Baton Rouge, Louisiana

This photograph has terrible composition, and is somewhat out of focus. So I don’t love the way it looks. But I love everything in it. That’s my wife Julie, sitting in front of the fire on her birthday tonight. In the foreground is the dinner I cooked for her: bacheofe, which is a meat and vegetable stew from Alsace. Here is the recipe I used. It involves beef, pork, and lamb, marinated overnight in white wine, onions, leeks, garlic, carrots, and juniper berries. You layer it in a Dutch oven or some other deep casserole, with sliced Yukon gold potatoes, then lattice the top with thick slices of bacon.

It is the essence of winter eating, if you ask me. Better to have been chopping wood before sitting down to a meal like this. We ate ours with Alsatian Riesling, though we had a bottle of Côtes du Rhône at the ready too. Seemed better to us on this cold night to feast sitting fireside.