Need a Cure for Your Winter Woes?

Wow! What a winter we’re having. This year, the problem is that it just keeps coming and coming. But the good news is that skiing, sledding, and ice skating spots are still in prime condition. How do you spend your snow days?

Chuck and I were lucky to spend two weeks in Hawaii the first part of February. Our plan was to miss the worst of winter here in Maine. While we did miss some major storms, we certainly haven’t missed it all. Our first week back, we had five different snow events. Take a wild guess at where we’d rather be:

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All this talk of snow and knowing that winter here in Maine really doesn’t end until April (if we’re lucky), my mind immediately drifts to comfort food. When we know there’s an incoming storm, Chuck builds a big fire in the fireplace, puts on some beautiful music or a movie, and off to the kitchen we go.

You’ll forget it’s even winter still with our go-to seasonal cures: booze, soup/stew, and pasta, oh my! Bring on the storms!

Nancy’s Eggnog

8 large eggs
1/2cups sugar
4 cups whole milk
1 cup brandy, rum or a combination of both
1 ½ cups well-chilled heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

In a saucepan beat the eggs well, beat in the sugar gradually, and beat in 2 cups of the milk. Heat the mixture over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until it registers 175 degrees on a candy thermometer then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the remaining 2 cups milk, chill the mixture until cold and stir in the brandy.

Just before serving, beat the cream until it holds soft peaks, fold the whipped cream into the milk mixture gently but thoroughly and sprinkle the eggnog with the nutmeg.

Makes about 8 1/2 cups

Simple Chicken and Vegetable Soup

To make stock:

1 whole previously roasted chicken
½ large onion, quartered
3 carrots, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
3 whole peppercorns
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a soup pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer several hours.

To make soup:

1 large onion, quartered
5 carrots, chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
10 red potatoes, chopped
1 bag of frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste

Strain the broth into another soup pot. Pull chicken off the bones and set aside. Discard bones and vegetables and bay leaves and peppercorns.

Sauté onions, carrots, and celery and add to the broth. Add in potatoes and cook until al dente. Add back in pulled chicken and season to taste. May add chicken base to enhance the chicken flavor.

Turn this soup into a stew by adding more vegetables and thickening with potato starch.

Turn this stew into a chicken pot pie by thickening the stew a little more, cooling it down and placing into a pie plate lined with pie dough and top with more pie dough or even mashed potatoes and baking at 375 degrees until golden brown. YUMMMMMMY comfort food!

This recipe is from my good friend Pat Ganz:

Patrizia Sauce

I first tasted a similar sauce in Bologna. Returned home, recreated same. Use a 12-quart pan for eight hearty meals for two! This sauce freezes well.


4 cups diced peppers (green, red, yellow—your choice)
1 to 2 full cups fresh basil
1 cup fresh parsley
2 to 3 large diced sweet onions
6 to 9 whole peeled cloves garlic (fresh, to avoid “tinny taste’)

Set aside diced and other vegetables.

4 lbs ground beef (90 or 95 % fat free)
12 or 15 Italian hot sausages (5″ long)

Render ground beef on high heat in a separate pot, then strain fat from beef and put aside.

Pierce each sausage in several places with a sharp knife. Put aside.

Five 35oz. cans chef-cut tomatoes or equivalent quantity of skinned plum tomatoes. If neither available, use 35oz. cans of plum tomatoes.
Four 6oz. cans tomato paste (or your own paste)

Empty canned tomatoes into 12-quart pot. Add all diced vegetables to pot. Add strained beef into pot and pierced sausages*, whole, to pot.

Add tomato paste, adding a bit of water only if necessary.

Add spices—2 Tablespoons each of:

Extra fancy oregano (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh)
Anise seeds
Whole fennel seeds (optional)
Angostura bitters
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Cook on medium to high for at least 3 to 4 hours (preferably 5 hours).

Halfway through, remove the sausages and cut into bite size pieces and return to pot. Continue cooking, stirring often to prevent sticking.

Serve over linguine or your choice of pasta, top with coarsely grated Parmesan or your choice of cheese.

*Whole sausages are strictly an Italian concept—sausages can also be cooked halfway through, then sliced into bite sized pieces and added to sauce per step 3 above.