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Surviving the Long, Cold Winter Part II: Further Fortifications

By: onipar

The cold of winter is here again. I write this from the dead center of a mid-January snowstorm, so I know. Wind howls through ice-covered tree branches. My driveway is covered in snow. The very air has turned white and sharp. Yes, winter is here with all the seasonal trappings.

And we are prepared.

We are prepared because last year you and I erected a retro entertainment fortress to defend against the biting wind. In “Surviving the Long, Cold Winter,” we built towers of movies, walls of food, rooms of retro games, and even moats of hot chocolate. Yet, as I look around our castle, I realize further fortification is necessary this year, for the wind is cold and the wolves are howling at the gate.

Just as our defenses need fortification, so do our bodies. Let’s start with a hot beverage. Last year we dove headfirst into a boiling vat of molten hot chocolate, so this time around why not a hot Dr. Pepper instead. In the 1960s (and a couple decades before my time), Dick Clark promoted a new way to drink Dr. Pepper during the cold winter months. Just heat until steaming and pour over a lemon slice, he said. And Americans listened…at least for a little while. I have yet to try this strange way of drinking soda, but if anything will ready me for what is to come, it’s a hot Dr. Pepper. Down the hatch!

While sipping my beverage, I flip through an old casserole cookbook from ShopRite circa 1956. Again, this is long before my time, but there’s something so familiar about it. I suppose when I was a kid, these kinds of cookbook pamphlets were still sitting around from my parents and grandparents. It’s that same, cyclical nostalgia we have for The Wonder Years, a television show that aired when we were kids but took place in the 60s and 70s. Even though I didn’t grow up in the 60s, I have this strange nostalgia for a generation I only experienced vicariously. So it is with old cookbooks.

I notice an alarming number of dishes I’d never eat in this one though. Beef and Kidney Pie, Sweetbreads and Dried Beef, Tongue and Greens, Smothered Liver with Onions, Deviled Ham-Custard!? I’m starting to think this cookbook was a bad idea, though I may still have to try whipping up one of these abominations due to gnawing curiosity. Perhaps Pizza-Beef Pie or Chicken Pie De Luxe (the “Golden Fluff” variation of course). I still need some edible snacks, and nothing is quite as nostalgic for me than good ol’ Pigs in a Blanket. A side of Doritos or Chex Mix and we’re ready for the next addition.

Last year’s defenses focused disproportionately on movies, so this time around (to develop strength through diversification) I flip through some of my favorite television shows for a cold winter day. I’ll start with a few episodes of Are you Afraid of the Dark?

“That’s an autumn pick,” you say. “Better for a Halloween night than a winter day.”

Perhaps, perhaps. But there are certain episodes perfect for winter, such as “The Tale of the Frozen Ghost.” I’d argue any episode with even a smidge of cold wind will suit us just fine.

I’m honestly not sure if there are any winter-themed episodes of Quantum Leap, but I just started re-watching the series, so I’m cheating and adding it to my list.  Another old favorite for me is Married with Children, and these episodes fit the bill: “It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This,” “My Dinner with Anthrax,” and “Spring Break: Parts 1 and 2” (don’t worry, there’s a blizzard).

No reason to hold to any kind of “cold weather” rules here. Any shows you like to watch during winter are surefire winners. Pack in an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, The Real Ghostbusters, or whatever warms you up inside.

Enjoying some hot soup (a favorite wintertime pick for me is wonton soup from the local Chinese restaurant), I plow through a number of episodes before deciding to read a book for the end of the day. Besides, I’m happy with the new defenses we’ve established, and I realize this was all just an excuse to revisit a familiar place filled with my favorite things. A place I come often, even if the decorations change from season to season. No doubt come summer, our little retro castle will burst forth with Jaws movies and Good Humor ice cream.

I pick through a number of books until settling on Ghost Story by Peter Straub. This one should elicit chills of a different sort this cold evening. It’ll do nicely.

Until next time, friends. What are your winter traditions?


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onipar Posted on Jan 22, 2022 at 02:55 PM

Yeah, hot soda is just such a foreign concept to me, but felt appropriate for this article. I checked out the books you mentioned on Amazon, and they look like good picks! I may have to check them out when time allows. Thanks for the recommendations.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 20, 2022 at 10:07 PM

Ahh. I feel safer within my winterproof fort already.

I have known of the curious case of hot Dr Pepper for quite some time. As my favorite soda, it definitely boggles the mind to think of it being gulped down like a coffee.

My grandmother left us a few boxes of recipes pulled from magazines of her time containing recipes like you mention that really make you scratch your head. Who thought of these things?! Who would have eaten them? Blech! Though, once in a while, I'd come across one that sounded sort of edible.

As for reading, I've been in and out of the world of Olympic Vista (via the Olympic Vista Chronicles), with the first of a series, "Yesterday's Gone" by Kelly Pawlik. It's been a satisfactory defense against the snow and ice.

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