Oh, Canada. How I love you and your vast array of weather patterns. From a balmy Ontario +12 degrees just a couple of weeks ago, to the 3-feet of snow that is now blocking my front door, you certainly keep us all on our toes. While it is very easy, and sometimes even necessary to complain about these wild swings, I do appreciate that we live in a place where seasons do change, and we are provided with a variety of opportunities to step out into different experiences. As noted in previous entries, our family encourages taking steps and doing our part to care for the health of environment, and while I recognize there’s a lot to unpack with weather patterns and climate change, that’s not the path I want to head down with this blog. We do our best to do our part in the care of our world, and a significant piece of that comes through encouraging our girls to head outside so that they can, first-hand, appreciate the spaces around them, resulting in a developing desire for them to want to protect the things they enjoy. With mounting piles of snow staring at me from through the window, this seems like a great day to do just that.
Knowing that the storm was looming, we made the decision to leverage this weekend as one to very purposefully stay home. We blocked out our calendar, did our meal planning, grabbed a few back up essentials, namely potato chips for dad, and sat the girls down to make a list of how we would want to use the day we’re being presented with. We went a few times around the horn, giving space for each member of the family to come up with some things they’d like to try and leverage the events of the coming day in ways we don’t normally get to:
- Read Harry Potter as a family in the back room
- Clear the driveway but don’t use the car
- Bailey’s in the coffee
- Cinnamon buns for breakfast
- Bailey’s in the second coffee
- Board Games
- Video Games
- Make an outdoor fire and roast marshmallows
- Enjoy as much of the mild temperature and sun shine as possible
- Hot tubbing
- Make something seasonally and locally inspired*
- Build a snow man
- Build an entire village of snow folk (for some reason daddy always feels the need to ‘go big’)
- Quiet time alone in our rooms for reading, drawing, crafts and writing
The idea of this list is not to apply pressure that these things must get done, but instead it is to prepare our mindset, shifting it from “it’s a snow day, I guess we are stuck inside all day” to “how can we embrace tomorrow for all the ways it will differ from today”. So when Saturday morning came and the 7:30am call from upstairs rang out from Audrey’s room as: ‘Daddy can we make a snow man now?’, I was a pretty happy papa.
I’d like to pause here and take a quick moment to recognize all of the road maintenance vehicle operators, hydro teams, internet service technicians, emergency services folk, shift workers, and anyone else whose experience with a weather event like this isn’t about planning something ‘fun’ but rather a tense, strategic and generally unwelcome and potentially dangerous event. There are many things we take for granted in our homes and lives, and while we may be annoyed that our wifi has gone out, it’s important to take a moment to acknowledge that no one intended for it to happen, and that the repair likely requires someone on-call being hauled out into the middle of a snow storm to assess and repair so that we can continue enjoying the newest episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, or whatever it is the kids are watching these days. To all who must brave these conditions, I thank you, and my hat has been tipped.
So, in this household, at least for the moment, I am writing out my thoughts while I gaze through the window at a village blanketed in quiet snow and the peaceful swaying of branches. The bouquet of freshly-baked cinnamon buns dances through air of each room, slow-poured coffee and Bailey’s sits beside me near the fireplace, and the only sound I hear is Nora, reading stories in bed to her sister upstairs. I am looking forward to the things on our list, whether or not they get done, as well as whatever wasn’t planned that happens to come about. It’s a quiet day, a slow day and a good day.
However the weather and the situation finds you, I hope you are safe, warm and doing the things that bring you joy, spark a memory, and surround you in love.
*I have recently decided to challenge myself to up my culinary game and try out some new recipe ideas by using locally sourced and inspired ingredients. It’s not a complex concept: I stroll downtown and find two ingredients from two different stores and try to bring them together somehow. Occasionally I may share my creation here, for anyone interested; and today’s seemed relevant given the topics of snow, warmth and comforts. Enjoy, though I must warn you: this is not a healthy-eating blog, and this is an incredibly indulgent soup…
Beer and Cheddar Soup
- 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 355ml Elora Brewing Co. Lorelei Keller Pilsner
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter….always unsalted, I will not give up that fight.
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
In a large sauce pan or stock pot, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp; transfer the bacon to a bowl, but keep the fat in the pan
Add the leek, onion, jalapeño, and thyme to the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until just softened and onions are translucent
Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half
Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
In a separate saucepan, melt the butter, watching closely so not to burn or brown.
Add the flour to the butter and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Whisk this roux into the soup until incorporated and bring to a simmer until it starts to thicken.
Use an immersion blender, or transfer to a counter-top device and blend until completely smooth; you can take the added step of straining after blending to ensure a perfectly smooth and velvety texture.
Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy. Check for seasoning
Serve with toppings on the side: bacon, steamed broccoli and, of course, Elora bread and croutons for dipping
Cheddar Crusted Croutons
- 100g 5-year aged cheddar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 thick slices of Elora Bread Co. County loaf bread
- Pre-heat oven to 350
- Crumble the cheddar and puree with the olive oil, thyme, rosemary and pepper in a food processor until smooth.
- Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes and place in a large bowl.
- Add the cheese mixture to the bread cubes and mix by hand until they are evenly coated.
- Place on a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning every few minutes until lightly brown and crispy