Surviving Chiberia

Most of the world now knows how incredibly and inhumanely cold it is here in Chicagoland and by the time this post is published, there have been countless articles and photos posted around the web about our insanely freezing temperatures. At the time of writing, we are way beyond negative temperatures but the real feel is even more so. I opened the front door and stepped out for just a few minutes and felt my thick jeans get stiff with the frozen air. Within just a few seconds of exposure.

tall trees in winter

Thankfully, we are fortunate to have shelter, heat and a solid internet connection which I am sure must be more than those who have lost power or have insufficient shelter from the elements. My heart goes out to the homeless and those in housing transition and may God bless those who have created safe havens with adequate resources for such dire circumstances.

At home, it’s just the sort of thing we hope for in order to get some things done around the house- everything is cancelled, nothing is imminent so going outside for anything is relegated to emergencies only.  And the stock-up shopping for food is like a dream come true, except when I remember why we’re doing it in the first place. How easily we forget the brutality of extreme weather from the comforts of indoor living…

In between cooking, cleaning, working, and forever organizing the house, here’s what I’ve been watching at home to stay inspired and reminded of the things I love most- cooking and writing and cooking some more. I thought you might like to take a peek and perhaps watch them, too, if you haven’t ever before and are looking for some inspiration in the kitchen and in life in general (though you may find that the first two are not quite suitable for children during certain parts).

1. Julie & Julia

Anyone who is interested in the roots of American cooking shows and/or fascinated by the life of Julia Child and her fascinated with French food and cooking, will love to see this re-enactment of some of major parts of her life, alongside blogger Julie Powell who started a blog about cooking her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I have fond memories of this movie because around the time I began the My Halal Kitchen site, there was quite a real revival of Julia’s book as well as a lot of buzz about Julie’s blog.

2. Under the Tuscan Sun

Frances Mayes is an American writer I’ve been following since college. I was gifted her book, Bella Tuscany, in order to encourage my desire to live abroad in a foodie-loving country like Italy or France. I actually even met Frances in 2000 during a book signing when she appeared in San Francisco to talk about her book’s success- it was one of the most exciting moments of my life because I was able to listen to a full hour of how she made her dream of international living a possibility, all while combing her love of writing, and living an extraordinary life so very possible. When the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun came out (based on her book by the same name), I couldn’t have been more excited to put the visual to something I could watch at any given moment I was in need of inspiration and motivation to keep my dreams alive.

3. Ratatouille

Yes, I am an adult and no, I don’t much enjoy cartoons. But when you combine great animation with a wonderful story about life in Parisian restaurant kitchens with the copper pots and vintage French ovens, you can quite forget there are animated mice as the main characters of the story. All I can focus on is the food and the mention of French cooking, the scenes of the French countryside as well as the city. You’ve just got to see it to appreciate it. And for all it’s worth, watching Julie & Julia inspired and reminded me to watch this one again…

There are many more things I am watching, reading and doing to stay occupied and warm during this polar vortex, they call it, but I’ll leave it up to you now- how are you spending the time indoors that is creative, fun, relaxing and/or productive to your life?

By the way, if you haven’t heard of “Chiberia”, here is the current meaning in the context of our current weather-related phenomenon.


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