It is now deep winter. The days are short and the nights are long.
Tonight, we will be hunkering down for a cheese fondue with our friends from Switzerland. The kids can watch a film, while we put the world to rights in the kitchen.
During the next couple of weeks I expect we’ll be too exhausted, from all the daytime eating and festive activities, to have a civilised discussion at the dinner table. Instead I’ve stocked up on treats, blankets and old films, so we can embrace the dark evenings and get all hygge.
Here are a few essentials for a cozy evening in with your loved ones.
I’ve already written about hygge in the home here. Low lighting, candles, cushions and blankets or throws are a must. Phones are off. We’ll be in our pyjamas and thick socks, ready to crawl into bed.
After a massive lunch, the kitchen will be officially closed for the night. Mum’s on strike.
We’ll be snacking on bread sticks and carrots dipped in humous and crackers with brie. Followed by something decadent, like Thomas J Fudge’s mouthwatering milk chocolate florentines. The sultanas, cranberries and orange count as one of of my five a day, right?
Hot chocolate for the kids – and then put them to bed. A hygge night in can only really be enjoyed without the endless chattering of two boys trying to get your attention!
Then it’s mulled wine for me, beer for the hubster. Fortunately There’s a Beer for That sent me a care package with a few specially chosen dark beers. The hubster is slowly working his way through them.
His assessment of Wolf Rock IPA, apart from being ‘the most recent beer I’ve drunk’ was that it had a ‘light caramel sweetness with fruity notes, less heavy than the dark amber colour suggests.’
There’s a Beer for That has a really cool feature on Twitter. If you tweet @beerforthat with details of your meal and the hashtag #BeerMatch, they’ll tell you which beer complements your dish. I asked them about an accompaniment to lamb and received a reply within 10 minutes. Try it!
I like to make my own mulled wine. It’s not a fine art, I pretty much chuck in whatever fruit and spices I have lurking in the cupboard. Here’s a recipe, loosely based on one by Jamie Oliver, which I use as a guide:
- 1 orange
- Half a lemon
- Half a lime
- 1 vanilla pod (or a couple of drops of vanilla essence)
- 100 g caster sugar
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 star anise
- 1 bottle red wine (I use Gran Reserva Carinena from Sainsbury’s which is only £5)
Take large sections of peel from each of the three fruits and squeeze the oils from the peel into a pan. Add the peel to the pan, with the sugar, the juice of the orange, plus a little squeeze of the lime and lemon juice. Heat slowly with a splash of wine. Add the cloves, cinnamon, vanilla pod – split down the middle lengthways (or essence) and bay leaf. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the star anise and the rest of the wine and heat gently for 5 minutes. Serve… and relax.
The wine is lovely with the florentines, and is another one of your five a day.*
*This is a lie.
Now for the main event.
For a hygge night in, you need to choose something unchallenging, definitely not violent, preferably that you’ve seen before, to give you that warm feeling of familiarity.
I favour comedy. My favourites include:
- Blazing Saddles: naff and crude and incredibly un-PC, but still hilarious and starring the incredible Gene Wilder. I know all the words, which is very annoying for everyone else.
- The Man with Two Brains: Steve Martin plays Dr Hfuhruhurr. Daft, full of terrible puns, but who could forget the birds of Pointy Pointy.
- Groundhog Day: Bill Murray, at his dry humoured best, has to relive the same day over and over again.
Settle down, grab a warm body to snuggle up with, and enjoy the long nights.
Tell me about your favourite films. Got a recommendation for me? Please leave me a comment below, I always reply.
Much love, Vx
[Disclosure: my thanks to Thomas J Fudge for the florentines and the idea of making mulled wine, and to the care package and beer from There’s a Beer for That. I use affiliate links.]