I'll keep them in mind.

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