In our quest to keep winter away, to reduce the amount of times we yearn for the Lake Merritt farmer's market in January or the fact my sweaters were nearly all 3/4 length when we left California, we continue to seek ways to enjoy winter, embrace it, endure it.
In this vein, there's very little that an expensive version of a daily treat can't fix - chai from Chaiwalla (purchased at bklyn larder). At $19/bag I was skeptical for months, "can this tea truly be any better than the recipe I've been using for 15 years from Sundays at Moosewood?" It's different, and it's worth it. A tablespoon of tea and sugar (I rarely add sugar to my chai - only if it's in the recipe do I add enough of it) combined with a cup of hot water and a cup of milk - heat until boiled - and we have creamy cups of fragrant chai at our fingertips (and still less per cup than the 3.55 cups purchased anywhere from Cafe Grumpy to Starbucks).
Along with the chai, we've been spreading pieces of pulla thick with butter and crunchy with my barely ground cardamon pods and pairing them each weekend morning, afternoon, and after dinner. I've made this recipe twice, happier the first time than the second - I braided it less evenly, had to cook it longer, and it wasn't as moist when finished - throwing one loaf in the freezer for the few days it takes us to eat the first. It sits on my desk all day, the aroma tempting me, until I dig into it mid-morning with a cup of gen mai cha (already had my black tea for the morning and need to wrap my hands around something warm but not as caffeinated) before I head down to lunch duty.
The sheepskin sleepers, flannel sheets, flannel pjs, willingness to turn on the heat as soon as we get home and the jaunt to Hawaii have helped us weather our 3rd east coast winter since college, but these small treats actually help us look forward to starting a day that might involve digging out the car or darting black ice and puddles on our way out each day - and in the end, it's cheaper per experience than knocking out each pre-Oscar-film we want to see at the Angelika (or BAM).