Outdoor Adventures

Cozy up–or Cook–by a Fire This Winter

Here in the Northwest, we’re fortunate to have relatively mild winters – at least when it comes to temperatures.

But pile on our perennial darkness, clouds and drizzle and, well, winter feels every bit like real winter.

One of the best ways to add a much-needed shot of light and warmth into the season?

Fire.

That’s right. Fire. A blazing hearth in a historic lodge after a day on the slopes can do wonders for chilled bones. A backyard bonfire with family can make a rare, clear January day feel – almost – like June. And nothing warms the innards like a steaming Dutch oven filled with stew warmed by the coals of an open fire.

However, if you live here in this area, it will most likely not be enough to light a fire to feel warm inside your house. Instead, you need to conserve the heat inside your home in order to keep it warm. And for that, you must keep all of your home’s doors and windows in good working order; otherwise, heat may escape the room through dented windows and doors. As a result, before the winters arrive in full force, you may want to have the Renewal by Andersen casement windows/doors installed to trap the majority of the heat inside your home to keep it warm, cozy, and comfortable.
When the proper insulation is in order, you might also like to look at cleaner and greener options to heat your hearth more effectively. Also, when there are so many options that can improve the overall look of your interior along with serving the main purpose, why not seek them! That said, if you are already eager to explore some of those, you could check out websites like thefireplacestore.ca and similar others that offer different kinds of fireplaces.

You could even install a water heater inside your bathroom to add another level of comfort for yourself. In the bone-chilling winters, who would want to take a cold-water shower? It may also cause people to become ill. That is why you should consider and possibly look for a professional plumber in your area by searching for keywords like “plumber near Studio City” who can properly install the water heater at your home. Winter temperatures can also cause problems such as frozen pipes, flooding, and other water damage. So, by using a water heater, you may be able to protect your home from these issues as well.

Anyway, coming back to our main topic of discussion, here are some ideas for how flames can brighten and warm your winter.

Now We’re Cooking

The first thing you should probably do is install a solar light beside your backyard pathway by contacting companies like Olympia Lighting, inc. so that it can add some light and you don’t use sugar instead of salt in your recipe. Artificial nighttime lighting from sources such as street lamps can have an impact on the overall appearance of your garden. The solar LED street lamps can get charged during the day and might be ready to use all night. As a result, solar area lights could be far more efficient than their conventional counterparts.

Additionally, for folks with backyard firepits – or those who visit day-use areas outfitted with firepits – cooking up something warm can turn the heat up on any chilly day.

“The heat that emanates from embers and coals is great for cooking,” said Stephen Weston, an Idaho-based expedition chef and author of the book, “In the Wild Chef: Recipes from Base Camp to Summit.”

But don’t expect to cook well – or without burning your food – by jumping right in with an open flame. Instead, Weston said the best strategy is to build a fire that burns strong and continuously for at least an hour. Let it burn to the point where a solid foundation of hot embers forms. This will provide a consistent base of heat.

Next, harvest some of the coals, pushing them to one side of the firepit. Keep the main fire burning with small logs while continuing to pull coals over to the side for cooking.

For a first attempt, try Weston’s recipe for Crispy Wonton Mozzarella Sticks:

Ingredients:

  • 4 Mozzarella cheese sticks (halved to make 8 pieces)
  • 8 wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • cup marinara or ranch dressing

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the edges of a wonton wrapper with the egg wash, and then place one piece of cheese in the middle. Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly over the cheese. Roll the wrapper over like a jelly roll and make sure the edges are sealed shut. Repeat the process with the remaining seven wrappers and seven pieces of string cheese.

Gently skewer the wrapped mozzarella horizontally onto roasting forks. Cook the sticks over hot coals in the firepit for 5-6 minutes being careful not to put over direct flame. Rotate occasionally until wrapper becomes puffy and turns golden brown. Serve with marinara or ranch dressing.

Lodge light-ups

Not up for cooking but still want some winter heat? The Northwest is home to some charming lodges and inns that boast hard-to-resist hearths.

National Park Inn Head to Mt. Rainier for a day of fun in the snow at Paradise, then warm up by the stone fireplace inside this rustic and inviting lodge in the Longmire Historic District.

Lake Quinault Lodge Get away to the Olympics for a weekend and stay toasty by the lodge’s roaring brick fireplace.

Vista House at Mt. Spokane Take a midday break from the ski slopes of Mt. Spokane with a hot beverage in front of this historic structure’s grand stone fireplace.

Timberline Lodge (Oregon) You won’t find another fireplace like the three-story stone stunner that dominates the historic Timberline Lodge high up on the slopes of Mt. Hood.

Image by EJJohnsonPhotography