There isn’t much I love more in the world than brand new snow. After falling asleep in a world that is largely brown and barren it is such a treat to wake up to a glittering, sparkling snowfall–reflecting a million little sunrises back at us. “Isn’t it beautiful?!” I gasp and ask my children. This time of year can be a gift with the first few snowfalls often melting between each event.
I know that snow is a headache to many, and to them–to you, if you fall into this crowd–I am sorry. I am sorry that you miss out on this special slice of nature. I understand and fully know that shoveling driveways and front stoops and driving in and walking on unsteady ice can be far from fun. I recognize that my love of snow comes from a position of privilege in personal health and resources. So, I am sorry if you do not enjoy snow because of extenuating circumstances. I hope there is another way for you to enjoy snow’s silence, beauty, joy and sometimes otherworldly qualities!
It snowed for the first time here the day my last post went up, so about a month ago! That was a light, mostly inconsequential snow. Not much of it stuck for more than the afternoon, but it got our excitement flowing! Since then it has snowed several times and finally snowed enough to stick (well…as long as it doesn’t get blown away! Darn gale force glacial winds) a week and a half ago. It’s here! Winter is here! Woohoo!
With farming over, we’ve been aiming at playing outside for at least an hour every day. We’ve been fairly successful. Sledding, playing yard games, Going on nature walks, sledding, catching snow flakes on our tongues and going to the playground have all been great ways to get outside. The girls even went cross country skiing for a very short while the other day! They were so cute and very ambitious. Both of them immediately wanted to go down the fairly steep hill in our front yard. I let them attempt but regretted it :). Evan and I went on a date (rare!) and ended up cross country skiing up in the mountains where they had already groomed the trails! My favorite is off trail cross country skiing in the woods, but the snow isn’t deep enough yet. Soon!
Along with the recreation the snow offers, there is a kind of relaxation or acceptance that comes with the the first fall. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the drive to constantly question oneself and frantically finish tasks is calmed with the silence and beauty of snow. Perhaps it triggers something ingrained in us that says it’s here, you’ve prepared as much as you can. Now it’s time to see if you make it through. Luckily, our survival isn’t tied into our personal preparations (because we’d be screwed! ha!), so letting go is more of an emotional and mental respite than anything else. Time to read and snuggle! and bake yummy things! and drink hot cocoa!
Speaking of which…
I have an excellent “healthy” hot cocoa recipe for you. It makes me feel kind of terrible, but sometimes I have to bribe my children to come inside. Hot cocoa does the trick. However, I cringe at feeding them straight up processed-whatever is in the syrups and powders (having those once in a while is fine, but not every day…). There are some very yummy organic and gourmet cocoas that are just a few ingredients, but they are the kind of expensive that we reserve for a special treat!
So, here is my easy crunchy farmgirl mama “healthy” cocoa recipe (3-4 servings):
3 cups of whole fat milk (preferably local and organic!) or favorite dairy alternative
3 T. raw cacao powder
3 t. of real maple syrup or honey
pinch of sea salt
~1/4 t. vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in medium sauce pan. Constantly stir over medium heat to incorporate all ingredients. Remove from heat before boiling point is reached (steam rises and bubbles start to appear around edges of pan). Note flavors for future adjustments (sweeter? less chocolatey?).
I have purchased raw cacao from Amazon. It is a bit more expensive than regular cocoa powder, but I believe its flavor alone is worth it. Supposedly it has many health benefits, too! It is relatively high in zinc, iron, fiber, protein and antioxidants. We make our cocoa with cashew or hemp milk (because we don’t tolerate dairy very well, so sad!) and the flavor is rich, decadent, and all around lovely. We have an official hot cocoa stirrer which I believe helps incorporate the ingredients and make the drink nice and frothy! But I think a regular whisk or spoon would work just fine. You might even be able to froth it up with an immersion blender or some other fun kitchen gadget.
Next on my list: homemade marshmallows!
How is late fall or early winter where you are? Do you have a winter treat you are looking forward to? I hope this finds you warm and cozy!
Until next time,
Sending Peace and Love from Alaska,
Alex, the Rural Farmgirl