Christmas is only two days away, and most of the country is in a deep-freeze. I think it's about time to share some secrets to staying warm around the holidays, inside and out. Following are my top-three ways to cut the chill. I would love to hear what you like to do to stay toasty and spirited when it gets cold outside.
Hot chocolate. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I love to savor good chocolate. Not just any chocolate will do. It has to be dark; the darker and more bitter, the better. A good friend of mine once wisely advised me to turn to hot chocolate to satisfy a craving. I can't say I do this all the time, but the following recipe makes for an incredibly rich, if not ever-so-slightly decadent, winter treat:
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 ounces 100% unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until steam rises from surface. Whisk in chocolate and sugar, continuing to whisk until sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in vanilla. Reduce heat to low and serve in small cups.
The original recipe says that it serves six to 12. Twelve might be pushing it, but this drinking chocolate is so rich, I'd be impressed with anyone who could consume more than a modest cup of it.
Holiday baking. Nothing keeps a house warm like baking cookies, and lots of them. I dedicated a good portion of the past weekend to baking Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk, Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk and Ginger Molasses cookies to cut through the cold and add to the holiday spirit.
White Christmas. There are a few holiday movies that are required watching in our household between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My favorite, though, is Irving Berlin's White Christmas (1954). It may come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that a movie featuring the gloriously contrived show-within-a-show plot line might be a must-watch around here. White Christmas showcases Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney's singing and Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen's dancing (and waistline), requiring its audience to suspend disbelief so dramatically that watching this movie has become, for my family anyway, the greatest holiday escape.
You can imagine my glee when I found out that Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Musical debuted a few years ago in San Francisco and has since toured the United States. It is now on Broadway. I happened to catch an exhilarating performance of it at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre in 2006 and nothing has topped it since. At first it took some doing on my part to get past the absence of Bing Crosby, but the finale was completely thrilling. Nothing gets me in the holiday spirit faster than listening to the music from White Christmas, The Musical, even if I do still miss Crosby, just a little.
So what do you do to stay warm during the holidays?