This winter has been more than cold in many parts of the country and keeping warm can be a challenge. Rosanne Tartaro of Sunrose Aromatics mentioned this link to the farmers almanac ( which had suggestions for keeping warm. Number 5; “Keep the Kitchen Cozy” resonated with me and I wanted to expand upon it.
In many households the kitchen is the center of attention; people gather here to play, eat, and talk. Turning down the heat in other parts of the house might even encourage this, but its important to keep it cozy. Here are some of my suggestions for a cozy kitchen:

Keep a pot of water on the stove. This serves two purposes; it helps increase humidity which is dangerously low in the mountain west and you can use it as a simmering potpourri. Check your spice cabinet for cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice, pieces of nutmeg too small to grate or experiment with other spices. Orange peel also works well in the potpourri. Check your tea cupboard too for mint, chamomile and other aromatic teas.

Drink lots of hot beverages; teas, coffee, hot cocoa. You can use this as an opportunity to experiment with different flavors. Add mint or orange peel to your tea or cocoa – hey, maybe even your coffee, but I’ve never tried that.

Make soup early in the day and let it simmer on the stove a long time.

Candles can give the kitchen a warm glow, but remember to blow them out.

And is there anything that makes a kitchen more cozy than home baked bread? Although yeast breads can take quite awhile there are many options for quick breads. I like to make this ginger bread:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light molasses
3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar (or slightly less)
1 egg

Cream butter and sugar together, mix in egg. Add remaining ingredients and mix together. Pour into a greased 4x8inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. This bread can be made as spicy as you like it and is very warming!

What are your suggestions for keeping warm during these dark and cold winter days?