Tales From A Hungry Life

February 5, 2014

Snow Daze

by Maria Schulz

When you think of a lazy, snowy day, what comes to mind? For me, it’s always been sitting in a cozy armchair, sipping hot chocolate, watching millions of snowflakes dance down from the sky while reading a book that I actually wrote.

Now available on amazon.com

Now available on amazon.com

Meanwhile, a warm fire glows brightly in a nearby fire place while soft music plays in the background. In another part of the house, something delicious, warm and satisfying is cooking on the stove, and its fragrant aroma fills the air with promise.

Of course, that’s usually just the first snow day of the season. If you’re experiencing the kind of winter I’m experiencing, your day might look more like this….

1. Wake up several times during the night to see if “SNOWMAGEDDON” is on its way.

2. After finally falling asleep, get woken by phone call from school district saying school is cancelled.

3. Weep as you contemplate putting on your coat and heading out to scrape the ice/snow off your car

4. Look through cabinets in vain for hot chocolate, tea, coffee…anything really.

Don't forget the hot chocolate

Don’t forget the hot chocolate

5. Weep some more when you realize you have nothing hot to drink

6. Wonder, as you dislodge huge chunks of ice off your car, if the polar ice caps have relocated to your windshield.

7. After three hours of clearing snow away, look outside and realize that so much snow has accumulated since you got inside that it looks like you didn’t do anything

8. Realize that although you braved the hysterical masses and went shopping yesterday, you forgot important staples like bread and milk.

9. Crack the frozen tears off your face and stand by the heating vent to dry

10. Stop making fun of old people who have moved to Florida

Such a troublemaker

Such a troublemaker

As I watched the snow pile up outside my window, I started to think about how I passed snowy days way back in the dark ages (you know, when I was a kid). Back in the day, I belonged to a folk group run out of our Catholic school. Yes, we were the dorky nerds who practiced and practiced such riveting tunes as “Kumbayah,” “Blowing in the Wind,” and “One Tin Soldier Rides Away.”

Sometimes, just to show the world how hip we were, our teacher would have us perform songs like “You Light Up My Life,” “I’m Gettin’ Nuthin’ For Christmas,” and “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?” Okay, so maybe we were hip in terms of 1912, but we still had some fun with it.

We could put on a show

We could put on a show

We would put on shows that were kind of like those “barn plays” that Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland were always going on about, just minus the barn, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Our folk group would spend weeks creating skits for each song, with girls pairing up (oh let’s face it, there were no boys here) to create storylines while we simultaneously conjured up costumes, props, and over-the-top facial expressions to convey our burning passion, earnestness, joy, etc. You get the picture.

A couple of times a year, we would board a school bus and go off to the local children’s hospital or nursing home to sing for the residents. We thought we were doing something nice and giving these folks something to look forward to; now, come to think of it, maybe we were the only thing these people had to do between “Bingo” and “The 4:30 Movie.” I’m not really sure anymore.

Kumbaya

Kumbaya

Anyway, one of the songs that always got a big round of applause was our happy, energetic, and completely clueless rendition of “Let it Snow.” The sick kids and ancient senior citizens would clap and cheer as we sang. Here are the words….

Sing it, baby

Sing it, baby

Oh the weather outside is frightful

But the fire is so delightful

And since we’ve no place to go

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Well it doesn’t show signs of stopping

And I’ve brought some corn for popping

The lights are turned way down low

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

When we finally kiss good night

How I hate going out in the storm

But if you really hold me tight

All the way home I’ll be warm

The lights are all slowly dying

And my dear, we’re still good bye-ing

But as long as you love me so,

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Of course, now this song is playing in a continual loop in my head. I consider this “karma” because of all of the years that I helped inflict our cheery, full-throated singing on people too sick to get away from us.

Now that we’ve lost all of our extra school days to bad snowstorms and my children may be going to school until next August, here’s what I’m really singing to myself….

