You don’t need me to tell you! It seems like half of the bloggers I follow are writing about how cold it is where they live right now. Everyone expects it to be cold at this time of year where we live in Eastern Ontario, so wintry photos are no surprise on my blog. Bone-chilling cold is something that we move in and out of throughout a typical winter, but there is something really nefarious-sounding about experiencing a spillover of the ‘polar vortex’, which is stretching all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Brrr!
The picture here of our dog Reggie looks really chilly due to the frosted whiskers around his face, but that photo was taken on a comparatively mild day before the real cold set in. Before we found ourselves easily in three feet of snow that has built up over the last month or so. The dog has become canny and has taken to largely walking behind us in the trail that we’ve made with our snowshoes in recent weeks, because the snow is so incredibly deep. In this deep freeze the paths have become so hard-packed it’s easy to walk in them without the aid of snowshoes, but stepping off the trail is another matter. I broke ground without snowshoes with the dog on a different part of our property for about five minutes in this morning’s wind-driven cold, and could suddenly understand how quickly one could become stranded and at risk of dying out in the cold without the right gear. There is nothing so daunting as trudging through deep snow in profound cold.
And there is nothing so easy as staying inside when it’s this cold. Staying inside and generating some heat through baking and cooking is a pretty good option, as is eating and creating more warmth by burning through some delicious calories. Yesterday my older boy made his truly yummy cinnamon buns (gluten free, but sinfully tasty). Consider that my final tease; I will provide the actual recipe very shortly.
Tonight I made kedgeree with smoked salmon. It doesn’t look like much, but this historic British dish from colonial days in India, is super easy to throw together and very satisfying comfort food (if you’re a fan of rice, eggs and fish). For more reading, there is a nice potted history of kedgeree on the Telegraph’s website, a lovely treatment by Jamie Oliver, and a very serviceable shortcut version on the BBC website. The BBC recipe is the one I turned to tonight, and it’s a great pantry creation (apart from the eggs).
My youngest has been getting in on the cooking too, whipping up bacon, eggs and toast one tea-time. He’s more of a baker and likes to help out with special projects like canning, but has been bitten by the cooking bug. Being cooped up can help develop new interests! In compiling a list of the dishes he’d like to master, he noted a roast chicken, saying ‘it can’t be that hard – you just throw it in the oven for two hours!’
So, what is wind chill anyway? I think anyone experiencing this polar vortex, even if they didn’t believe in or understand windchill before, will get it now. My husband recently found one description of windchill that he’s quite fond of: it involves a person of average height walking through a field at night, with no wind, at a base temperature, and then there’s some calculation for degrees in windchill for every something or other…see, it was obviously very memorable for me. When I went digging, however, I discovered that there doesn’t seem to be a single agreed scientific method for calculating this controversial measurement. All formulas come down to one basic fact: wind hastens heat loss, so the windchill factor is really about how intensively heat loss is hastened as the wind increases. As anyone knows, even a gloriously warm and sunny day can suddenly turn surprisingly chilly with the appearance of a cool breeze, so if you add fierce winds to an already wintry setting, it’s going to get nasty. These two contributions from Environment Canada and BBC News are good primers.
It’s definitely a night for the hot water bottle, which I’ve written about here before, and curling up with a good book. I’m sending out particularly warm thoughts to those of you who aren’t used to the cold that has suddenly come your way, as well as to those, like us, who may be used to it but are no fonder of the deep freeze than anyone else! What are you doing to stay warm, in body and/or spirit?