You know it’s cold

Black lab with frozen whiskers

You don’t need me to tell you! It seems like half of the bloggers I follow are writing about how cold it is where they live right now. Everyone expects it to be cold at this time of year where we live in Eastern Ontario, so wintry photos are no surprise on my blog. Bone-chilling cold is something that we move in and out of throughout a typical winter, but there is something really nefarious-sounding about experiencing a spillover of the ‘polar vortex’, which is stretching all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Brrr!

The picture here of our dog Reggie looks really chilly due to the frosted whiskers around his face, but that photo was taken on a comparatively mild day before the real cold set in. Before we found ourselves easily in three feet of snow that has built up over the last month or so. The dog has become canny and has taken to largely walking behind us in the trail that we’ve made with our snowshoes in recent weeks, because the snow is so incredibly deep. In this deep freeze the paths have become so hard-packed it’s easy to walk in them without the aid of snowshoes, but stepping off the trail is another matter. I broke ground without snowshoes with the dog on a different part of our property for about five minutes in this morning’s wind-driven cold, and could suddenly understand how quickly one could become stranded and at risk of dying out in the cold without the right gear. There is nothing so daunting as trudging through deep snow in profound cold.

Crusted snow in eastern Ontario

And there is nothing so easy as staying inside when it’s this cold. Staying inside and generating some heat through baking and cooking is a pretty good option, as is eating and creating more warmth by burning through some delicious calories. Yesterday my older boy made his truly yummy cinnamon buns (gluten free, but sinfully tasty). Consider that my final tease; I will provide the actual recipe very shortly.

Gluten free cinnamon bun

Tonight I made kedgeree with smoked salmon. It doesn’t look like much, but this historic British dish from colonial days in India, is super easy to throw together and very satisfying comfort food (if you’re a fan of rice, eggs and fish). For more reading, there is a nice potted history of kedgeree on the Telegraph’s website, a lovely treatment by Jamie Oliver, and a very serviceable shortcut version on the BBC website. The BBC recipe is the one I turned to tonight, and it’s a great pantry creation (apart from the eggs).

Pan of kedgeree on the stove

My youngest has been getting in on the cooking too, whipping up bacon, eggs and toast one tea-time. He’s more of a baker and likes to help out with special projects like canning, but has been bitten by the cooking bug. Being cooped up can help develop new interests! In compiling a list of the dishes he’d like to master, he noted a roast chicken, saying ‘it can’t be that hard – you just throw it in the oven for two hours!’

So, what is wind chill anyway? I think anyone experiencing this polar vortex, even if they didn’t believe in or understand windchill before, will get it now. My husband recently found one description of windchill that he’s quite fond of: it involves a person of average height walking through a field at night, with no wind, at a base temperature, and then there’s some calculation for degrees in windchill for every something or other…see, it was obviously very memorable for me. When I went digging, however, I discovered that there doesn’t seem to be a single agreed scientific method for calculating this controversial measurement. All formulas come down to one basic fact: wind hastens heat loss, so the windchill factor is really about how intensively heat loss is hastened as the wind increases. As anyone knows, even a gloriously warm and sunny day can suddenly turn surprisingly chilly with the appearance of a cool breeze, so if you add fierce winds to an already wintry setting, it’s going to get nasty. These two contributions from Environment Canada and BBC News are good primers.

It’s definitely a night for the hot water bottle, which I’ve written about here before, and curling up with a good book. I’m sending out particularly warm thoughts to those of you who aren’t used to the cold that has suddenly come your way, as well as to those, like us, who may be used to it but are no fonder of the deep freeze than anyone else! What are you doing to stay warm, in body and/or spirit?

11 thoughts on “You know it’s cold

  1. Brrr, makes me feel cold just reading it! We’ve been lucky this year so far, hardly any snow at all -but I’m anticipating a huge, unexpected load of snow to be dumped the day I want to start planting seeds ;-)
    Looking forward to the cinnamon buns recipe :-)

    1. Yes, I think that gardeners carry a special curse when it comes to end of winter hopes. That last blast or snow load always seems to come just as we’re feeling ready to start preparing the ground or planting something! I promise I won’t make you wait too long for the cinnamon buns :)

  2. I’ve been spending most of my time indoors – other than going out to the woodshed for more firewood and shoveling snow. I stayed home for almost 2 weeks before I ventured into town for milk. lol
    I walked across the yard in deep snow too and almost got stuck in snow up to my knees – it was extremely difficult to walk in!
    I’m a big fan of sitting by the fire and staying warm…..

    1. Wood gathering is always a pleasant form of exercise, isn’t it! I’m thoroughly impressed that you could stay at home for two weeks without the need to venture into town; envious, actually! I know you’ve got your lovely woodstoves to keep you warm – enjoy them.

  3. We here in Southern California are going out in our t-shirts and sandals and are desperately hoping some rain falls on our parched land. My cole crops are getting covered in aphids because it is so unusually warm. Blowing some of it your way…. I miss “winter.”

    1. It’s mixed up weather all round, isn’t it. I hope that the aphids back off and you get to enjoy some of your cole pest-free. Gardening is a challenge in these times.

  4. I bet your Esse wood stove is proving it’s worth! We have our wood cook stove ‘cranked up,’ but we’re not in that bone chilling cold you are experiencing. We are off sugar these days, but the cinnamon roll sure looked tempting.

    1. It sure is! Even in some of our coldest weather we can go hours and hours without building up the fire again, which is pretty nice (though I like an excuse to sit in front of it and do nothing else for a spell).

  5. The sheen on those fields of snow gives me chills just seeing it in the photo – beautiful, but…I know you’re having it cold down East, hope you keep your power, but at least you have the Esse Ironheart if you do lose it. We’ve got family down in the Bay of Fundy finding it a bit chilly too.
    Isn’t it wonderful when our offspring do the cooking, and even better, the baking? The question is, do they clean up after? Of course for some projects, the result is so wonderful, I’m happy to pay up with some dishwashing. That cinnamon bun looks delicious.
    I got a hot water bottle for Christmas, I was sooo happy. The one I’ve been using for years unaccountably became separated from it’s stopper, which makes the bottle pretty much useless. I’ve tied the stopper for the new one to the bottle – which is what my mother always did…just took me 30 or so year to follow her example :).

    1. We were very fortunate and have kept our power consistently this winter (so far), which I’m really grateful for. Other communities not so far away have really been hit and many went through Christmas with no power. You are spot on about the dishwashing following a cooking or baking session; it just isn’t tackled with the same enthusiasm or thoroughness, and I’ve been known to just do it myself many times. As you say, the results seem worth it! A hot water bottle for Christmas sounds grand; it’s one of those reassuring things that just hasn’t changed much, which I like.

  6. That must’ve been terrifying breaking ground without snowshoes. I can’t even imagine. I haven’t felt snow underfoot in over 20 years! Must rectify that one day. Those cinnamon buns look so glossy and magnificent. Can’t wait for the recipe! We love kedgeree too – such a great way to use up leftover fish. Very selfish of me, but the words ‘polar vortex’ sound quite beautiful. We’re in the middle of the most hideous unrelenting heatwave. Your gorgeous photo of Reggie is the opposite image of my poor black-haired cat, practically passed out on the floor next to me! Hope you enjoyed your reading time. Stay warm. xx

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