Once more, with feeling

Once more, with feeling

Oh the f*!@*$g weather outside is frightful

And the fire is completely useless

And since I’ve got a million places to go,

Stop the snow! Stop the snow! Stop the snow!

Well it doesn’t show signs of stopping

And my herniated discs are surely popping

The lights are all about to blow

Stop the snow! Stop the snow! Stop the snow!

When I finally lay down tonight

How I’ll wish down south I had flown

But if you really hold me tight

The screaming may subside to a moan

The lights are all slowly dying

And my dear, we’re still shovel-ing

But as long as you love me so,

Stop the snow! Stop the snow! Stop the snow!

A fashion staple! NOT

A fashion staple! NOT

One of the things that made those Catholic school days so memorable was that I was encouraged to actively search for people who needed help. This was the kind of thing that came along with the tacky uniform and the mite boxes; you could say it came with the territory.

Anything but mite boxes.

Anything but mite boxes.

It wasn’t enough that I was visiting sick and elderly people to make their lives better through song; I had to find sick and elderly people who needed my help on a monthly basis too. Well, they said daily, but even I have limits.

Here’s what I could do to help people in their times of snowy need:

  • Bundle up and help the elderly neighbors dig out so they didn’t end up face down in the snow with me administering the CPR I learned (poorly) when I wasn’t paying any attention in hygiene class.
  • Pick up eggs or milk for that elderly neighbor so that they didn’t have to fight the crazy crowds the day before the storm hits.
  • Call the neighbors and tell them to stay inside while I clean off their cars and dig them out.
  • Give them a stack of books to tide them over until the bad weather passes, or load up their Kindle with great reading (such as my book, Tales From A Hungry Life: A Memoir With Recipes). Yes, that was another shameless plug, but they won’t mind, because I just got them milk and eggs and cleaned off their cars

    Now available on amazon.com

    Now available on amazon.com

  • Talk to them about the merits of moving away from the Northeast, which keeps getting hit by snowstorms.
  • Teach them the words to “Stop the snow! Stop the snow! Stop the snow!” to pass the time

Even though I stopped wearing the literal Catholic school uniform many years ago, I still wear it figuratively. I have spent many, many years trying to make life a little easier for my sick and/or elderly neighbors. Now, as I get ready to head out into the snowy winter wonderland that is my front yard, I’m looking forward to another day in paradise.

That, and the day when I’M THE OLD PERSON who somebody helps…and I get to watch them shoveling outside, while I sit by a roaring fire sipping hot chocolate and reading my book for the millionth time.

A girl’s got to have a dream.

Recipe: Beef Stew

Delicious

Delicious

There are few things in life that are quite as satisfying as a big bowl of stew on a cold, snowy day. I love this recipe by Jacques Pepin:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/beef-stew-in-red-wine-sauce

It’s perfect for when you have the time and energy to cook. For a quicker beef stew version, follow my recipe below for a less time-intensive (but still delicious) stew that was inspired by Jacques Pepin’s recipe. My version is easy to make, and can be as healthy or as rich as you please. The leftovers are delicious too.

1 lb. stew meat (beef chuck or veal, cubed)

1 bag frozen stew vegetables (carrots, celery, potatoes, pearl onions…look in your grocer’s freezer)

2 cups beef broth (the last time I made this, I was out of broth and I substituted a full-bodied red wine—it was delicious)

2 large yellow onions, sliced and diced

1 Bay Leaf

¼ – ½ cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Coat your pan with cooking spray and heat; add olive oil. Meanwhile, dredge meat in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown onions in the olive oil and add meat. Add bay leaf and broth/wine; let simmer for 1 hour. Add frozen vegetables and continue simmering for another hour; add wine/flour as needed to thicken or loosen the gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.

So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite thing to do on a snowy day? Have you HAD IT UP TO HERE with the snow? Which dish do you think is most satisfying on a cold winter’s day? Please leave a comment in the comments section below and let us all know. Thanks, and stay warm!

