In Our Winter 2017 Issue

By Stephanie Schuckers Burdo / Photography By Ed Bernik | Last Updated November 15, 2017
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Ice Wine on Ice


As the north winds blow lake effect storms over Western New York, most of us spend our daylight hours indoors. No more hanging out with the neighbors as we tend our yards and gardens or going for walks along the beach. The shorter days, inclement weather and fewer commitments take hold, and our sense of space, family and community change accordingly.

Several years ago, faced with an empty nest, I traded a big house and most of my furniture and possessions for a small apartment. While it’s the perfect size for me, it doesn’t lend itself well to multiple visitors. So, in planning her Christmas homecoming this year, my London-based daughter has requested that we find a house, perhaps a vacation rental, where we can invite family and friends to come and stay, to prepare meals, sit around the table, play cards, and wake up with breakfast and coffee, together.

My most cherished memories are of holidays, home and family in winter—candles flickering, logs crackling in the fireplace, my father playing piano after a long day at work—later my children making their own music, the aroma of a roast for dinner, or eggs and pancakes for a large family breakfast wafting from the kitchen. These recollections are accompanied by a feeling, not only of nostalgia and peace, but also of safety, contentment and joy—within these moments, all was well. I imagine the warm house and company a cocoon of protection against the cold as well as the chaos and pressures of life outside.

While I write this letter, I think about all of those who have recently lost their homes and livelihoods due to natural and man-influenced disasters—hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and fires. Suddenly, my sense of home seems overly simple and shallow.

And then I realize that while I associate that feeling of safety and intimacy with a particular space, it is really community that gives it substance and security—family, friends, church, neighbors, co-workers and schoolmates—those who surround, support and encourage each other on a daily basis. I have a new appreciation for people coming together to share chores, meals, stories, laughter and tears in a space, however temporary, that becomes a home.

What does home mean to you?

Wishing you simple pleasures and a place to call home this season,


Ice Wine: How sweet it is

Chambourcin ice wine grapes at Johnson Estate Winery in Westfield, NY
Ice wine—that sweet liquid libation, the perfect dessert wine to enjoy after an evening of dining, is oh so pricey, but oh so delicious! What exactly is ice wine, how is it made, and most...

The Foraged Holiday

Most Christmases, we blend the transient with the heritage. We still harvest our tree from the woods, and I really enjoy creating our other decorations from foraged materials, as well.

Splendid Sourdough: Cultivating comfort and connection

Sourdough connects its cultivators to traditional bread bakers the world over, centuries into the past, and to our particular locales in the here and now. And while so much of nature sleeps, winter is...

Cool Beans! It's Winter.

This time of year, a locavore in our region still has plenty of opportunities to find local food—if one knows where to look. Even if fresh foods are not being harvested, many have been stored and...

Aztec Black Bean & Squash Soup

When we think of a sophisticated ethnic cuisine, most of us think French, Italian or even Japanese. Mexican cuisine is derived from the Aztecs and influenced by the European colonizers. It, too, is a...

Japanese Gardens: Winter Landscapes for Mind, Body and Soul

Cherry Trees in Winter at the Buffalo History Museum
Conventional gardens are generally designed to highlight spring and summer while Japanese gardens are intended to be enjoyed year-round, as inspirational, albeit esoteric, collaborators with winter....

Celebrating Heritage by the Glass

The smell in the house from all the spices, alcohol, and honey cooking—you can’t compare it to anything! It creates a warm, welcoming, comfortable atmosphere in the home.
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