Thursday, January 24, 2019

winter, writing, food

In my last post, I talked about winter hibernating because we were due for a big snowstorm. We did indeed get that storm, but not quite as much as they predicted. However, that storm must've triggered winter vibes to the Powers That Be because now we're getting slammed. It's been nothing but snow, ice and cold since then. Here's the front of my house yesterday morning before I shoveled. The snow was wet and heavy with a layer of ice underneath from the ice storm two days ago. Not fun! Not that it ever is.

The backyard looks pristine and peaceful with the snow, but don't let that postcard look fool you.

Temps are dropping down to -9F tonight with high winds, which means blowing and drifting snow. Then comes another big snowstorm Sunday night into Monday. On top of it, record-breaking cold will follow the snowstorm all next week where wind chills could be -40 to -50F.

This past Sunday night was the Blood Wolf Moon. Did any of you get to see it? Of course, it was bitter cold here but I was excited to see this event, so I bundled up like Nanook of the North and went outside at 10:40 PM to watch. I was wearing leggings underneath Brian's flannel-lined LL Bean jeans, a scarf over my face, thick socks on my feet stuck in very warm fur-lined boots, and a parka that came down to my knees. I stayed nice and toasty and the black winter sky was beautiful with the blood moon and the visible stars. My cousin in Tacoma, WA saw this photo of me and she was like, "Stoppp! How do you guys stand it there?!" I told her us Chicagoans are hardy people. And I guess we shrug it off as just another winter. But yeah, that air really does hurt our face. (And we complain about the weather a lot.)

While I've still been in hibernation mode, one of the things I've been working on is my writing. I'm taking a writing workshop in Chicago hosted by my First Best Friend, Cin who is a rather famous Chicago writer, poet and author and I'm also taking an online class from Jennifer Louden. I normally don't carve out a lot of time to just write. I'm learning the importance of giving myself permission to do so. The support of the other women writers in Cin's workshop are a great support. Of course, so are the women in Jennifer's online classes (there's a closed Facebook group and sometimes Jennifer does a live video chat), but it's so much better meeting with other writers in person.

I had a taste for quiche for breakfast lately but I didn't want the calories and carbs that traditional quiche offers, so I made a crustless one. It's just eggs and cheese whipped up with sauteed veggies and baked. I would've loved to use baby spinach or broccoli in this - it needs something green! - but I was out of both at the time. This dish isn't as rich as quiche since it doesn't have any milk or cream in it, so maybe this is more like a frittata. Whatever you want to call it, it's healthy and good. You could even make this for a light lunch or dinner with a lovely tossed salad.

I haven't baked in a long time, but when I saw a photo of the most delicious-looking chocolate chip cookies I'd ever seen on Instagram, I had to look into the recipe to see what it was about. You can find the recipe here on the Cookies and Cups blog. It's unique in that instead of using traditional white flour, it uses both bread and cake flours. They also highly suggest chopping your own chocolate instead of using chocolate chips. That way the hand-chopped chocolate chunks and shavings get dispersed into gooey globs of chocolate all throughout the cookie. From reading the comments on this blog post, I found out this is an original recipe of David Leite, which he had published in the New York Times. However, Leite said he developed the recipe based heavily on one from Jacques Torres.

This recipe was a bit labor intensive, especially with hand chopping a pound of dark chocolate - and then you have to wait at least 24 hours to make the cookies as the dough has to sit in the fridge - but I have to tell you, these were the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. They're obviously not a quick go-to cookie, but when you want something really special, this is the recipe you want to pull out. They're thin and crisp on the edges, chewy in the middle.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I wish I could say I was going back to hibernating, but I actually have a busy weekend. 

Counting the days 'til spring...


  1. I had to stop and print that cookie recipe! Oh Melanie, I can't believe how many snow storms you are getting there. And your hedge does look like a gorgeous postcard. But I know how much you hate all this winter so I hope next month they will stop. At least it must give you more time for getting some writing done and that's a really good thing. That egg dish looks so good!

