seattle winter survival checklist

I remember thinking to myself that no weather on the planet could be worse than the awful combination of frigid, biting, windy, snowy, wind-chill winter and hot, humid, buggy, swamp-ass summer that I suffered through in Iowa growing up. Having been through this kind of thing, one would think I would have an arsenal of tools to get through the Seattle winter.

Unfortunately, before I moved to Seattle, I spent 8 glorious years being spoilt by the always-cool-never-hot-always-sunny-then-foggy San Francisco. Which basically means this time of the year, I am hissing at people and cursing the day I left my rent control apartment in the Mission.

I’m not going to sugar coat it for you, folks. It’s dark, it’s dreary. Quite frankly it’s hard not to want to stab people, but there are ways to get through it! Here is my survival checklist:

1. Summer Is Right Around the Corner

Seattle has arguably the best summer weather of just about anywhere in the world. There are glorious mountains and lakes everywhere, and all of the rain over the winter makes the flowers and gardens grow overtime in the summer. Enough of that madness though, we have to get there first! (angrily wrings fist in the air)

2. Winter is a Great Time to Craft

Been wanting to try macrame? THIS is the time to do it. This is the time when you won’t feel guilty for missing out on a beautiful day. Make it a social activity and start a book club with your friends or start a “stitch-n-bitch” where you meet up and have wine and crochet (or knit, if that’s your thing). I know some friends that get together at a pub and bust out coloring books. I hear they are all the rage these days!

If you don’t have anything to do, plan your next winter getaway, because that brings me to….

3. You Have That Wonderful Winter Escape Planned Because You Knew This Would Happen

Cancun Fiesta? Bora Bora and French Polynesia? Fuck, how about Vegas if you’re desperate for some quick Vitamin D relief. Plan ahead so you have something to look forward to. You have all those friends in LA, SF, AZ, even Texas! You’ll even go to Texas (ahem…Austin) for a little dose of sunshine in this dreary time of the year.

4. It’s a Great Time to Bake and Roast Things

Winter is a perfect time to pig out on all the savory winter specialties. Slow roasted beef, chickens, soups, you name it. I’m starting to get on a good rotation of roasted chicken, sandwiches and soups as a weekly plan. You’ll miss it in the summer when it’s too blazing hot to use the oven! Bake breads, cakes, cookies, because that swimsuit isn’t coming out of the closet for awhile.

5. Concerts and Music in General

Discover new bands and play their entire albums at length. Scour the internet for obscure podcasts, explore Spotify for playlists, take the time to cultivate a Pandora station. Then come summer, you’ll be the cool one in the know. People will want you to pick the music, and you’ll know all the best concerts to go to. You can thank me later when you’re up to your elbows in game this summer.

6. Hot Beverages

Cozy up to a warm fire with (take your pick!): Hot toddies, chai tea lattes, hemp mochas, green tea, Irish Coffee, Vietnamese Coffee, Market Spice Tea (thank me later for that one, too), hot apple cider, hot buttered rum – they serve it up well at The Athenian! You could even go down to Pike Place Market, sit and watch the boats from The Athenian right after you purchase your Market Spice Tea and have the best time ever.

7. Hot Soaking

If you’re a woman in Seattle, you instantly have better options for this than the guys. Sorry guys, but there are some amazing women’s spas here. When I say “spa”, what I’m referring to is the various hydrotherapy Russian or Japanese-inspired bath houses. There are saunas and steam rooms and cold plunge pools and hot jacuzzis…all there in one place to hop from one to the other and back again until your body feels like jello.

Hothouse is an easy favorite on the hill and actually quite cheap. It’s a small facility, but it certainly does the job. Olympus is a lot bigger and has more rooms and services. If you go there, get the scrub! It’s the best. Honestly, though, my favorite spa is actually the co-ed Banya 5 in South Lake Union. It’s a lot more social and you can meet people and have a great time. For clarity, Banya 5 is a facility that you wear a swimsuit, the other two are naked lady places.

If nothing else, a good soak in the bathtub is always the ticket and something you will not want to do in the summer.

8. Netflix and Chill

That’s right, get cozy next to your super sexy someone. Pro-tip: In a new dating scenario, go for the ridiculous movies. The ones you’ve seen before because you might not finish it. *wink* This is not the time to suffer through some uncomfortable art film. The Princess Bride? Perfect! The Labyrinth? Excellent choice – bonus points for the sexual awakening nostalgia! Vice really nails it with this helpful guide.

