When someone tells me “you’re from Pittsburgh, you should be used to the winter by now” I cringe. I hate cold weather. I hate snow. I hate short days, little sunshine, trees with no leaves, tough morning commutes, long sleeves, coats, and being cooped up. I always have. I always will, there’s no getting used to it. I’ve never been a fan of fall either, it just means things are dying and the winter is coming. Although self-diagnosed, I’d venture to say that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This year I’m going to try to embrace the season, or at least the season’s cooking, indoor activities, and maybe even some outdoor activities too.
Not that it’s all I like about summer, but summer food certainly has helped sway my preference towards that season. Fresh tomatoes, bbq, watermelon, salads, plums, peaches, apricots, basil, cilantro, and ice cream all have very special places in my heart. Fall and winter flavors, although I certainly enjoy them, to me, don’t equal summer. I’m not one of those people who can’t wait for pumpkin spice to come back. This year, though, I’m going to give it a go and embrace the fall and winters, and the flavors they bring. I’ve already made pumpkin pancakes, although this hardly counts as using seasonal ingredients because the pumpkin I used came from a can. This is just the beginning though.
My garden does have fall veggies that I planted in August (many of the seeds I got from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Main’s First Floor seed bank). I didn’t plant pumpkin or squash, but I have beans, leeks, green onions, lettuce, celery, and several herbs. I also have a rosemary plant that I brought inside for the winter, as rosemary has the same climate preferences as me. I’ll also need to buy many of the fall flavors and ingredients from the grocery store (or farm, as we’ll be visiting local farms this fall, more on that later). But where do I start with putting fall and winter ingredients together in a fall and winter kind of way? Where do I start with anything I want to do, with books from the library of course!
My selections to start with:
Autumn nights, winter mornings : a collection of cold weather comfort foods – Barbara Scott-Goodman
Winter food : seasonal recipes for the colder months Jill Norman
The Winter Harvest Cookbook by Lane Morgan
Of course part of embracing the fall and winter will be enjoying the traditional celebration foods of those months, and the celebrations themselves. Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cookies, and all of the casseroles that various family members prepare this time of year are excellent, not to mention the celebrations that they’re served at. That’s another element of embracing the season, to focus on all of the festivities and traditions that happen this time of year. I love any excuse to spend time with my family, which luckily for me live nearby. Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, and New Years are all holidays that we celebrate together. My oldest daughter’s birthday is in November too. There are plenty of reasons to be around friends and family. But what about going to the dreaded outdoors in the cold, the rain, the snow, the wind?
Again, I’m going to try to be at one with even that aspect of these seasons. Luckily, here in Pittsburgh there are lots of great farms with fall festivals. There are 2 that are within a 15 minute drive of our house. We’ll be doing the pumpkin patch, hayrides, and buying apples and apple cider (fresh apples are an excellent part of the fall). Here is a list of local fall festivals to enjoy!
Now, being outdoors in the fall is one thing, but in the winter is quite another. But, then again, I do have 2 daughters who will be happy to get out and play in the snow. My goal is to take them out to play in the snow a bit more this year than last year. I’m going to be realistic, it will be cold and uncomfortable, but seeing their faces as they make snowmen or throw snowballs should make up for the temperature. Plus we’ll get to enjoy hot soup, tea, chocolate, and coffee when we come inside. Well, okay, the coffee is for me, not the kids, but you get the idea. We’ll be building some fun family traditions and memories.
While I read all year round, winter is a great time to settle in with your preferred warm beverage and enjoy a good book. I already have one holiday favorite, I’d love to learn about some new ones,seeing that I’m trying to change my attitude about this time of year. Please share some of your favorite seasonal or holiday books, and I’ll be sure to check them out!
I’m also choosing seasonal and holiday books for my children, in an effort to help them better enjoy the festive season. Making seasonal and holiday reading a part of their holiday tradition will certainly make this time of year more special for them! Please visit your local Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location where the children’s staff will be more than happy to recommend some great seasonal, age appropriate books for your kids!
You know what, with all this stuff, the fall and winter actually seem like something to look forward to. Spending time with loved ones, different flavors and ingredients, and some great activities and traditions! I don’t know, it might actually be downright tolerable. Cheers!