Monday, June 29, 2009

Giving Simple Comfort in Winter

Getting a family through winter can be tough, there is the driving wind and rain, frost, coughs and colds, but the bleak sunless days can be brightened with things that help make winter more joyful.

A hearty family meal can be more easily enjoyed together in winter than in summer, when we want hot comfort food to warm us up and bond around the dinner table. My favourites are piping hot gnocchi bake, pumpkin and lentil lasagna, rogan josh, and baked beef tortilla stack. Everybody has their own ideas and favourites, if you have a family where the kids can't agree on a favourite, you might make one night a week a roster for choosing dinner that night.

Getting your children to have their bath may be made easier if you gently warm their pjs and robes in front of the fire or heater (not too close!) so they are getting dressed into warm clothes that feel inviting and snuggly. I have a friend who made a rule, no hot chocolate for children who have not had their bath! If they put their own clothes in the hamper they get a marshmallow in their supper time drink.

Heating the home is one of the biggest worries in winter, as warmth equals comfort but most people are worried about the expense. I would definitely surrender new playstation games, pay tv, and take away pizza for a warm home through winter. The kids may complain to begin with but if you make home a happy, warm, and joyous place in winter, they will get over it, and remember winter days with pleasure all their lives. Eat, drink and be merry isn't just for the rich, you can simply and economically let the good times roll.

The cost of home baking is not too high, if you don't have the basic supplies to begin with the start up cost may be the kicker, after that most recipes are surprisingly economical. Hot muffins, teacake, puddings, and cookies are great in winter. They fill the home with lovely aroma, and raise the spirits and morale.

If you find in winter the children drink less milk and don't desire cold yoghurt you may be concerned about their calcium intake, but I experimented with warm banana smoothie and love it. I simply blend the smoothie as usual, with milk, icecream, banana, golden syrup, and cinnamon, and then pour it into a mug, and gently warm it in the microwave. It is warm and spicy velvety comfort in a cup.

Other than hot chocolate, chai latte is also very delicious and warming, and the spices are good for the heart, help regulate blood sugar levels, and encourage appetite. If you have had sickness in the house and you find the ailing does not have appetite, I would certainly encourage filling the air with the scent of vanilla or cinnamon. Apple and cinnamon muffins would be good, as is pie, chai latte, porridge with golden syrup, and baked apple.

I am not a fan of electric blankets or hot water bottles, but do like the wheat bags that you can heat, they are great for aches and pains as well as warming oneself up.

Winter is the worst time to be woken up for a child who has wet the bed, having to change the bedding in the cold is awful. To save time you might try this: put a fitted sheet straight on the mattress, then the flat sheet, then the waterproof mattress protector/rubber sheet, then a fitted sheet and flat sheet on top and make the bed up as normal. On the night your child does wet the bed you simply and quickly remove the top set of sheets, the mattress protector and you have the sheets made up ready, pop your child in and cover with the blanket and quilts, and hurry back to your warm bed.

And to make up for cutting back on the takeaway pizzas, here are my two favourite home made pizzas that are packed with flavour. Either make a simple pizza dough, or select your favourite pre made base, and spread with Master Foods Meditteranean Relish, it is really tangy and has pieces of onion, eggplant, capsicum, and olive in it. Then apply sweated red onions, fried mushroom, red capsicum, fried bacon, and either cherry tomatoes cut in halves or soft dried tomatoes, and plenty of cheese. For a pineapple pizza I use two tablespoons of Dolmio Sweet Basil or Classic Tomato pasta sauce (you will still have enough sauce left to make a full pot of pasta the next night using the sauce), pineapple pieces, ham or bacon, and plenty of cheese.

Now I am off to light the fire and warm myself up!

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