“The absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things” Helen Russel
You may have heard the word hygge being bounded about recently as it’s become the “in”word, but in fact concept hygge is not new as it originated in Norway before the Danes embraced the idea of hygge in the 1800’s and have incorporated it into their culture ever since.
So what is hygge? Well in a nut shell, its taking pleasure from the presence of the gentle soothing things in life as well as being kind and gentle to yourself. Hygge represents embracing gratitude, well-being, enjoying the experience of living rather than stuff around us and enjoying the things in life that are free.
Although you don’t experience hygge at only one time of the year, in my opinion hygge does sort of come into its own in the autumn. When air begins to get chilly, wind begins to pick up, the leaves start to turn to a golden red and yellow and the cycle of life is coming to an end.
It’s during this change and celebrating the life that is past that we begin to create intimacy in our homes making them feel cozy, warm, inviting and familiar. This intimacy is actually what hygge is all about; it is about creating an environment that is to be enjoyed.
In my house hygge represents the flickering shadows of the candles flame on the walls, thick warm socks, homemade blankets to snuggle up under, the sound of laugher and the smell of homemade food slowly cooking in the kitchen.
Home cooked food is one of the fundamental ways that bring people together and in my family home there is always soul warming, slowly cooking ready to bring everyone together to enjoy a heart warming feast. This act of eating together triggers the endorphins in the brain, which plays an important role in social bonding. With everyone sitting around the dining table enjoying each other others company over a home cooked meal helps us to create a social net work that not only has a profound effect on our health but also creates memories we will look back on over and over again throughout the years.
Hygge food is;
- Warm comforting dishes, like heartily pies, stews and anything that is slow cooked involving gravy.
- Heavy and traditional meals your great grandmother use to make, like steam pudding.
- Food loaded with carbs as these are proven to raise the levels of serotonin, the chemical in the brain that elevates mood, which results in a natural rise in happiness levels after you have finished your meal.
One of my favorite huggy dishes, which always bring’s back childhood memories every time I take a bite, is bread and butter pudding covered in yummy cream (custard if I’m being good). I wanted to incorporate the same sensory experience that I receive from bread and butter pudding, on a Saturday autumn morning, in my panamas, wrapped up in a blanket, watching the rain through my dining room windows. And I did it with Polly Conner & Rachel Tiemeyer, Apple & Raisin Baked French Toast (from their book From Freezer to Table) Not only was this recipe easy to make (cos you make it the day night before) each bite left me feeling hygge, full of gratitude, snug in side and created new memories of us all all snuggled up around the dining room table enjoying a hearty, comforting breakfast while the rain was beating against our windows.
Apple Raisin Baked French Toast
Makes 8 servings
- 10 slices whole grain bread (or enough to fill a 13″ x 9″ baking dish), torn into small pieces
- 2 cups chopped apples (about 2 apples; no need to peel)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 cups milk
- 8 large eggs
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Coat a 13″ x 9″ glass baking dish with cooking spray. In the dish, evenly spread out the torn bread pieces. Sprinkle the apples and raisins evenly over the top of the bread.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter, maple syrup, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.
- Pour the egg mixture over the top of the bread. Sprinkle the pecans on top.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set and the top is golden.
- Serve warm. Add more butter and maple syrup, if desired or cream is you are wanting to feel really hygge.
What homemade meal makes you feel all hyggy?
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