Either the New Jersey winters are getting colder, or I’m getting older. Either way, spending time outdoors from late November through early March is not an option anymore. There is nothing going on outside of my house that is so tempting that I would brace the 25-degree weather for. So I tell my friends I’m hibernating, and I’ll see you in March.
Sounds depressing, right? But on one extra-cold weekend, I picked up The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. It was a Christmas gift from my husband, and I had heard a bit about hygge here and there. But if the Danes can be happy with only 3 months of warm weather, and spend the rest of their time indoors, I had to know their secret.
Turns out, what I’ve been calling hibernating was really their endearing practice of hygge. We did a lot of the same things: cuddled up in as many layers/blankets as possible with candles lit all around, my twinkling white Christmas lights still up, a hot drink in hand, while food slowly simmered on the stovetop.
The only difference was I was putting a negative label on it, thinking there was something wrong with me for not doing something more exciting for months and months at a time. And so after reading this little book, I had a new outlook on my so-called bad socializing habit. This was actually the best form of self-care I could give myself!
So instead of wallowing in self-pity, I embraced the hygge life and had a lot of fun while doing so. I made a lot of hyggelit food, mulled some wine, did a lot of cuddling with my pooch, watched a feel-good movie, and that was that.
When it comes to hygge food, the simpler and slower-cooking, the better. It is rustic, not luxury. Think stew, not caviar. And since I had no meat in the house, I decided to take another route: making pasta!
I had recently rediscovered my cavatelli machine during a serious decluttering session. In the past, I had some problems with sticky dough clumping in the machine (I realize now my dough did not have enough flour) and so I’m sharing this recipe in case others have had the same issue. I served this cavatelli in a cheesy sauce with speck and it was oh-so-comforting.
Ricotta Cavatelli Recipe
1.5 cups 00 flour
1/2 lb ricotta cheese
Pinch of salt
Wizz together the floor, egg, ricotta, and salt in a food processor until the dough comes together. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead a few times, bringing the dough together. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes on the counter.
Roll out the dough to about 1/2″ thick, and cut into 3/4″ wide stripes. Feed the strip into the machine while cranking, making sure to keep feeding the dough to the center (sometimes it wants to veer off and that’s when it gets jammed). I find the trick is to take it slow, not cranking too fast to prevent the cavatellis from getting stuck in the machine. I usually enlist my husband for help, so he can keep an eye on the cavatellis as they fall out, making sure they don’t clump up.
Put the cavatellis on a floured baking pan and let them sit out for 30 minutes to an hour. Then boil in salted water until they rise to the top. Mine were in there for less than a minute!