“In winter the forest sleeps, and into this dream world we go!”
COLLEEN VITTI “For me the best thing about the Hudson Valley/Catskills in the winter is the silence of the snow. When walking or cross-country skiing in the woods, sounds are muffled, which somehow seems to magnify the overall beauty.”
MATT PETRICONE “Every year when the air turns cold I’ve always looked forward to another season of being on snow. I began snowboarding in 1987 and I don’t think the nostalgic feeling will ever get old. There’s something so peaceful about heading up into the Catskills after a fresh snowfall and nothing beats a good powder day.
MELISSA HEWITT “Winter makes me really appreciate the warmth and safety of home. I could stay home for weeks on end just tending to the fire, reading books, taking walks, and working in front of a window of sparkly white. In fact, it’s literally what I do all winter. Hibernating and going inward makes the spring warmth and color all the more amazing.”
JOAN MACDONALD “For me, it’s the first hour after a big snowfall. The world is transformed, bright, white-laced, and so still. Walking in snow showers is fun too.”
“It makes us stronger and more resilient, there’s something special about knowing you’re taking good care of yourself and your family.”
JESSICA BRUSH “I love getting super cozy by wearing warm socks, layering lots of clothes, and sleeping in a sea of down and wool blankets. I also don’t mind the excuse to indulge in comfort foods.”
JESSE MARCUS “Moving to the Hudson Valley has brought me back to nature’s elements. There is also a really strong sense of community; you can be part of something but also have space to yourself. There’s always someone willing to lend a hand. I also enjoy the stillness; it feels like a time to reflect.”
PHOENIX TRENT “For me, wintertime coziness rivals the bright color parade of autumn and the blossoms of spring. Cuddling up close with loved ones by a toasty fire in the midst of a snowstorm, while indulging in a big bowl of beef stew, a hunk of fresh baked bread, and a glass of bourbon, is wonderfully comforting.”
CHARLENE V.MARTONI “Coming in from the cold to homemade hot chocolate is something I love about the winter, especially after a long day at work or a weekend out exploring the Hudson Valley.”
WOOD STOVE STEW
Yield: 8 servings
“This is a perfect weekend dish, as you can put it on a wood stove early and let the aromas fill the house until you can’t take it any longer and you just have to eat it!” —Phoenix
Cubed meat or beans and any vegetables and herbs you have on hand
Whatever produce and meat you have available can be mixed with a bundle of dried or fresh herbs to make for a sumptuously delicious stew. There are many winter farmers markets to choose from for ingredients. There’s no need to fuss over details; the great part of this dish is that it requires minimal planning and work to prepare.
Lightly dust 2 cups of one-inch cubes of meat (beef, chicken, or lamb) with whole-wheat flour (or your favorite alternative), and pan-fry them in a cast-iron pot on medium-high heat in a few tablespoons of olive oil until lightly browned. Add in chopped carrots, celery, onion, beets, parsnips, garlic, potatoes, and any other veggies or legumes you have on hand. If you want to make a vegetarian stew, just skip the meat and use beans instead. Add in salt and pepper to taste, a few chopped sprigs of rosemary and oregano, a splash of red wine, and water or stock to fill the pot. Put the pot on the wood stove, and let the stew brew and bubble for 2 to 5 hours until thick. If using a stovetop, cook on medium-low heat. Enjoy.
Yield: 4 cups
“Here’s a simple hot cocoa recipe, a variation on the traditional Hatian Chokola Peyi, which you’ll love.” —Charlene
2 cups of milk*
1 four-ounce bar of 100%
2 anise stars
1 cinnamon stick
1 fourteen-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk* 1 twelve-ounce can of evaporated milk*
1) Melt the unsweetened cacao in 3 cups of milk on medium-low heat.
2) Once the cacao is melted, add in 2 anise stars, 1 cinnamon stick, the sweetened condensed milk, and the evaporated milk.
3) Whisk and steep on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to bring the liquid to a boil, and whisk frequently to guarantee that it doesn’t burn.
4) Strain before serving, and garnish with a fresh cinnamon stick to stir. Mmmmmm.
*For a healthier version, try replacing the milks with cream of coconut and coconut milk.