Let’s Hygge Together!

Hygge.

Such a marvelously serpentine-looking word, isn’t it? Interestingly, it doesn’t sound at all like it looks. It’s pronounced hoo-guh, but I always see “higgy.”  Then I think “jiggy.” Then I think, well, all sorts of athletic bed gymnastics–so let’s not go down that rabbit hole together, shall we? Especially as I’m at my mom’s home helping her get set up, stocked up, and stay safe.

Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word that means “a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” It’s about self-care, connecting with loved ones, and dis-connecting from some of those odious, angst-producing elements in our lives. Like the news, for example. Or people who go on Sunday drives during Thursday rush hour, or shockingly long eyebrow hairs, or the color puce.

 

When I browsed the Internet for examples of hygge, I came across the most gorgeous Nordic people doing gorgeously Nordic things, while lounging on gorgeous Nordic throws, pillow, and blankets. I also noticed that you can’t hygge (can that word be a verb?) without a cup of coffee nearby and a string of lights haphazardly hung behind you.

But it doesn’t take a booker at the Wilhelmina Agency to know they’re models! All those chiseled jaws, broad shoulders, and pantingly good looks. And that’s just the women. Don’t get me started on the men. They’re all 10s!

And that’s why I made this video: I wanted to give you a glimpse of what real-life hygge looks like down here among us 4s to 6s.

That’s me at the top in my favorite T-shirt made by our very talented niece, Megan, who creates all kinds of cool items. If you’re wondering where my triple chin and chipmunk cheeks went, so does The One. Ah, the wonders of Photoshop! If I can’t be a model, at least I can try to look like one. And while there was no white furry four-legger around–and my mom’s cat Charlie would never stand to be held–I grabbed one of the stuffed animals from the menagerie on the living room couch. And to give a truly Scandinavian ambiance to the photo, that’s a 100-percent authentic mid-century Danish modern table behind my head.

Mama Leite, dressed in an ancient workshirt of my late dad’s, has been spending these days as she has for the past several decades–at her computer in the breezeway clacking away at the Prayer Net, which she and my dad created for their church.

Me? Since Sunday, I’ve been living in my very hygge-like shearling slippers, sweats, and “Enjoy Chouriço” shirt. I’m spending my time in the dining room working away on the new computer I bought Mama, which she’s too scared to use right now.

Precisely at 7:00 PM, the computers are put to sleep, and we sit and watch “Wheel of Fortune” then “Jeopardy,” shouting out answers and dissing the contestants who mess up. (Yes, we’re evil and we love it.)

Since Mama Leite has hung up her spatula for good, all she eats is prepared and frozen foods, so there’s no cooking while I’m visiting her. I’ve been happily living on–que surpresa–chouriço sandwiches from Cinderella Bakery in Fall River.

 

Tomorrow, I return to The One and to another kind of hygge. This one is all about cooking, binge-watching “Hillary,” “Upstairs Downstairs” (the 2010 version), and, Lord help me, reruns of “Antiques Road Show.” The One will continue reading Death in Strange Country while I’ll finally finish Ethan Frome and The Song of Achilles. Devil Cat will burrow into our chests as he’s wont to do.

Tell me: How do you hygge?

In the comments below, tell me what are you making, baking, cooking, doing, playing, enjoying, fighting about? Share ideas, share pictures, share the love!

Let’s see if we can take care of each other, make each other laugh, and enjoy ourselves during this tough time. Remember, hygge!

David

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

Comments

  1. Hygge requires extra planning during these stay-at-home times. For my Danish Azorean One, that means a special trip to Market Basket a few towns away to stock up on chopped frozen kale & chouriço for his caldo verde. Of course, molasses, ginger, & cardamom are on the list as well. ❤️

  2. David, I’m glad you guys are staying safe and well. This is a grand time to remind people about Hygge! We’re into cozy year-round. And tomorrow’s bread baking will add to the cozy, homey hygge vibe. Easy dinners with on-hand ingredients are filling the bill this week, today Ground Beef and Bean Chili. But before dinner, think I’ll cozy up with the cat and a cup of tea and watch Have Gun Will Travel (it’s good just now to spend part of each day living in the past!).

  3. Today: Chocolate Chip cookies for the Bread Line’s Stone Soup Cafe, which is coping by making bag lunches and letting guests in 10 at a time to get warm, get a cup of coffee, and wash up. Cookies make bag lunches better.

