They’ve finally arrived… those rainy days and the stormy weather that mark winter in these parts, including some early snow in the Hermon. Given the warm, dry November that just passed, everyone’s ready for winter, looking to bundle up and drag out the necessary gear, foods and remedies for the colder weeks ahead.
Perhaps it was because of the earlier-than-usual Hanukkah, but it felt like a particularly warm November, one that altered expectations for everything from designers’ seasonal collections and Krembo-noshing to farmers’ crops and army wear. Now that winter’s here, what’s the best way to welcome it?
Here are our top five ways to celebrate the arrival of rain and storms, chilly days and cold nights. It’s about time.
1) For soldiers, it’s all about getting new winter coats, now that the army has decided to finally shed the Dubon, that bulky polyester-filled anorak that warmed soldiers for many a winter. But while it’s a necessary layer when out in the cold, just like the Hermonit — the full-body snowsuit named for the snowy mountain in the Golan — it generally isn’t used by most soldiers, who prefer to brave the weather sans coat, or pull on the army-issued fleeces that were first issued in the 1990s. It’s a decision that’s been a long time coming, according to Lieutenant Colonel Avraham Oren.
“We identify the process and then we start to think about solutions,” said Oren. “There won’t be a new coat anytime soon, but we knew that the Dubon was an old solution, something that’s not as comfortable to wear or stuff into your heavy pack.” His unit will be thinking about the newer materials that are out there, something light and durable, as well as rain- and wind-resistant and warm, Oren continued. The Dubon has also been through some changes, he related; it has a hood that now folds into the collar, although the outer layer is the same as it always was.
2) From another side of the clothing industry, designers and boutique owners have been bemoaning the late onset of winter, as no one’s looking to buy sweaters and jackets when it’s 80° Fahrenheit (almost 27° Centigrade) outside. “The end-of-year sales will be starting in mid-December — and that’s early — because of the weather,” commented Naomi Lawson, who owns Osfa, a boutique in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood. “I think a lot of designers have adapted themselves to long, hot autumns and there are far fewer thick fabrics being used at all. Designers are also exporting more and that’s what’s saving some of the designers I work with.”
As the season progresses, there are additions to the collection, with heavier fabrics, explained Michal Chitayat, head of marketing for Ronen Chen. But they’ve already learned from past years, she said, that most of the collection is made with lightweight fabrics, in autumnal colors and prints. “As the season progresses, the fabrics get heavier,” said Chitayat. “Of course, we haven’t sold as many heavy knits as usual, but we are optimists.”
3) Everyone overate during the eight days of Hanukkah — how many Roladin sufganiyot (donuts) did you eat? — but it’s not wintertime until you eat a Krembo, that Israeli confection of marshmallow cream atop a cookie and covered in a thin layer of chocolate. The now Unilever-brand Krembo (they own 51% of Strauss Ice Cream, which bought the original Krembo name from the Whitman Company) still markets the Krembo as a winter treat, replacing ice cream; they are on sale from October through February. Many a local chef has reinvented the Krembo with better ingredients, such as Lotus caramelized cookies for the base and dark chocolate for the coating. Recipe developer Carine Goren offers her “Krembo Muffins,” which are really chocolate cupcakes topped with meringue and dipped in dark chocolate.
Krembo Cupcakes (makes 12)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup cocoa
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup oil
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
Warm the oven to 180°. Mix egg, sugar, cocoa, milk, oil and water to form a uniform dough. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.
- 3 egg whites
- 2 cups sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pour boiling water into a pan, just covering the bottom of the pot. Mix the egg whites, sugar, water and salt in a bowl, setting the bowl on top of the pot to warm the whites, mixing them until the sugar dissolves and the bowl is warm to the touch.
- Transfer the bowl to the counter, and use an electric mixer to whip the whites mixture until fluffy and creamy. Spoon the meringue on top of the muffins in a spiral, and freeze for 20 minutes.
- 300 grams chocolate
- 3 tablespoons oil
- Melt the chocolate, add the oil and mix together.
- Pour chocolate mixture into a cup that’s tall and wide, and dip meringued cupcakes into the melted chocolate.
4) When the weather gets rough, everyone thinks it’s time to drink red wine. But that’s not the only answer for winter wines, said Itzik Wolf, owner of the Midbar Winery in Arad. “People think that when winter comes, you have to drink red wine… and less of the white,” related Wolf. “We sell a slightly sweet white wine, the Lavan 44. It’s a blend, and the most popular wine we sell, because it goes with everything.” As for reds, Wolf claimed that wine drinkers are affected by the sheer volume of reds available in the supermarket and wine stores, and don’t like to spend anything more than NIS 100 per bottle, if that much. They also like to buy what they know — and can pronounce — he said, hence the popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon. “It’s just like with a Chardonnay… They know how to say that better than ‘Viognier,’ and that’s what they ask for.”
5) Finally, with the cold weather settling in — and assuming you’ve recovered from any allergies, colds, or coughs you had during the endless summery fall — it’s time to eat some red grapefruit, especially if you suffer from high cholesterol. According to a study conducted at The Hebrew University Rehovot campus, one red grapefruit a day brings down cholesterol and lessens the risk of heart disease, with even more striking results than yellow grapefruit. Good thing there’re plenty of red grapefruits to go around. According to the Plants Production and Marketing Board, we’re still on target for a good red-grapefruit year, as well as the rest of the citrus fruits grown on local soil. So eat up.