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The past couple of weeks have been the kind of weeks that make me feel like my hummingbird status (so named by my husband) has been revoked and all that's left is me as a giant dodo bird. I feel slow, stagnant, frustrated, anxious and overwhelmed. Part of that is situational - we've recently gotten bad news about Marcus's Dad's health and we've both been struggling with a virus that will not go away. And part of it is this time of year - late winter is never the best of times for me. I'm ready to go to bed and you can wake me up in April.
All of this has left me feeling like I'm not me - I feel like an alien in my own body. Normally, I'm the type of person that can be irritatingly positive. Embarrassingly enough, I've even been described as perky. I prefer spaz. I'm usually wildly passionate about life - now, the only thing I seem to be passionate about is a nap.
I've learned through the years that when this time of year comes around, I have to be kind, but firm to myself. The one thing I try desperately not to stint on is exercise. Please don't get me wrong - I've never been the type of person who jumps with glee at the thought of exercise. But I allow myself no excuses this time of year. As crappy as I feel now, I know that I'll feel even worse if I don't make myself move in some way. I've recently upped the number of yoga classes I'm taking and my husband has been given full nagging rights in order to guilt trip me into going to them. On the days when I feel worst, I try to make myself go outside and walk, even if it's just ten minutes.
I've also learned to ask for help. I had a project that was weighing down on me and instead of turning into a seething ball of anxiety, I asked for help. I hated to do it but it had to be done. I've also learned not to pretend like everything is ok. I no longer reply with an automatic "Fine" when someone asks me how I am. I like to think that giving myself permission to not always be happy and peppy gives other people permission to let down their guard.
Most importantly, I've learned that no matter what I do or what I try, I'm never going to feel full of energy this time of year. So I'm trying to let that ideal go - with degrees of varying success. I expect a lot of myself but I also know that setting myself up for failure isn't going to do me any favors. I'm never going to feel like 100% Kristina this time of year so I let that go. It's ok to feel the gloom a bit. Because Spring is coming.
I wanted to get this posted before Valentine's Day - obviously, that didn't happen. We didn't even end up eating this for Valentine's Day. Both my husband and I were so sick that we made do with dumplings (for good luck for the Chinese New Year) and egg drop soup from the closest Chinese restaurant. Instead we made this a few days later while clouds overhead spit down snowflakes and the temperature dropped. As perfect as it would have been for Valentine's Day, it was even more perfect on a snowy, cold night a few nights later.
This is one of my favorite fondues. The shallot and champagne give a wonderful depth to the nutty, buttery cheeses. And please don't forget the nutmeg - the nutmeg makes this dish SING!
Three-Cheese Fondue with Champagne
(Adapted from Epicurious)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups dry (brut) Champagne
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 7 ounces)
1 1/3 cups coarsely grated Emmenthal cheese (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup diced rindless Brie or Camembert cheese (about 3 ounces)
Generous pinch of ground nutmeg(freshly grated nutmeg is wonderful on this)
Pinch of ground white pepper
1 French-bread baguette, crust left on, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
Anything else you want to dip - we also had pieces of apple & pear, grapes, steamed potatoes, green beans & brocoli
Put bread cubes in a baking pan in single layer. Put pan in oven preheated to 300 degrees. Keep in oven until toasted to a light brown.
Mix cornstarch and lemon juice in small bowl and stir until dissolved.
Bring everything out and put in place so you're ready to eat when the fondue is done.
Mix champagne and shallot in fondue pot and heat on medium until simmering. Simmer for two minutes then remove from the heat.
Immediately add all three cheeses and lemon juice and cornstarch mixture(give this a quick stir right before adding). Stir until combined. Cheese will partially melt but you will need to put back on the heat over medium to finish.
Heat over medium until the cheese is melted and fondue thickens.
Add generous sprinkling of ground nutmeg. For best results use whole nutmeg freshly ground using a microplane grater.
Keep over low heat while eating. We needed to keep ours on warm and turn up the heat for about 30 seconds about every 5-10 minutes to keep it nice and melted. Dip in! And make sure to finish off that bottle of champagne!