9. Play Games

I’m not into sports at all, but for those of you that are, enjoy. For me, I actually like board games, card games, dominoes, that sort of thing. I love a good round of Settlers of Catan! Ever try Texas Hold ’em? It’s actually pretty fun, and someone walks away with some cash money. I have some friends that play Bridge, and I hear it is a blast. Seriously tons to choose from.

10. Drink!

When all else fails, you can always belly yourself up to a bar and knock a couple back.

i made a chocolate cheesecake and i didn’t burn the house down

True story:  I did start a fire in the oven last night. It was unrelated to said chocolate cheesecake, but it did happen. I think it was *probably* related to me knocking over some olive oil over a burner and into the oven while cleaning earlier in the day. Later that night when I went to roast some veggies, there was a bit of a fire. As in real flames. A first for me! Somehow, I’ve managed to make it this far in life without a kitchen fire.

Fortunately, my fast acting husband was right there to save the day. Such a hero. In my best Urkel impression: “Did I do that!?”

Anyway, on to chocolate cheesecake! This was my first time making any kind of cheesecake and it’s crazy I’ve never made it before, because it is literally my favorite desert. I think the main reason is because I never just happen to have that much cream cheese laying around. That would be straight up dangerous because I love cream cheese. I can easily eat it by the spoonful.

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I originally planned on making a classic cheesecake, so I started off with a classic graham cracker crust. I just hammered my graham crackers in a baggie, but I bet a food processor would have been much easier. Throw the crumbs (about a cup to a cup and a half) in a bowl with the melted butter (1/3 cup) and sugar (1/4 cup) and mix it up real good, pat it down into a springform pan.

At this point, I decided that, because I happened to have some ghiradelli chocolate chips on hand, why not use them. So I decided to use the filling from this recipe with a few modifications, one being the graham cracker crust. I also didn’t bother with the chocolate topping, but only because I didn’t have whipped cream.

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I’m a bit of a kitchen minimalist, so I don’t have a double boiler. This stainless steel bowl that is versatile enough for mixing epic salads as well as heating chocolate. I just put it over a big stock pot. A real kitchen MacGyver over here. I used a 10 oz. bag of Ghiradelli chips, since that is what I had on hand.

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The next step this recipe calls for is to mix the “lukewarm” chocolate with the room temperature cream cheese. I didn’t really see a reason to wait since I was hand mixing, which is hard work and I really don’t recommend! I then added in the sugar and the additional cocoa, also a premium chocolate brand. I think the reason for wanting it to not be hot was for the next step, which was adding in the eggs one at a time. Curdled eggs would have not been good. I had no problem there because it took so long for me to mix it all by hand. Overall, not terribly difficult.

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Throw it in the pre-heated oven at 350 and let it bake for about an hour. When it’s done, the center should be cooked thoroughly. It really reminded me of a flourless chocolate torte I made before.

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The moment of truth. Was it delicious? YES. So rich. So decadent. I’m actually really glad it had a graham cracker crust because it was a nice complimentary flavor to the chocolate. It was similar to a flourless torte, but the FOUR PACKAGES of cream cheese made it, well, cream cheesier. Next time, I might try some sort of sour cream/whip cream/raspberry topping with it. It was really fine without. It is important to use quality chocolate though, as the original recipe says, and now I can see why. Recipe below:

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Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1-1 1/2 Cups of crumbled Graham Crackers (about 20)
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Mix crackers until crumbly, then mix in melted butter and sugar. Pat down in springform pan. You can also make this ahead of time and refrigerate, or use with other recipes!

Filling

  • 1 oz premium chocolate or chocolate chips. I used Ghirardelli 60% chips
  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened premium cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat to 350 degrees F. Use a double boiler or other fine fangled contraption to melt down chocolate chips. Set aside and mix in the cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa. Be sure that the mix has cooled down reasonably before adding in the eggs one at a time. Mix well! Pour it all in the springform pan and bake for about an hour, or until the center is all the way cooked. Wait for 4+ hours before cooking or refrigerate overnight.

Let me know how it goes in the comments! Cheers!