The winter holidays obviously can cause a whole range of emotions in people - they are weighed down with memories of past Christmases, especially if people or things are now gone. Also, places that mean one thing on other days of the year can have other connotations on Christmas. They are weighed down with expectations, pressures, and comparisons. The sentence "But its Christmas!" seems so much of a stronger thing to say than "But it is President's Day!" It seems a bit like weddings - what other thing has such strong expectations attached to it because it happens to be a certain day on the calender?

That being said, most other Christmas breaks I have had I have traveled farther than this year. The college where I work does a campus shut down during this week to save money with energy costs. It is the sort of thing where you don't want to know what day it is, because you don't want to know how fast it is going by (like our honeymoon). It makes me think of days on end of my cousins coming over, watching Clue the movie, and going to the theatre to see Disney's Aladdin. It makes me think of my cousin breaking my leg on a plastic snowboard on a small hill while I sledded down next to him, and my grandparents coming to say hi to me in the hospital one their way home. Between the excitement of Christmas gone, and the excitement of a new year yet to come, it feels like a lost time - a time where there is nothing in the world wrong with sleeping until well past noon, eating French toast for breakfast, nibbling at fruitcake while you do the dishes, and accomplishing next to nothing. The only difference between now and then for me is having new books to read as opposed to new toys to play with, but the feeling all remains the same. Yay for the people at the Comptroller's office who think it is a good idea to save money with energy costs! I will say though I have noticed how much less candy changes hands with grown-up Christmases. That may need to be rectified.

So what exactly have we been up to you may ask?

  • We spent Christmas in Brooklyn and had Christmas Eve dinner at Queen. The fresh mozzarella alone is reason to go. The classic Italian dishes like eggplant parm and lasagna are amazing, and the seasonal specials are often really inventive and always super fresh. There is an adorable old man who is the manager there who will remember you even if you leave the country for a whole summer or move away for years.
  • The day after Christmas we ate at Bar Tabac on Smith Street. I've always loved this place. Most of the waitresses used to all be French. The bread can be a bit hard, but the sandwiches are all great, the half roasted chicken for lunch is amazing, the coffee rocks, and the vibe is great.
  • I got some great presents. You may remember how we went all the way down to NYC last week to meet Amanda Hesser, just to find the event was postponed. Well, I had things to do at work the day it was postponed to, but my Mother-In-Law and Sister-In-Law were able to go to the event, and got me a signed copy of the new Food52 cookbook, so that was great! My husband got me the Silver Palate cookbook, since we had just made something originally from there that was featured in the Cook's Illustrated magazine recently (Chicken Mirabella). We also got a great pot rack made by J.K. Adams (a Vermont company), from Different Drummer's Kitchen. I have really wanted a pot rack after I saw pictures of Julia Child's kitchen, and after watching too much Beverly Hills 90210 (the Walsh's had one as proof of the Mid-western wholesomeness).

I got some other great presents.  My parents came through with signing me up for a baking class at King Arthur Flour in VT. I am taking the pizza baking one in January. Yay! Also quite a bit of other books including Rules of Civility, which I have already finished and really enjoyed, and Mindy Kaling's book, which feels like just one long great conversation with your most hilarious friend. 

  • The fruitcake I made ten weeks ago turns out to be the best fruitcake I have ever had.  I wasn't sure if it would be good or not, and it is great - who knew something that sat there since October would turn out delicious? 

  • I made a piece of challah that is bigger than a turkey. I am not joking you. The recipe is from the New York Times Essential Cookbook. The recipe says things like "One huge loaf", and "big as a skateboard", and that was not an exaggeration. We have about 5 huge ziplock bags filled with bread it made so much. We had some for dinner last night and french toast this morning and barely made any progress on it. On the up side - it smells amazing to make and is totally delicious. I just wonder, unless you have 10 kids why would you make this again? Here are some pictures.

 (takes up a cooling rack that can normally hold about a dozen cookies)

And as French toast:


  1. Nice rundown there on what you got up to over the festive period.

    Let us know how your New Year goes.



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