This week, I have done a few things that have signalled to me that Winter is well and truly on its way.
Firstly, I was bringing in the garbage bins from the street when I slipped and fell on some wet leaves. I didn’t fall hard but I was able to look up, while flat on my back, and notice the large tree that was shedding Mother Nature’s confetti.
Secondly, I dug out my damp-smelling, wafty quilt to layer up the bed into a cocoon of odiferous, but comforting warmth. Comforting because it also smelt slightly like mothballs, which reminded me of my dearly departed and must missed Nanna.
Thirdly, I dusted off the old gas heater and set it up near my desk. Once I turned it on the house filled with the smell of a dozen, flaming cobwebs.
And finally, I brewed up a huge batch of Pea and Ham soup which resulted in another type of gas emissions that did not blend in well with mold, burning cobwebs OR mothballs.
Winter is my favourite season. I think English Poet Edith Stilwell said it best.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
So true Edith, because by the time June rolls around, it is too bloody cold to go outside unless necessary. Particularly in parts of our country.
I went to university in Bathurst, in country New South Wales and I will never forget the cold there. Walking to classes with my ears frozen, gloves and scarves thrown on over flannelette pyjama tops, pants over tights and many other numerous layers.
It was not a good look, and on reflection might have had something to do with my lack of red-hot lovin’ that I failed to enjoy during those years.
Pfftt. It was too cold anyway. That is my truth and I am sticking to it.
Now as we prepare for the oncoming onslaught of chilly evenings and fresher-than-fresh dawns, I thought I would put together a little checklist of things we can do to prepare for Winter.
- Trim your bush. This will ensure robust growth and fine flowering come springtime. Leave this task to mid-winter for best results.
- Stock up on pantry essentials. Have all the ingredients for a Hot Toddy, should you succumb to a tickly throat. Mix together a generous swig of Whisky, boiling water and honey. Slug back enthusiastically. Problem sorted.
- Air out all of your winter clothes. Go through and pull out items that have been eaten by moths. Put them aside with good intentions to darn the holes. Realise that you will never darn the holes. So wear holey clothes.
- Remember to think about scheduling a time to diarize making an appointment to get the flu shot.
- Throw out your razor and grow an extra layer of personal insulation.
- Scrape green fuzz off your leather boots.
- Dust off the slow cooker.
- Locate your dressing gown and slippers.
- Cancel all social engagements where one might need to leave the house of an evening.
- Buy nasty floral draft stoppers from the $2 shop.
- Talk about taking the kids skiing.
- Price a skiing holiday.
- Put the kybosh on taking the kids skiing.
- Invest that money into firewood and a new deck of UNO cards.
Make my Pea & Ham Soup!
1 1/2 cups green split peas (rinsed)
2 sticks celery
1 brown onion
2 small potatoes
3 garlic cloves
700g ham hocks (get your butcher to chop the hock up)
8 cups cold water
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Make a mirepoix. Don’t be scared! It is just a fancy French way of saying chop up the carrot, onion and celery into small pieces. Whack this into a large saucepan with a splash of Olive Oil and the crushed garlic. Cook away for a few minutes then bung in your hock and split peas before covering the whole lot with the water.
Bring it to boil before chucking in the diced potatoes. Bring it back to simmer and leave it for 2 hours, checking on it occasionally like you might do a sleeping baby.
Make a hot toddy, because you think you have a tickly throat, and take a nanna doze on the couch. Instruct someone to wake you after 2 hours and before the house burns down.
Fish out the ham bones and set aside. Get a whizzy stick blender device and blast your green broth. Remove the meat from the bones and shred it back into the soup. Season with salt and pepper, and if you are super adventurous, a bit of chili.
Then, as Edith prescribes, hold your friends hand in front of the fire, while using the other hand to slurp the soup.
And praise all the good things about winter.
Are you a Winter Advocate?
And can someone PLEASE tell me the correct way to pronounce Mirepoix?
MORE STORIES BY MRS WOOG
*About Mrs Woog: “I can be found in the laundry, folding laundry, sorting laundry and dropping off the dry cleaning. I am mum to two boys, boss of my husband and master of a cat and two guinea pigs. Come nightfall, I watch TV while tweeting which drives Mr Woog insane. I like to read cookbooks and eat out. During my waking hours I ferry kids around in the Mazda while drinking takeaway coffees and listening to talkback. I think about going to the gym every day. I used to work in the publishing industry before I realised it was nothing like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld made out like it was. Now I write this blog. And I never get writer’s block. It is a gift I have.” You can follow me on Twitter: @Woogsworld.