    THEN I’m taking the Rose Levy Bernbaum challenge of Kougin Amin. I can’t see any reason why it should be more difficult than croissants, in fact, it looks simpler and shorter. I’ll let you know.

    Then a walk in the snowy woods before the next 7 inches dumps on us tonight, when we will finish binge-watching Giri/Hajii (Check it out. Amazing)

    Oh, did I say that I am also a vegetarian who is trying, unsuccessfully, to move to vegan.

  4. Love everything you put out. Thank you.

    I have no problem with hunkering down. I love my home and cooking. It’s what I enjoy doing. Much to my surprise, I’ve been having great fun with my new Instant pot. The hubs seems to be enjoying it also. At least I haven’t heard any complaints.

    I hope to finally try baking those whole wheat chocolate chip cookies you posted recently. They sound amazing!

    Here’s me and my pup hygging while practising social distancing as best we could.

    Stay well, and thanks again.

  5. Hi David

    Day five of lockdown in Northern California. Cooking is so comforting and distracting.

    Making all of the components of the meatball lasagna from Alex Guarnaschelli. This is the second time for that particular recipe. Scrumptious! Also apple pie bars from Ina Garten.

    Hope you and your family stay well!

  6. You are the best, David. You capture the desperation of our common situation, wrap it in sugar, and make it go down easier. Elaine and I, like many, have been hosting virtual cocktail parties at 6pm each night at great risk to our livers. Walking around town has been soothing and keeps the limbs limber. Best to and The One.

    1. Dear Robert, thank you, sir. I’m delighted by your virtual cocktail party. Sounds lovely. I guess our invitations got lost in our spam folders. Love to both. 😉

  7. Is it wrong to begin sipping gin at 11:30 am while mixing up a batch of chocolate gingerbread cookies?
    David, you bring joy, and I thank you!
    Stay well!

  8. Oh my goodness David, this made me laugh out loud! I had a serious knee injury while visiting my mom and her husband in Connecticut and had to stay with them (both in their 80s) for two weeks while my torn meniscus healed. What is it with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy? Haha! Boy, it’s like a semi-religious experience for them.

    I’m back in MA now, doing the self-isolation thing, as I may possibly have been exposed to Covid-19 through my workplace. My pantry is always completely stocked, same with my freezer, oh, so the biggest challenge for me is safely going out to shop for fresh produce & dairy items. Oh, and all the markets around here are out of toilet paper, what’s up with that?

    I am listening to music, doing a little bit of meditating, watching lots of movies and binge-watching shows I have missed, and also doing a lot of reading, which has always been an escape from anxiety and a lifesaver for me since childhood.

    Already made a lot of baked goods for Lord knows who that are in the freezer, and I’m trying to cut down on the cooking a little because it’s only me. But it has been comfort-food city around here, for the most part. And lots of dips and things to dip them into. Lol.

    We finally have a sunny day here today, so I’m going outside to start prepping my garden and do a little raking…fresh air feels heavenly! Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your life. I really enjoyed this so much.

    Stay safe and healthy, everybody, and please please take the social distancing directives seriously! Blessings.

    1. Kim, sorry about your knee. I hope it’s ok now. Please keep us posted about possible Covid-19. I hope you don’t have it. And it seems as if you have this self-isolation thing (I prefer to think of it as solitude) down pat! Stay well and keep on cooking and baking!

  9. I’ve run to the store for me and Mom a couple of times – we’ve gotten almost everything we need but who the heck is hoarding all the Lactaid cottage cheese? – and we’ve each been prepping food to share with each other for our freezers: I make sweet potato gunk (kinda like hash with *really good chorizo from a butcher in some faraway place where only my brother goes); she makes gumbo. I make more sweet potato gunk; she makes the slow-cooker pea soup from this site that we’ve adapted to the stove with some tweaks to the ingredients. I make more sweet potato gunk; she makes vegetable beef soup. And gumbo. And lasagna. (I help her cook when I’m at her house, after making grocery runs and wiping down her counters with bleach water.)

    Haven’t quite settled into the coziness of being home but as this becomes more normal, I’m sure that will come.

    I have a string of Christmas lights in the living room. I pile most of them on the spider of a lamp and then let the rest hang down the base toward the outlet. Really can’t beat that glow!

    Hugs to you all! We’ll get through this!

