In the depths of this winter arctic tundra, I seem to have switched over to an almost entirely hot-liquid diet: hot tea, hot coffee, hot soup, hot cocoa, hot stews, hot whatever. Most recently, I even tried making “hot” ice cream by pouring some next-to-boiling coffee over top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream (spoiler alert: the ice cream melts). When the winds are a’blowin’ and my fingers freeze almost instantaneously and my nose resembles Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’s, I reach for something that will transform me from a human icicle into a human capable of functioning sans shivers.
At home, this usually involves traipsing around with a blanket, my winter coat, and one or several worn-out hoodies. More often than not, the tea kettle is constantly whistling on the stove and my path from room to room can be traced from the tea mugs left helter skelter on every available surface. My mom likes to refer to this as “Kathryn’s hibernation period,” or the time between late December and early March when clothing options are limited to shapeless fleece-lined items and eating/drinking options are constricted to anything that’s at least lukewarm.
At school, faced with the necessity of having to leave the comfort and warmth of my apartment for both class and track practice, I resort to wearing running clothes in public and knotting a scarf tightly around every part of my face. Sometimes I even don the eskimo-like hood on my coat and completely transform into a walking, talking snow-woman. Most of the time I just end up squinting my eyes, shove my hands into my pockets, and do a forward-bending fast walk/shuffle in the hope that somehow this will make me more aerodynamic and allow me to ignore the fact that everything around me is literally, actually frozen. This can be a rather hard feat to accomplish if you, like me, have the tendency to stumble over things and become extremely hard of hearing when your hood blocks out everything, sound included.
Cold complaints aside, winter does have its charm: sparkling landscapes, 4-day weekends, ephemeral snow sculptures, excellent sledding conditions. And soup, chili, stew, cassoulet, bouillabaisse; tea, coffee, cocoa, chai, glugenwine. So if you haven’t indulged in something warm, something soul-satisfying, make yourself “a cuppa,” sit down with the latest episode of “New Girl” or the Sunday Times, and relish in the warmth of winter foods.
Indian Masala Chai from Food and Wine Magazine
4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons black tea
In a mortar, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon, or use a coffee grinder.
Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, add the water, ginger and pepper and bring to a boil.
Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and add the tea.
Cover and let steep for 3 minutes.
Stir the chai, then strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups.