Share this post

January is a time to slow down, pull inward and treat yourself

Dear Jess,
Now that the new year has begun, I better make good on my promise to answer the letter I received from you. I was really happy to find it in my mailbox. A handwritten letter these days is rare, but I really like to hold the note paper in my hand and through the handwriting, I feel a little bit closer to the writer.

Your letter brings news that you are adjusting to new surroundings and friends. I am happy that you are getting your time away from this place. Maybe you will come to see Goshen with new eyes.

Here, we are in the middle of an Arctic blast. We just drove back from Ox Bow park and the visibility was very low. Looking through the rear view mirror, the road behind me looked like a scene from a mountain village in Switzerland: tall pine trees enveloped in swirling snow, a curvy narrow strip of road going straight into whiteness, dusk falling fast over it all.

Our walk there was crazy; all parts covered to fight off the -17 degree windchill, we ran to keep up with our frisky dog. Meanwhile, small snowflakes pushed by a bitter cold wind embedded themselves in every crevice of our clothes.

Now back in the warmth of our house, with its woodstove glowing, the world seems very quiet out there. The puzzle we started several days ago is calling. Our friend Joanna brings us one every year when she comes for Christmas dinner.

This one I think you would like, if you are into this sort of thing. It’s a poster from the French Impressionist era, drawn in pastels, showing a variety of people on a Paris street. I love the style and how each person comes through in their unadulterated humanity.

I find that January is a good time to slow down and pull inward. We are reviewing house projects to be started this year and, at the same time, cleaning house from all the Christmas goings-on.

I also use this month to find time to do absolutely nothing. Dreaming, yes; hard work, no. After hosting bakery and family gatherings, I fully enjoy life at its slower pace. I also pore over recipes, finding some new twists on old standbys or trying something I’ve never made before.

Right now, in the middle of winter, in Goshen, this seems like a pretty good place to be settled. Most everything I need is within my reach, be it a good book to read from the bookstore, fresh ginger for a Thai curry from Maple City Market, some chocolate from The Nut Shoppe to curb my cravings or salt for our icy sidewalk from John Hall’s hardware store.

Tonight, we get our Mug Club mugs by Fred Driver at Constant Spring when we go for our weekly ritual. All in all, I might be slightly biased but this town might just be calling your name. Because, remember, home is where the heart is.

I hope that you have a happy new year in your part of the country. Keep your eyes and ears open but especially your heart. Learn as much as you can. And I hope to see you soon back here in Goshen.

Peace and love to you,

P.S. Here is a recipe you might want to make on a cold night. It is luxurious and delicious.

Chocolate Lava Cakes


  • ¾ cups butter
  • 8 oz. high quality dark chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 eggs yolks
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. flour


  1. Grease six 1-cup custard cups. Place them in a large baking dish; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, mix chocolate chips and butter. Melt over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, eggs yolks, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until thick. Slowly fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture along with flour. Divide into each prepared cup.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes or until cake edges feel firm. Cool on rack for a few minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen each cake, then invert onto a dessert plate. Serve immediately, with whipped cream.

For more recipes and stories from Rachel Shenk, sign up for the La Bonne Vie email newsletter.

Type and hit enter