Because I have a curious nature, recently I’ve been reading about the Scandinavian tradition called Hygge – pronounced Hoo-Gah. A word that doesn’t quite translate into English except that Scandinavians will tell you it roughly means “cozy atmosphere” or “coziness”.
I’ve always loved the word cozy. In fact, after watching the play Les Miserable at least 20 times, I vowed to name my first daughter Cozette, and call her Cozy for short. That didn’t happen, although now my oldest gal tells me she would have loved that name.
My dear friend Maria of Pink Patisserie is Norwegian. She tells me Hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life. The warm glow of candlelight, friends and family gathering around a table of food discussing the little things and the big things… this can all be translated as Hygge.
After reading about Hygge, I realized I’ve been practicing it in my home for years. During the winter months in the Pacific Northwest, we live through very short days and very long nights. When the day is lit, it’s typically gray and overcast; sometimes with a misty fog that rolls through. I’ve never minded the winter months. I’ve always felt it was a time of renewal, a time to take deep breaths and re-fuel for the spring and summer months.
To keep things feeling more cheerful, I often light candles in the house. Setting them in key visual locations. Sort of my version of keeping the home fires burning. I typically light all the candles just as twilight begins so that when everyone returns home the house feels warm and cozy.
Thanks to my very wise sister in law, I just invested in flameless candles. They look and feel as warm and cozy as real candles. They give the room a warm glow which is so nice when we’re sitting in the family room reading or chatting about the day or hearing stories and drama of the life of a teenager.
During these low lit days I often make myself a sipping broth for my working lunch or when I’m not feeling up to my usual self – creating a little Hygge in my day. This sipping broth is so lovely for when we’re sick or when we just need a cup of comfort and nourishment. I make my own chicken stock and usually make my sipping broth from that homemade stock. But when I’ve run out and need a cup, I’ll use an organic chicken or vegetable broth purchased from my local co-op market. Currently, I’m really loving the organic Better than Bouillon brand for chicken and beef broth and Rapunzel brand for vegetable broth.
I’ve listed my basic chicken stock recipe below as well as instructions on how to make this simple sipping broth. If you can’t find fresh lime leaves, a squeeze of lime works well. I usually find fresh lime leaves in the produce herb section of my market. Sometimes I can find dried Kaffir lime leaves in the Asian food section of my market. You can also order them online.
Wishing you warm and cozy and all things Hygge!
I’ve also included my simple chicken stock. I don’t follow the rules here. (When do I ever follow the rules?) This stock has never failed me and it’s the base for all my soups, stews and this little sipping broth. The key is to begin with quality ingredients. This is a “flavored” stock, although not heavily flavored. I find the fresh herbs to be fragrant and slightly apparent, but not overwhelming. There are all kinds of stock one can prepare. I don’t add carrots or celery to my stock, I think it completely changes the flavor. I don’t salt or pepper my stock until I need to use it for a recipe. So when you taste the stock, it should taste flavorful, but in need of salt and pepper. This is a good thing.
- 1 cup organic chicken or vegetable broth (chicken stock/broth recipe below)
- 1/2 teaspoon Thai green curry paste
- 1-2 lime leaves
- 1 whole chicken carcass/bones (After I roast a chicken and serve it for dinner, I take what's left and make this stock)
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 small head of garlic halved or coarsely chopped (with the skin on and everything, no need to peel)
- 4-5 sprigs fresh oregano (I don't really count the sprigs, I usually just run outside and snip a small handful from my garden)
- 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme (same as above with the thyme)
- Handful of fresh Italian parsley
- 1 dried bay leaf, optional