On the Friday before our big snow storm the stores, of course, were mobbed. I would bet the average family could ride out a snow storm just fine on what they have in their cupboards and pantry and refrigerator (I know we could), but there's something in us that drives us all to the stores before an impending weather event, for fear we may never, ever make it to the stores again and, god forbid, we're left without a loaf of bread or a box of oatmeal. I confess I went to the store on Thursday. We actually needed soy milk, but while I was there I thought about the possibility of snow, and thought about those winter weather "must-haves"--the things I knew I'd wish we'd had if we did end up housebound. I was looking forward to the chance to do some baking and cooking, and I didn't want to be caught without the right ingredients. I think our mad dashes to the store the night before a storm have less to do with necessity, and more to do with the desire to have on hand the things that make us feel warm, and safe, and cozy, inside and out--things we could do without, but don't want to. Here's my list of MY top ten winter weather "must-haves"--food I crave on a snowy weekend, food that is just perfect for a winter meal, and pantry necessities for a wintry housebound weekend. 1. Hot chocolate. We like to make our own from scratch and by far, the recipe I love, is this one--so easy, but the perfect-tasting hot cocoa every time. 2. Lentil soup. I posted my recipe on this site last year, but here it is again. I made a big pot of it on Saturday, and served it with must-have item #3, biscuits. 3. Homemade biscuits. Or bread, too. On Friday I rode the elevator with a colleague who was rubbing his hands in glee at the thought of being trapped at home this weekend. "I can make bread all weekend!" He told me, and I imagine he did. But I made biscuits--these cream biscuits from Smitten Kitchen. I've made these several times since discovering the recipe. They're easy, and soft and marvelously melty in your mouth. 4. Pancakes. You just can't wake up on a snowy morning without pancakes. I didn't make mine from scratch, though, because I didn't have buttermilk in the fridge. 5. Pancake fixings. Luckily, I had the foresight to buy a jug of maple syrup, and a package of vegetarian sausages, too. Big hearty breakfasts are perfect to warm you up after your kids rush out into the snow in just their pajamas and slippers. 6. Lots of coffee. Coffee tastes better on a snowy morning, somehow--I don't know why. But I do know that while I could last without a loaf of bread over a winter weekend, the thought of running out of coffee would send me to the store the night before a storm. 7. Condensed milk. Luckily I had a can in my baking cabinet. A friend came over on Sunday and told me about a snow cream recipe she'd tried. I'm not a huge Paula Deen fan, but I tried her recipe and it was delicious--even more so with chocolate syrup squirted over the top. I will always make sure I have a can of condensed milk handy from now on. Of course I was so busy buying my pantry essentials for my winter must-haves that I forgot practical necessities like...toilet paper, batteries and dish detergent--which is why Scott found himself in a long line at Wal-mart on Friday night, trying to put together an altogether different list of winter weather must-haves. What are your winter weather must-haves? The things you'd stock up on before a snowy weekend at home?