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7 Comments »

  1. First of all let me assure you that any visit by young, the younger the better, children to residents of of Nursing Homes are always appreciated and brings smiles to faces that do not smile much anymore and that includes the male residents. The children don’t have to be talented all they have to be is young and smiling and not afraid of all these OLD Timers who may or may not look ;like their grandparents. Secondly the song “Let It Snow” was never meant for people like married ones with children or old people. Happily it was a song of seduction sung by Fernando Lamas to Ester Williams (I may be incorrect but that is what I remember) in one of those dorky 1940 or 1950 musicals. They were in love. She was trying to be a good girl and he was trying…. well you know what he was trying. Hey wait a minute! Was that the song “5 Minutes More”? Ah what the hell you get the idea don’t you? By the way your parody of “Let It Snow” was really very good.

    Comment by Bglou — February 5, 2014 @ 10:58 am | Reply

    • You are thinking of the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside. I like the version in Elf, sung by Will Ferrel and Zoe Deschanel, while she’s in the shower and he’s sitting outside of it singing along (she doesn’t know he’s there until he bursts out with BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!). I’m glad you think the old people were happy to see us. I feel a little bit better now. PS I thought my parody was pretty good too!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 5, 2014 @ 12:51 pm | Reply

  2. Love the plugs for your book!! Haha!! My favorite thing to do on a snowy day is cook and bake stuff!! Maybe that’s why I so enjoy reading your blog!! Today on our fourth snow day, my favorite thing to do would be to throw my kids out in the snow and leave them there for a few hours so I could go watch 3 hours of The Following( -another great show, If you don’t watch it you should!)with my husband who is home today too!! Happy snow day!!!!

    Comment by Paula — February 5, 2014 @ 11:24 am | Reply

    • I wish my kids could get out there with yours! Ha ha. I haven’t seen The Following but since I’ve liked every show you’ve recommended, I will check it out. Enjoy your snow day too.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 5, 2014 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

  3. Fun read this morning Maria, on this 4th snow day of the year.
    I think of a snow day as a bonus day – all teh things I could get done.
    I could vacuum, do laundry, clean the bedrooms, catch up on paper work, clean the fish tank and gerbil cage, bake something yummy and healthy.
    I could walk the dogs – which I am sure you will still do today.
    Instead all I want to do is lounge on the couch in my jammies reading this great book I am reading on my iPad – Tales from a Hungry Life.
    The call of the couch/book is the loudest.
    Enjoy the snow day!

    Comment by sussman81 — February 5, 2014 @ 11:48 am | Reply

    • Yes, LISTEN TO THE CALL OF THE COUCH! Lol Tales of a Hungry Life: A Memoir with Recipes was meant to be read! Leave the laundry and the cleaning for the weekend. Enjoy!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 5, 2014 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  4. Well Maria my snowy days are turning out to be great adventures. My boss the mayor of NYC rarely if ever closes the schools on snowy days and I get the white knuckled drive to work each morning after it has been snowing for 10 hours. I wake up put on my work cloths and shovel. I get in my car and slip and slide to work. Yesterday my wife and kids were off and I was stuck at the top of a hill five blocks away from home on ice for 10 minutes. I should have turned around and came home but I pushed on. I drove one and a half hours on a ride that normally takes me 25 minutes. Then there, the parking! I pulled on a spot after 20 minutes of looking and couldn’t move. I was half in a driveway and the spot so I had to do something. Shovel! Another 15 minutes and I was in a spot. Would I get out? Well that would be the afternoon’s great adventure. I get to the school and the door is locked. No security yet so no one can come in the building. 10 minutes went by and a guard showed up. He too had a great adventure. Now from what I heard from my 50 and 60 year old co-workers was that they were digging themselves out as the younger generation slept. I’m not waiting for someone to dig me out as an old person. When the thaw comes I will be found by the smell of my rotting body if I wait for them. Maybe you can come and shovel for me.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — February 6, 2014 @ 4:47 pm | Reply


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