92 days of winter survival plan

autumnThe last surviving autumn leaves in our garden

Here in the southern hemisphere, winter has hit. I live in Australia’s capital city, Canberra and it really turns winter on. So the 92 days of a Canberra winter have begun and I’m frantically thinking of how I can enjoy winter, rather than endure it this year.

The summers in Canberra are perfect – it rarely gets beyond 40 degrees, and the overnights are very bearable with a sheet on the bed and the quiet whispers of a cooling ceiling fan. We love our house in summer because we have a pool and various outdoor eating areas to enjoy alfresco dining. It’s on those long summer nights with a glass of wine and the sun setting I thank my lucky stars and can’t believe the life I am leading.

But that lifestyle is still 910 days away and I need to live for now, rather than focusing on when my life will be better once we are financially independent. So I have started a survival list of things to inspire me during the 92 days of winter.

  • Knit my cosy bed blanket. I have purchased some chunky Peruvian wool (like 10 skeins) and have started knitting a large blanket to really keep us toasty during the -6 degree over nights here in Canberra. Just knitting that thing keeps me warm as it continues to grow beyond my lap to my knees as I am knitting.

 

  • I have discovered chai lattes. A little late to the piece, but I made this yesterday, along with some cashew milk and OH MY – it’s like a hug in a cup. Beautiful winter spices in a warm mug in my hands. Yesterday’s recipe was a little ad lib, but worked beautifully:

Chai Latte

  • In a small pot, fill up half way with water and put on the stove top
  • Add to the pot a couple of cinnamon quills, some fresh ginger chopped, grated fresh nutmeg, some allspice, some vanilla pods or paste and some cardamom. I haven’t given quantities here because it really is an individual preference about how spicy you like it.
  • Simmer for five minutes to enable the spices to infuse, and then add two earl grey tea bags for another five minutes.
  • Cool and transfer to a container for the fridge you can use when you need a little warm pick me up. You could either drink this tea heated, or whip up some milk/cashew milk or other nut milk and add half and half with a teaspoon of honey, warm it through and enjoy.

 

chai tea

My chai tea mixture next to my favourite smokey wintery smelling candle

  • If you are home, follow the sun around your home. I have written about this before but I watch how the sun heats up particularly areas of my home naturally and I design my day around where I can catch the most sun.

 

  • Of course days like today are no good for sun catching – it’s overcast and super cold. So basic one I know, but for now I put on more clothes to stay warm, rather than using the indoor heating. I was listening to a financial podcast where one FIRE interviewee just wears a onesie all day and doesn’t put the heating on at all. I’m not at that extreme yet, but I will spend the time to design my stay at home days around the weather.

 

  • Right now the house is 18 degrees but the temperature will fall throughout the day without any sun to warm up through the double glazed windows. So I am doing my indoor work this morning; will grab a bite of lunch here and then head out in the afternoon to complete my tasks – taking an old chest of drawers and office chair to the second hand place; visit my daughter; read up on my favourite magazines in the library and find other cosy, free spots to relax until David comes home and I can justify putting the heating on. One of the greatest pleasures for us is the gas fire we installed during our renovations. It has a mesmerising flame and pushes out heat.

 

  • Make slow cooked soups and stews that are homecooked, without anything artificial and fill up your belly with yummy warm, flavourful, rich food. Last night I made bone broth too, which is a great base for soups, with bones from the butcher, left over vegetable scraps I collect in the freezer, bay leaves and apple cider vinegar.

bone broth

So there’s my top six for now. What do you do to enjoy winter?

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Wintery cauliflower soup

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It’s definitely winter in the nation’s capital – even predicted to snow tomorrow in higher urban areas. This is a B&W photo of our view from the balcony of our house yesterday.

Thankfully when I moved her in 2006 I invested in the right bedding and outerwear to cope.

Still it looks bleak and wintery. Just the time for warm winter soups to warm the spirit.

In the suburban veggie patch, I am growing broccoli and brussel sprouts this year. Cauliflowers too are cheap ($2 each) and in season, so I found this quick and easy recipe in the latest winter edition of Good magazine (a New Zealand based publication that has piqued my interest of late).

I don’t eat onions or garlic, so I substituted my home grown spring onions, some homemade chicken stock from the freezer, a squeeze of lemon from our bountiful lemon tree and I had some left over cream in the fridge. Delicious.

In cooking this soup, I timed it carefully. I have a tendency to leave soups on the stove and overcook the beautiful, fresh seasonal ingredients, so this time I followed the timing in the recipe to a tee and it tastes delicious.   A sprinkle of parmesan and some crusty homemade bread rolls are just the trick.

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This is a picture of soup once I added my still partially frozen home made chicken stock.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup (courtesy of Good Magazine, Issue 43)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp of butter

1 medium onion

3 gloves of garlic

1-2 green cardamom pods, crushed

Half a cauliflower, chopped, including the stalks

Juice of half a lemon

3 cups water or vegetable stock

½ cup cream

Freshly ground salt and pepper

Method:

In a saucepan on moderate heat gently sauté onion until translucent. Reduce the heat and add garlic, cardamom, chopped cauliflower and lemon juice and cook for about ten minutes until everything is slightly toasted by not browned.

Transfer everything to a lidded saucepan, add water, cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for approx. 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is soft. Remove from heat and cool slightly

When cool, take out cardamom pods and blend until smooth. Before serving, bring to boil and stir in cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Yummo.