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
In a small pan heat one cup of broth with the lime leaves and green curry. Stir to blend the curry with the broth and when the broth is heated through, pour it into your favorite mug. Savor and enjoy. The longer the lime leaves sit in the broth the more lime flavor and fragrance you will experience. The lime leaves are my favorite ingredient.
Place the chicken carcass/bones into a large pot. Throw in the onion, garlic, herbs and bay leaf if using. Fill with water until just covers the chicken and aromatics. Place it on the stove top over medium heat and just as it comes to a boil, turn it down to low and cover with a lid. Don't let it come to a rolling boil or it will foam. If it foams, just skim the foam off the top.
I keep my pot over the lowest heat setting and I let it simmer for at least 8-10 hours but most of the time I'll let it simmer for 16 hours. The longer you simmer the more flavorful the stock. Typically I'll put the stock on in the evening and let it simmer stovetop all night. The next day after about 16 hours I will uncover the pot, turn the heat up just a bit to medium low and let the stock continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, reducing the liquid a little and creating a more flavorful stock. I always end up with about 4-6 cups stock. Just enough to make one soup or stew recipe for my family. I make stock every week!
Take the stock off the heat and let it cool. Strain the stock into a clean container and either refrigerate or freeze. It will last in the freezer for up to three months and it will last in the refrigerator for about 7 days.
Use and season the stock as desired.