Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cold Weather & Comfort Food

As much as I love summer, I think all the time in the Arctic has made me appreciate the more temperate days where the sun is out yet there's still a bit of a chill in the air. It's probably because days like that - especially in the autumn - were few and far between. In the Arctic we transitioned rapidly from summer to cold and rainy then most years we were quickly thrust into winter with only a day or two of real autumn weather. Those sunny, cool, autumn days in the Arctic were fabulous.
Light quality is something I think about a lot and something that brings back memories of being in certain places. I had an appointment this morning and while walking to the tram at 8:15am I was struck with how much I was reminded of living in Victoria the autumn after I graduated from high school and walking to work in the early morning. The light quality, the coolness in the air, all those sorts of things. It was kind of comforting and familiar. So, it's April and feels very much like September. Weird.
Most evenings when we leave work there's one or two people that immediately comment on how cold it is and I'm always thinking "yeah, it's cold but it's NICE!". The air is fresh and it feels like you can finally breathe again after the stifling heat of the summer.

One of the quirky things about our apartment (and a lot of Australian homes) is that furnaces/ducted heating is a bit of a rare thing. A lot of places have a gas fireplace type thing in the livingroom and then people get by with space heaters in other rooms. The one positive about this is the fact that your gas/electricity bills would be a fraction of what they are in North America (ignoring that you counteract a bit of that if you have A/C). One of the negatives about this is the fact that if it's cold outside you can be reasonably assured that it's cold inside too.
Thankfully, despite my love of all things summer, I love tea, soup, stews and warm, comforting food. Those also happen to be some of my favourite foods to cook.
Glen happens to not really enjoy hot drinks or soup (unless it's of the 2-minute noodle or cup-a-soup variety) so when I'm really craving soup I either have to make two meals or we have to compromise. I generally don't mind cooking something else but I love when I can find something warm and comforting that we both enjoy.

We seem to have hit a winner with risotto. I made it a few times before we came to Australia despite not being able to get arborio rice and knew it was something I could make without a lot of fuss. I've been thinking of making it for a while now and then last weekend I had an amazing risotto at a hotel/pub in the city. I've been craving it since! Risotto has been my go-to menu food here in Australia if there's nothing else I can see on the menu (especially when I want warm food). I've had some pretty terrible ones and then there's been some pretty awesome ones. The worst one had some weird tangy tomato/pasta sauce mixed in. It was so disappointing.

I decided to make a mushroom risotto (swiss brown/cremini and white button) because Glen loves all things mushroom and I've been slowly transitioning into eating more of them (loved them as a kid then suddenly decided I hated them for most of my life and now I've started enjoying them again).
Glen loved the risotto so much yesterday that he eagerly agreed to have it again tonight. I made a few minor adjustments and I have to say that it turned out pretty darn awesome. I'm happy that this is a dish that will likely be in heavy rotation this winter.

Temperature: +15C
Sunrise: 6:58am
Sunset: 5:37pm


Abby said...

Might I recommend chicken pot pie from this recipe:

It is one of our favs as the weather gets cold, and it's very easy. Also, if you want a vegetarian option, simply add in other root vegetables and take out the chicken, while using vegetable stock for flavoring. Yum!

Megan said...

mmm! Thanks! Pot-pie has been on my list of to-dos actually. Maybe we'll have it tonight! Thanks!!!