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How to get through the hardest month of the year

person with umbrella on cold day in winter in city

Austin Scherbarth / unsplash

Cecilia Pigg - published on 01/31/23

These 4 elements borrowed from the culinary world can make February a little more bearable.

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In the next couple of weeks, If you start asking yourself “why am I so sad?” and if you can’t pinpoint any one good reason, here’s the thing: It’s February.

February is rough. Such a short month, but often cold and full of dreariness. This is where 4 elements from the culinary world highlighted in a popular book and cooking show can provide a little help.

Just as in cooking, if we add the right amounts of salt, fat, acid, and heat to this next month, it can turn into a lovely and satisfying time of year. I have yet to read the cookbook or watch the Netflix show by the same name — Salt. Fat. Acid. Heat — but maybe this is the month I will check it out.

So, based on those 4 elements, here are a few things I’m going to do to keep up my spirits for the next 28 days.

Add salt

Add some salt to my diet.

Some say there are numerous health benefits if you add salt to the water you drink. This could be true, or perhaps it’s true that it helps some people more than others, depending on their diet, lifestyle, exercise routines, etc.

There’s another kind of salt though, that I enjoy cooking with, and can add benefits to your life no matter your genetic makeup or exercise routine — blessed salt, or exorcized salt.

Blessed salt is a sacramental (like holy water), and I use it to grace up my cooking. Do my kids get a nicely seasoned dinner with a dash of fight-the-devil? You betcha.

Ask your priest to bless some salt (you could bring some after Mass on Sunday). Or better yet, invite him over to dinner and ask him then. 

Another idea: Add some saltines to your entertainment. Try a witty TV show or book this month. I recommend anything by P.G. Wodehouse (on Audible, make sure the narrator is Jonathan Cecil). The TV show starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry is also entertaining. 

Add acid 

Add acid to my skincare routine.

If you don’t have a skincare routine, then consider trying this lemon and yogurt rinse and moisturizer. Your face will be more sensitive to sunlight after using lemon on it, so take that into consideration if you live somewhere sunny. But for many of us, sunlight in February is hard to come by.

The bonus of the lemon moisturizer is that you can put some on in the morning, and then sprinkle it on some granola and eat the rest of it for breakfast. It’s just lemon, yogurt, and honey, so I’m not kidding.

Add acid to your decor. Put a bowl of fresh lemons on the table. If lemons are exorbitantly expensive (thanks, inflation!), then just put a tiny bowl with one lemon in it. The bright color and pleasing shape of a lemon can instantly brighten up a room.   

Add fat

Add a little fat to the afternoon. Bake cookies. Yep, cookies. There are so many ways to make these delightful treats, and the smell of your house is worth it on a rough day.

Have you heard of savory cookies? Healthy cookies? Gluten and dairy free cookies? Cookies to dip in your warm, comforting beverage of choice?

My current dream is to host a party where the only food served is cookies … mostly of the savory variety. But, if baking is at all therapeutic for you, and you need a pick me up, try a new or tried and true recipe. 

Add heat

Add heat (and light) to your abode!

Bring out the blankets. Light candles. Wear the ridiculous fuzzy socks you got for Christmas. And then add some heat to your life by learning salsa dancing at your local butcher shop. Okay, perhaps that is not an option near you, but I look back fondly on those days when I learned how to salsa next to the meat counters. Long story, but if you have the opportunity to learn a new dance this month, try it!

Creating fun, strange memories by trying something new and unexpected might be just the ticket to inject some verve into the rest of this month. 

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