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I’m writing this from the cozy comfort of a hotel room in a small town in New Jersey. Outside the trees are covered in snow. Having gone to college in Vermont, I’m used to the freezing temps and white-covered streets and sidewalks.
After I checked into the near-empty hotel, with only the small room service menu as my sustenance for the next 18 hours, I peeled off my puffy jacket and turned to the in-room dining page in the hotel binder. In seconds, I found exactly what I would order: the homemade chili and a green salad. (See my Starting a New Habit in 2014: Eat a Salad a Day post from last month — are you still eating salad? I am.)
Bundled up in my new pajamas (a Christmas gift from my daughters) and eating better-than-I-expected chili (and a salad) — all is right with my world. Why? Because there are certain foods that truly bring me comfort in the dead of winter: chili, onion soup and stew top my list. And while I can make those dishes any time, there is something magical about eating them on a snowy day. I think these comforting dishes remind me of my college years at The University of Vermont. My mom would visit me and we’d go on New England road trips, eating steamy soups and stews to thaw the chill (she went through a photography stage involving a lot of outdoor postcard-type shots, which she would subsequently frame and hang in our home).
I suppose the snow reminds me of that period in my life when I was young enough that I still had my mom, and yet old enough to be considered an adult worthy of joining my Mom on her photography haunts. According to her, the best photos were of untouched snow, which meant spending hours outside in the bitter winter. And a bowl of homemade chili would always hit the spot.
New Jersey isn’t as frigid or snowy as Vermont, but it certainly is cold (I may be the only one who is happy about that). Before March comes and takes away the cold that makes winter stews and soups so warming, I’m pulling out some favorites to share:
— White Chili with Quick Roasted Garlic for Food Network Magazine (pictured above)
What are your favorite cold-weather comfort foods?