Are you one of those people who suffer from the autumnal blues? If so I’m guessing they might be hitting about now. Both the harvest moon and the equinox have come and gone and each day seems decidedly shorter than one before. Yesterday, on the last leg of a rather cold and damp walk around Pleasant Lake, I was caught off guard by both the early dusk and a chilly rain.
If you are feeling a bit grumpy with the shorter days and dreary weather here are a few ideas to cheer you up.
1. On the next rainy day, grab a book by your favorite author, light a fire in the fireplace, park yourself on the couch and stay there. All day. Only get up for a snack or a cup of tea. Let the phone ring if you want. Isn’t that why you have an answering machine? And one last thing, DON’T feel guilty, not even for a minute.
2. Scan your too many cable stations and find a funny movie or reruns of your favorite old television comedies. It’s hard to feel down watching Lucy in the candy factory or Seinfeld in his puffy shirt. Alternatively, you can log onto YouTube, search for videos of laughing babies and enjoy a good long laugh.
3. Exercise every day. Take a walk, ride the stationary bike or go to the gym. Practice yoga or learn to zumba or ballroom dance. When all else fails put on Elvis or Chubby Checker and twist for thirty minutes, longer if you like.
4. Learn to knit or some other useful or, better yet, frivolous skill.
5. On a more serious note, develop a new interest. Take a class, attend a lecture or go to a conference, challenge your brain and learn something new.
6. No matter what the thread count, trade in your luxurious or not so luxurious sheets for warm and cozy flannel. Pull your warm, fluffy comforter out and toss it on your bed. Sleep in an extra half hour. It’s dark out and you deserve it.
7. Grab your hat and coat, go out and volunteer for a worthy cause. You can help people in need, canvas for a candidate you believe in, support
change or preserve timeless landmarks. In the process you will meet interesting people, learn new skills and share your knowledge.
8. Let your imagination run wild and plan, make or shop for your Halloween costume. Get in the holiday spirit by baking gingerbread and carving pumpkins. Recruit a few fun loving friends to trick-or-treat and help you celebrate a spooktacular holiday.
9. Let your creativity continue to flow and decorate your house. Go on a quest for fun and funky gourds. Collect bittersweet, wrap it around your doorway and drape it on your mantel. Brew up some mulled cider and fill the house with the smell of apples and spice.
10. And when all else fails, make a pot of soup. Any day, every day is better with soup. No matter how dark the sky or drab the landscape, your kitchen will be warm and cheery if a pot of soup is bubbling on the back burner.
Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup
If you have a piece of parmesan cheese rind, add it to the soup along with the chicken stock for extra oomph and flavor. Enjoy!
2 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut in half and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch kale, tough core removed and chopped
1 1/2 pounds red skinned potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 bay leaf
1 piece parmesan cheese rind (optional)
1 pound kielbasa, cut in quarters lengthwise and 1/2-inch thick
Garnish: fresh parsley, chopped
Put the bacon in a stockpot and cook over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve. Drain off most of the fat.
Add the onions, carrots, celery and leek, season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Return the bacon to the pot; add the kale, potatoes, wine, chicken stock, herbs, bayleaf and parmesan cheese rind. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes and kale are tender.
Add the kielbasa. Simmer until the kielbasa is heated through. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and parmesan cheese rind and serve hot in soup bowls or mugs sprinkled with fresh parsley.
This soup is best made several hours or a day before serving. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
How do you cheer up on drab days? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.
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Feel free to visit Susan Nye 365, my photoblog, or my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more on my website . I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010