Winter Weather Survival Tips and Irish Stew

| December 27, 2010

As the U.S. North East coast gets its first substantial snow dump this winter, I feel it my duty to share with you the many learnings I have made in the past month or so of surviving rather unbearable weather conditions in Northern Europe. Here in Northern Ireland we experienced a very uncharacteristic two weeks of relentless freezing temperatures (we reached a low point of -18c/0f) with about 6 to 10 inches of snow lying on the ground the whole time.

Christmas Day 2010 in Broughshane, Northern Ireland

So here it is, I have come up with my very own top 5 winter survival tips list! This is by no means a comprehensive list, and I do hope that many of you will pitch in with your own tips.

Tip 1: Avoid Heathrow Airport


Even though the BAA boss has generously (smirk) forgone his end of year bonus, I somehow doubt that will cover the cost of the airport’s catastrophic performance in recent weeks.

Tip 2: Have lots of coal and wood for the fire stocked up

Let me tell you, stone cottages get very cold if they are not kept constantly heated! The central heating only seemed to take the chill out of the air, and it was a generously stocked fire that made life bearable. A well stocked-up stove fire also allows you to make tip 5 happen.

Tip 3: Proper attire: layers and wellington boots

My new orange wellies

This tip is pretty straight-forward and everyone will have their own way of doing this. My main attire consisted of a cotton under vest, polo-neck, down vest and wooly cardigan on top with thick tights under fleece-lined ski-pants and wool mix socks. This was all covered up with a down coat, scarf, hat and gloves, and my new orange wellington boots!

Tip 4: Have a 100% mohair Avoca blanket and hot water bottle at hand (oh and a fat cat helps too!)

A rare shot of my hot water bottle without me attached to it, oh and the mohair throw

As I shared in my post ‘Avoca – An Irish Treasure’, Avoca weaves the most delicious wool throws and I believe that everyone should have one, especially in cold weather. They are so cozy. As for hot water bottles, if you have not had one then you really have no idea what you are missing. Over the past two weeks, my hot water bottle and I have been literally stuck at the hip. During my time in Washington, D.C., I shared this tip with a number of people, and they are all converts now, right Belinda?

Bugsie Fat Cat on his own throw

Tip 5: Cups of tea and coffee on a drip, and a bowl of hearty Irish stew

Irish stew certainly doesn't win any beauty contests 😉

Nothing like some good old honest to goodness Irish stew to warm you up on a cold winter’s day. Like most traditional recipes, there is no particular recipe to Irish stew as everyone will make it differently. Your standard Irish stew will have potatoes, onions, carrots, and lamb or beef along with some kind of stock and salt and pepper seasoning.  Additional veggies like parsnip, turnip, butternut squash are also often used. Note: Ginger is definitely not a common Irish ingredient, but I love it so!

My time to make the stew today was limited and after all the meat fest of the past weekend, I wasn’t feeling the need for much meat, so I cut a few corners here and there.  Irish stew should simmer for an hour or so,  but I cooked up most of the ingredients separately and then brought them all together for a simmer time of 20 minutes. Here is what I put together for two generous servings:

Zomppa’s Irish Stew

Irish Stew


  • 1/2lb of beef stewing steak
  • 8 small potatoes
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • some fresh chopped ginger
  • 1/2 beef stock cube
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsps of sunflower oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Chop up onions and ginger, and cube meat, potatoes and carrots
  2. Boil carrots and potatoes with the chopped ginger in slated water
  3. Brown meat in sunflower oil and season
  4. Brown the onions
  5. Mix everything together then add some stock and season
  6. Leave to simmer for 20 mins

So, tell me, what do you start craving in this type of weather? What wintry tips do you have to share?

Check us out on Heart N Soup Hop and Tip Day Thursday!

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Category: Europe, Featured Articles: Travel & Culture, Main Dish - Land and Sea, Recipe Vault, Soups, Travel & Culture

About the Author (Author Profile)

Kat is not only a whiz at online new media and social networking–is the brains getting this site up and running!–but she’s also a monster on the tennis courts. Her penchant for honesty and genuine pursuit to lead a good life has garnered her many fans, although she is far too modest to even realize this. A connoisseur of espressos, cappuccinos and Italian/Irish gastronomy, Kat will gladly share her opinions in one of four languages. Check out Kat’s site if you need help with your social media and web communications strategies

Comments (10)

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  1. Belinda says:

    I think we all need this this week!!

  2. a Nordn'Ireland dad says:

    Fully concur with your five tips for survival, even though it is not comprehensive – especially the Irish stew!

  3. Hazeleva says:

    Travelers in Europe might also wish to avoid Eurostar travel between London and Paris unless they like being stuck in a freezing cold tunnel under the English Channel/La Manche for hours!

  4. Patty says:

    YUMMY! I love your stew and to me, the stew would most certainly win a beauty contest, was I the judge! Lovely! And thanks very much for the tips. I feel a little bit disappointed as we haven’t seen any snow! (or hardly any). Sucks.

  5. Miz Helen says:

    Your photo’s are wonderful. I love the looks of your wood burning stove today as it is very cold here. Your Irish Stew looks very good, I had it at my Irish Grandmother’s many times and it brings back warm memories. Thank you for sharing and Happy New Year!

  6. sweetlife says:

    I would totally crown you irish stew, lol
    great tips..we have had no cold weather here in Texas,


  7. Christy says:

    One of my favorite lines from an old disney movie is “in Ireland all the stew is Irish!” I have a similar list of weather survival tips that work for my area of the world! Thanks for sharing them and your stew with the Hearth and Soul Hop!

  8. The delicious and warming Irish stew sounds just perfect in the cold wintery weather!

  9. Wendy says:

    I love a good Irish Stew. Thanks for linking up to TDT. Would love to have you stop by anytime.

    Please note the new web addy and rss feed.

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