Creature comforts -- Catherynne Valenete

I love the winter, so I tend to revel in it: making snowmen with marzipan and blackcurrant faces (which my dog promptly eats off), pumpkin coffee and snug scarves, wrapped up and warm by the wood stove, typing away at the latest book and knitting during down time. Soft yarn and the little click of wooden needles is such a comforting set of feelings. I live on an island with middling insulation and a lot of cold days, so I take hot showers and then spray peppermint-scent on my skin--all warm and cold and Christmassy at once. My body is a slightly cranky wolfling-animal in winter, so I try to be gentle with it and use a lot of lotion--the wind dries us out something fierce here. I like raspberry, pomegranate, or pumpkin scented lotion, the thicker the better. If the sensory experience of any sort of lotion or shampoo isn't fabulous, I grow disillusioned quickly.

I also cook--I'm big on soups in the winter. Ukranian borscht with lamb, butternut bacon brie, caldo verde, and lobster bisque are in regular rotation. Though everyone's favorite comfort food that I make is my slowly-getting-famous mac and cheese: made with pesto, bacon, and sharp cheddar, then baked til golden and drizzled with balsamic vinegar glaze. I've also been making a lot of slow-cooked pork in my own Guinness-cocoa barbecue sauce.

In the winter, fresh scallops become available on our island, brought up from the bay on any given morning. I like to set these on fire with brandy.

The winter is my best time. I'm sharp and bright and the cold makes me happy. Time to start on another winter hat.