    1. Beth! You two are definitely in the groove! We need to rethink the name of that positively beguiling-sounding dish. “Sweet Potato Gunk” doesn’t do it justice, I’m sure! Please give my love to Mama K. xoxox

      1. Love has been given to Mama K!

        As for Sweet Potato Gunk, we’re not fancy people. We also make a dish that’s affectionately known as Cousin Betty’s Chicken Goop.

        But the Gunk is equal parts diced onion and green pepper (I probably use two cups of each), sautéed in a large frying pan over medium-high heat with some salted butter with a bit of extra salt to sweat the veggies a bit. Then a pound of chorizo (good stuff from a butcher, not the stuff in tubes that’s mostly fat) goes in and is cooked through more or less, then shredded sweet potato. (Peel ’em first! No human needs that degree of fiber moving through them.) I use five or six medium-to-large-ish tubers. Mound it into the frying pan and lower the heat to a medium-low. I set my timer for 10-minute increments and get up and give it a repositioning each time as it cooks down, turning it carefully so as not to make a mess. What begins as a Matterhorn of shredded sweet potato eventually ends up even with the top of the pan.

        It’s delish with grated cheese on top – Pepper Jack if you want a bit more zing or extra-sharp white or yellow cheddar is good, too – with a fried egg or two over that if you want a heartier meal.

        If you like mushrooms, add ’em! If you’re vegetarian, maybe skip the chorizo and add some hot sauce when you eat it! There are no rules!

          1. Mom reminded me that we also like Ham, Macaroni, and Cheese All In One Glob.
            We are epicures to the nth degree!

  10. Nice Article :) You’re a good son, but I think we already knew that.

    I find comfort in hugging my cup of green tea, cooking a lot: Lucinda Quinn’s Eggplant Parmesan (2 times so far); adobe BBQ Chicken (2 times); baking blueberry buckles, maple nut blondies with cream cheese maple frosting (my word is that delicious)! Elizabeth David’s chocolate mousse and baking your chocolate chunk skillet cookie is on my list.

    Slow breathing my lavender oil which brings me back to beautiful Provence. Most of all Facetiming/chatting with my son, family, and friends. Thank heavens for technology. All these bring me comforting moments during these surreal days. Wishing you and all at Leite’s many hygge moments.

  11. Let’s see. Just eat some collard greens from the garden, with cornbread to soak up the juice. And now I am in my recliner with a 35 pound Staffordshire mix puppy behind my neck, snoring softly with her muzzle tucked under my jaw. Sorry, this old laptop doesn’t have a camera. Just a fat and happy old man watching my grandson grow.

  12. Eating lots of comfort food ( hello, mashed potatoes!! ) and giving Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu a run for their money!

  13. Hi David – made a couple loaves of Irish soda bread this week. The only change I made to the recipe my Mom used to use, is I plump my raisins with a bit of Jameson’s & water, over low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Yum!

  14. So, I didn’t know there was a name for how my wife and I live.

    This morning we had coffee by the woodstove with our four dogs snoozing out, cats in the other room, least they get chased. Breakfast was my wife’s first attempt at puff pastry, pinwheels with spiced apple and cream cheese centers. Excellent.

    We are retired and are lucky enough to have dismissed the annoyances of a career and hang around in whatever suits us.

    Six months out of the year we live in a small town (outside of Fall River), the other six months we live on and island in North Atlantic Canada. That’s where we really hygge and didn’t know it.

    The island takes several ferries to get to, has about 116 people and 4 miles of road. Life is lived by the 20 foot tides and the local ferry (where strangers become friends in the 28 minute crossing). We have no store or restaurants, so life takes planning. We live there with our 3 labs and a miniature schnauzer. (We have to leave our 3 cats home, taken care of by a close friend.)

    My wife does a lot of baking, I do the cooking. She weaves, knits and teaches basket making, I make doormats out of used fishing rope, whimsical fish and beach glass jewelry

    Pretty much everyone on the island cooks and bakes; everything. Lots of seafood, bread, and pies which vary by the season. Lobsters get dropped off, deep sea scallops hours out of the ocean, my neighbor and I smoke fish, steamers for the digging and the big feature for this Portuguese boy is periwinkles, nice large ones!

    We frequently have friends over for dinner anywhere from 2 to 10. last year we introduced them to clam boils. Huge hit! Love to hear them try to pronounce linguica and chourico. We also cooked Asian, Italian and Portuguese dinners with food transported from home.

    Neighbors stop in, everyone knows each other and when the ferry finishes its final run of the day a kind of coziness sets in.

    We are alone until tomorrow.

    PS. Very cool shirt.

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