Winter is my favorite season and it is also the time of the year where I feel the most creative.  Maybe we are programmed like that through millennia of evolution. Not long ago, women would spend the long winter days doing all sorts of handicrafts (weaving, sewing or knitting). Now we have Netflix and social media and we have replaced needle and thread with modern gadgets.  

Cozy winter illustration

But for me, no modern tool can replace the pleasure of doing something with my hands, it is my preferred method of self-actualization. This quote from social scientist Brené Brown sums it up perfectly:

“Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration — it is how we fold our experiences into our being… The Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has a beautiful saying: “Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”

Creativity does not limit itself to producing art or a nice piece of writing. It can exist in every aspect of our lives. For instance, my favorite autumn craft is pickling vegetables and I find it extremely gratifying to try new methods and recipes (like this year’s Pickled turnips from the Faroe Islands).

The art of making pickles
Romanian pickles

Winter is also the time where I catch up on unfinished reading. I have the habit (a bad one) of reading several books at the same time, which makes it difficult to finish them in a reasonable amount of time. These are the books, on my coffee table, waiting to be read:

I am particularly looking forward to finishing Estive, by Swiss author Blaise Hofmann, a captivating ethnography of his immersive experience of the life of an alpine sheep herder.

Here are some of the recipes I have tried this winter:

Faroese Pickled Turnips  / Sultadar rotur (The Nordic Cookbook – Magnus Nilsson)

  •  1 kg turnips (peeled and cut into strips)
  • 500 ml vinegar (6%)
  • 500 g sugar
  • Spices: bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves,  cinnamon stick

Place all ingredients in a pot and pour 500 ml water. Bring to simmer and cook until just tender but not soft. Spoon into sterilized jars, leaving 1 cm head space, cover, seal and let cool at room temperature. Store in a cool and dark place 2-3 days before eating.

Lithuanian Cranberry Cordial / Spanguoline geriausia (Taste Lithuania – Beata Nicholson)

  • 700 g cranberries
  • 400 g sugar
  • 500 ml vodka
  • peel of one lemon

Mash the cranberries with a potato masher or run them through a food processor. Mix them with sugar. Wash the lemon with a solution of hot water and baking soda and remove its skin. Pour the vodka onto the berries and the lemon peel and store in a cold place for at least four days. Remove it occasionally and give it a stir, so that the cranberry flavor distributes evenly. Strain before serving.

Romanian sour cherry liquor / Visinata (Radu Anton Roman – Savoureuse Roumanie)

  • 4 kg sour cherries (griottes)
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1.5 l alcohol – 70 degrees (eau de vie)
  • 500 ml vodka

Place the washed sour cherries in a large keg, layering the sugar in between. Put the lid on and let it rest in a warm place for a week. Pour the alcohol and the vodka, close the lid and keep the keg a dark and cold place for at least one month before consuming. Making sure to stir occasionally so that the fruit flavor distributes evenly.

Thé à la fribourgeoise (Cuisine et traditions au Pays de Fribourg – Association fribourgeoise des paysans)

  • 1 teaspoon black tea
  • 1 teaspoon green tea
  • 1 cinamoin stick
  • 3 cloves
  • peel of one orange
  • 1/2 glass of white wine
  • 150 g sugar
  • 1 l water

Place the sugar, the spices, the wine and the water in a kettle, bring to a boil and let it simmer 5 to 10 min more. Place the tea leaves in a teapot and pour the hot liquid over. Let sit for a 5 minutes before serving. See my illustrated recipe here.

Complement your cozy winter with a visit to your favorite museum or gallery (I had the Wallpaper Museum in Mézières on my bucket list since a long time ago), try an assortment of fine Swiss chocolate (my favorite is Villars Fribourg), hang tons of Christmas lights, light nicely scented candles and always wear underpants :).

Wallpaper Museum in Mézières

Wishing everyone a warm and cozy winter!

If you like this illustration you can purchase it in my shop as an art print.






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