  2. I found you from your comment on Dewena's blog. These sound terrific and I've bookmarked them! I usually use a mix of white and whole wheat. Thanks. Oh, and I am a big fan of winter! I love it all except if I have to worry about my family driving in it.

  3. It has been a hard January after a warmer early winter! It's going to be so freaking cold the tonight and for the next week! We headed to the store and stocked up cause who knows where can happen. Our old home is prone to power failures. I laughed when I seen what you looked like because that was me. I wear a winter mask that good to 40 below because my sinuitis is very sensitive to cold weather and this keep everything warm in side.! Be safe!

  4. My youngest son got the snowstorm in NY just in time to start his second semester of his junior year of college. I'm not a fan of cold at all so definitely would not fare well. The blood moon was supposed to be visible here early morning hours, which I wasn't planning to get up for, but turns out because of cloud cover we weren't able to see it anyways. It's been dreary here all week which leaves me feeling pretty listless. Stay warm!

  5. OMG I NEED THOSE COOKIES. But I am terrible at waiting.
    Also, I hate where we live. I think I have said that before. Waving my shovel in your direction.

  6. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in that deep cold. I guess bone chilling is an apt description. I enjoyed hearing about your writing workshop! It's so inspiring to be with other writers. I was in an online group that still meets on Facebook, but our instructor has taken a sabbatical for a while. I really miss her guidance. I looked at the link you shared for Jennifer, and earmarked some of her videos. (One of her workshops is scheduled for Longmont, Colorado, which is literally right up the road from me. It's full, but is kinda pricey, anyway.) The quiche looks delicious.

  7. It was snowing here a bit ago. Not much. We don't get a lot of snow. Those cookies sound delicious!

  8. Oh my goodness Melanie, I don't see how you can stand it, but then you probably don't see how I stand the heat and humidity down here in s.e. FL. ;-) Love that picture of you.

    I pray that you and Brian will be snug as two bugs in a rug over this snowy weekend. It does look pretty when it is fresh, but those -temps and having to shovel the snow, is just too much for FlowerLady.


  9. I feel your pain, Melanie...and it sounds like this next week will definitely be the time to hibernate...

  10. Mmmm, those cookies look really good! I've been craving chocolate chip cookies lately, so will probably have to make them now.

  11. Oh Melanie we are getting slammed and slammed again. Old Man Winter is really taking us for a ride. The 12 inches we got last Saturday are now frozen tight and now they are saying 15 more by Monday. Ugh!!!! I am so over this winter already. The cookies look yummy. Have a good weekend. Stay in and stay warm.

  12. Yes, I was just reading about your upcoming bitter cold weather - even more cold than usual by sound of it - make sure you stay warm and safe. I went outside at midnight to see that awesome moon - in pjs and a robe as it was quite mild - not trying to make you feel bad here my dear. I'm feeling guilty now about calling 32F FREEZING!!!!!

    Like your notes on writing and taking more time - I too am trying to plan my days better so I can do that. Your writing classes/workshops sound very interesting and as you already write so well Mel I think you will
    be top of your class in no time!

    Stay in and keep cooking and baking - one of the best ways to pass these winter days, and it keeps the kitchen snug.
    Hugs - Mary

  13. Oh Melanie, Living in Michigan City as a child I remember those terrible winters, only when you're a kid they don't seem so awful . . . they just seem fun :) Looks like you know how to bundle up and stay warm, I can almost see your pretty face, LOL.
    Spring is coming, even if it doesn't seem like it.
    Stay warm dear friend.
    Connie :)
    P.S. Your backyard does look very pretty :)

  14. It's just way, way too cold where you are. The air hurts my face here and it's only in the 20's. I can't imagine what it feels like there. Stay warm and thanks for the Jennifer Louden reminder. So many friends have mentioned her, I just signed up for the emails!

  15. Yikes! That is way too cold. I hope you are managing to stay warm. It looks like you have all of the necessary clothes for the job :).
    Your quiche and cookies look yummy and a great way to keep the kitchen warm while baking them.


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