Lean into Winter

Idle at wonderfully long suppers, and treat yourself to handmade pies washed down with hard apple cider, smoky cocktails, and old-school board games. Winter is here, so why not unplug, burrow, and embrace it?

_mg_4450Cardamom & Orange Martini Drop with Smoked Rosemary Garnish
Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit infused with caraway and star anise. Cardamom is also a very Swedish flavor. The combination makes for one spicy winter cocktail! I gave this sip a smoky fragrance with a fresh rosemary sprig lighted with a match then quickly blown out.

  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • A splash of aquavit
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

For the cardamom simple syrup, simmer cardamom pods in 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Strain, then cool and refrigerate.

In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, a small splash of aquavit, orange juice, and 1/2 ounce of the cardamom simple syrup. Add ice, shake, and pour.


Flame On
Instead of recycling empty clear glass wine bottles, repurpose them into a stunning line of candlelight. Glass canning jars make great casual containers for bits of greenery, plus the candlelight glow bounces off of the repurposed glass, highlighted by simple winter white table linens.

Go nuts
Serve the cardamom martini with oven-roasted cashews sprinkled with chopped rosemary and black truffle salt, and served in individual parchment packets.

Easy Side Salad
For a little crunch, I pulled together a quick sliced rainbow radish salad drizzled with a smooth olive oil and citrus vinaigrette, and then added a spicy zing with red pepper flakes.

_mg_4145Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
A soup supper is relaxed and casual, and you can prep the day ahead. I like to cook the vegetables in advance and store them in the fridge, then reheat them in the broth just before serving.

  • 4 rainbow carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 rutabaga
  • 2 shallots, all veggies peeled and diced
  • 6-8 crimini mushrooms brushed clean, trimmed, and quartered
  • 6 cups organic vegetable broth
  • Dash of black truffle salt
  • Olive oil for drizzling and sautéing
  • 4-6 thyme stems
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Line a baking pan with foil, and add the carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, and shallots. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Add leaves from four to six stems of fresh thyme. Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper. Roast at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the veggies begin to caramelize and crisp. Cool and refrigerate.

_mg_4510Sauté the mushrooms in a little olive oil. Sprinkle with spicy red pepper flakes, and hit it with a bit of black truffle salt. Sauté until mushrooms have browned and softened. Cool and refrigerate.

Bring vegetable broth to a simmer, and slide in the mushrooms, shallots, and roasted root vegetables. Simmer until hot. Use the soup pan as the serving dish on the table.

Something Sweet
For dessert, I made an old-fashioned handmade apple pie and raised a glass of Pippins Apple Sea Cider. I garnished the pie dish with simple white daisies. On a cold winter night, this dessert evokes the promise of spring.

Set the Scene
Post-supper, shuffle fireside and unplug. Small throw rugs invite relaxation with a game of backgammon and your favorite spirit. How cool are these glasses from North Drinkware? They are hand-blown glass tumblers with USGS data of Mount Rainier molded into the base of the glass!


See Monica Hart’s design, recipe, and entertaining ideas in every issue of 425 magazine, and on her website. Credits: Hair by Seven the Salon, senior stylist Chu. Pippins Apple Sea Cider, Staub white soup pan and Emile Henry Pie Plate from Metropolitan Market in Kirkland. Backgammon set from Crate and Barrel at The Bellevue Collection. Mount Rainier drinkware from Tumblers North Drinkware in Portland.

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