Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, is behind us but there are still many more cold and dark winter days ahead for us here on the Southern Hemisphere.
Traditions, recipes and rituals can bring a sense of ceremony to our days ahead and can whip winter into a wonderland even if you dread the cold weather as I do. As sun’s rays become scarce, I find it only natural to turn to good movies (Disney), slow cooker recipes, comfort foods and fruit and vegetables of the season for nourishment and the strength to carry on.
The seven things I rely on for keeping me entertained (with a sense of purpose), nourished and healthy are also rich in story, vitamins, fibre, and heat. I hope you find them useful too.
We finally succumbed to peer pressure and checked out the movie all parents of young girls have been raving about – Frozen. At its core, it’s the story of sisterly love, and how can me, as an older sister (to a brother, but still) not love that?
In the film, Elsa is blessed and cursed with the ability to make snow and ice with her hands. As with all Disney films, you can feel the hero’s pain to the brink of getting misty-eyed. I think people with overwhelming creative ability, like the team behind Disney productions, channel their childhood heartbreaks into their characters who remind us time and time again we are all as unique as snowflakes.
Elsa is driven far away from her homeland, and from her younger sister Anna, when unable to control her emotions, she accidentally buries her homeland under snow and ice. Like all people who find themselves far from home and their families, (I’m looking at all you international student types), Elsa lets go of the past to come into her own and to create her own magical ice kingdom while the rest of the land finds itself in indefinite winter.
After watching this film with my girls we immersed ourselves in the song “Let it Go”, which has been playing over and over again in my mind. It’s a beautiful side note that the husband-wife team, Robert and Kristen, who wrote the song have two daughters of their own and they decided that Elsa wasn’t to be a typical Disney villain, but the heroine.
Let it Go
How can one listen to a song like that and not let go of some of the hang-ups of the past?
Another tradition I started this year to keep my heart warm and grateful is to write a letter to someone who is no longer in my life.
This year I chose my Auntie Fusun as the recipient of the letter. She was a stunning model with fiery red hair, born on one of the Northern Hemisphere’s sunniest days. It seemed appropriate that as the sun was becoming scarce in my part of the world, and the calendar approaching Fusun’s birthday, to say good-bye to someone who will eternally remind me of sun’s rays, summer days and courage.
After I wrote the letter, I burnt the paper and scattered the ashes on the soil where my parsley plant is growing, which you can see on the photo above.
What is winter without a heavy turtleneck sweater one can live in? Fortunately, I found a lovely snowflake pattern sweater at Red Cross in Lane Cove and I intend to wear it as much as I can.
Admittedly, I’m not a very good cook but that will change this year as I will bravely make more stews and curries using the handy slow cooker. A Lane Cove local (Hello Aryn!) sent me a recipe for a Russian hot and sour beef soup, Solyanka, which I will try cooking next week.
For added heat crushed chilis, paprika and curry powder will take up a permanent position on the kitchen bench. Chilis are also a great way to boost the immune system.
Being Turkish, I have many different types of soup I can make to keep me and family warm this winter. Aryn brought up Yayla soup, which is made with rice, yogurt and lots and lots of mint and is great for one’s digestive system. It is simple and quick to make and lentil soup is another easy one that requires onions, lentils, flour to thicken and sumac and lemon juice to season.
As you may have seen in the movie Frozen, a sauna on a cold winter day is pure heaven. Thankfully Fit Gym in Lane Cove has a dry sauna and a steam room. I made good use of it a few days ago and it made a huge difference in how I was thinking and feeling. Energy, in the form of heat, is a great pick me up.
Warm, Spiced Drinks
I have also made a permanent space on my kitchen bench for cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom and ginger. My favourite winter drinks are Chai Lattes, Turmeric and ginger tea, hot chocolate with cinnamon (and marshmallows!) and mulled wine.
If I can find a fireplace to sit in front of and sip, there’s really very little else I’d want this winter.
Over to you…
What are some winter traditions and recipes that have kept you warm inside and out over the years?