Ah, November. It’s a time where I find myself “getting real”. Summer is long gone, Thanksgiving is over (at least here in Canada), and the excitement of Halloween and candy everywhere is slowly fading like my sugar coma. I now start to pay attention to all those Christmas displays that have been slowly popping up since September. Now they are in full force – the holiday season is only a mere 52 days away you know. I get more used to the task of warming up my car and scraping the frost off my windshield every morning, wearing mitts, a scarf, and reluctantly, a winter coat. I find the older I get, the less patient and tolerant I am with winter here. To tell you the truth, it’s a pain in the ass. Shovelling, plugging in my car (for real, we do that here), and layering my clothing so much that at times I feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Winter can be very unattractive and depressing to a lot of people – myself included.
I recall as a kid absolutely loving winter. There was no day too cold, no snow bank too high to climb and no ice rink without kids on it to play a game of hockey. Claudia would spend her days pulling me and my brother in a sled down our back lane to the park on the corner of our street. She would bundle us both up in our ski pants, parka, toque, mitts, scarf and boots – probably a 30 minute ordeal in itself. She would then bundle herself up and pull us both in one sled. We absolutely loved it! It was such a short trek to the park, probably a block in distance. But it felt like forever because it was such an adventure to us. I look back and have no idea how Claudia did it…trek two hyper kids in the freezing cold to go jump into snow piles. She actually probably just wanted us to wear ourselves out so we could crash in the afternoon and she’d have some well-deserved “me” time. But no matter how cold it was outside, I never felt it as a kid. My home was always filled with such warmth and wonder.
I try to recreate that feeling of comfort and warmth that my parents gave to me when I was a kid in a couple different ways. In the plush blankets that I keep close to the couch, to the mugs of hot tea I drink on a nightly basis, to the savoury scented candles I light, and to the comfort food I cook in my kitchen (like this delicious Lasagne dish!). All these things help me get through those tough cold days and allow me to feel more like an adventurous, protected (and spoiled) kid.
How do you create comfort and warmth in your house?
I can’t believe it’s already the end of October. Where did this year go? I don’t think I’m ready for winter. Where I live, winter lasts about 6 months and is brutally cold. Today, I see the leaves all on the ground right and breathe in the damp cold air and I long for the days a mere 2 months ago of hot sun, warm wind and drinks on the patio. We are actually pretty lucky right now as we still do not have snow on the ground. I recall when I was a kid in the 80′s that every single year that I went Trick-Or-Treating on Halloween I had to trudge through knee deep snow! I have photographic evidence. My brother and I had to squeeze our costumes over our large parkas and ski pants. It wasn’t a very good look, but it did the job and kept us warm when we were out yelling at houses for candy for hours on end. My Dad always escorted us around the neighbourhood, while Claudia stayed at home in our warm house and handed out candy. It was either chivalry on my Dad’s part or he was terrible at coin tosses. I honestly don’t feel sorry for kids these days when all they have to do is jump through a pile of leaves.
I’ve been craving comfort food more and more these days. This Bruschetta Chicken Bake is one of my favourites. It’s super simple. Like 6-ingredient simple. I actually found it in one of my old Kraft Canada magazines about 8 years ago. I once brought some leftovers to work for lunch and my former corker, and now best friend Carly, smelt it and immediately had to try a sample. She fell in love with it too and made it for dinner the next week….and brought leftovers for lunch! What I also love about this dish is that it’s kind of like having breaded chicken, without the heavy breading. The Stove Top crumbs become incredibly moist when combined with the stewed tomatoes. Tons of flavour in this dish. Total comfort food.
It’s been extremely cold here in Winnipeg over the past 4 days. Like, seriously cold. I’m talking -40 degrees celsius cold! We had our car not start and require boosting twice in two days. We might now be on a first name basis with Dr. Hook Towing (thanks guys!). I completely admire people who can continue to eat healthy when it’s freezing outside. I totally crave comfort food, such as soups, chilli and this amazing casserole. Okay, so I not only crave comfort food when the weather is terrible. I also crave it when I am sick – like last week when I hurt my back and managed to eat my body weight in chicken fingers and fries. Don’t judge me – you’ve totally done this too.
I completely fell in love with this casserole a couple years ago when my fiancé made it for me on one random weekend. It’s the best casserole in the entire world. At least, in my humble opinion it is. I convinced him to make it again, only this time for the purposes of teaching me (and my loyal blog followers) the secret to its deliciousness. Needless to say, I soon realized this recipe is extremely simple, which is perfect on days when all you want to do is hide under the covers and hibernate.
Well kids, you don’t get any more Ukrainian than this. Borsch – i.e. Beet soup. Whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s one of the most traditional and delicious recipes my Mother inherited from her own Mother (my Baba).
Claudia typically makes Borsch mid-to-end of summer when there is an abundance of beets in our garden in Saskatchewan, and on every holiday occasion (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas). For a recipe that is relatively simple to make, there are so many variations around. I am pretty certain I’m biased, but this one is truly the best out there.
Growing up we always had meat in our Borsch – usually boiled chicken or pork. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a boiled meat kinda girl. So when I got old enough and decided it was time to throw a fuss, Claudia only served this vegetarian-style Borsch recipe to our family. Yes, I am a spoiled princess. But I’m still right – this rendition tops the meat varieties any day.