Thoughts for the last days of winter

By Anna Ferraro

The sun keeps teasing us with occasional bursts of light. Temperatures rise a bit, only to fall again. Nights are still chilly, days are unpredictable … but we’re all clinging to the hope that spring is right around the corner. While we faithfully count down to March 20 (first day of spring), it’s still time for homemade soup, hot tea, and cozy evenings. Here are a few basic ideas to help you finish out the last days of winter with a smile on your face.

First, make yourself some soup – from scratch. Seriously. Even if you’re not used to cooking, you really need to do this. Here is a recipe to make yourself or your family some fabulous chicken noodle soup – nourishing, warming, and delicious!

4 Tbsp. butter

1 onion, chopped

3 carrots, cut into ½ in. slices

2 celery ribs, sliced lengthwise and cut in ½ in. slices

3 fresh garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. dried oregano

8-10 cups of chicken broth/stock

8 oz. dried egg noodles (or 8 oz. spaghetti noodles, broken in half)

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

Salt and black pepper

Sour cream, optional

Melt butter in a medium stock pot. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, and/or oregano. Gently cook for 8-10 minutes until soft. Add a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Stir gently. Add 8 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add noodles. Cook noodles for about 5-6 minutes until softened. Stir in chicken and simmer an additional 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. In the European style, serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with some fresh parsley. Enjoy, (Serves 4-6).

Second, brew a pot of tea. In my house, our electric kettle hums perpetually. We each have our own favorite mugs, and all winter long we brew ourselves “cups of happiness.” A few personal favorites: Celestial Seasonings’ “Coconut Thai,” Twining’s Earl Grey, and Bigelow’s Mint Medley (caffeine free) tea.

I might add that we are sure to brew our tea according to English standards: fresh, filtered water brought fully to the boil, poured gently over the bags into a tea pot (important). After brewing for the specified time, add a splash of milk into the cup of your choice, then pour tea into a cup over milk. Add sweetener if desired and enjoy.

Third, create an atmosphere of warmth. While the chilly March winds whip around your home, you can enjoy a cozy evening inside. Turn on some relaxing music, light a candle, grab a good book, wrap up in a warm blanket … in less than five minutes you can transform a dreary evening into a delightful one.

Whatever you choose to do in the last days of winter, enjoy the end of this beautiful season! Make the most of it … because in just a few more days, spring will be here!

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