Before I’m mired in Thanksgiving shopping and to-do lists, I’m taking the time to pause. Thanksgiving at its best is about gratitude and calls for a little reflection. This year, even more than most, I have much to be grateful for. My work on the blog and elsewhere has been going swimmingly, Brian has a new job he loves, and the girls are healthy and happy. There are a few struggles on the horizon for those I love most, but optimism still rules the day. With all this in mind, I’m planning to prioritize gratitude on Thanksgiving by exchanging the stress of an epic feast for something smaller, simpler, and more considered. I’m trading perfection (which I’ve never been great at anyway) for presence. [Read more…]
Sometimes (most of the time), when I write a to-do list, I include something I’ve already done or at least something very easy. Likewise, I include myself in any list of things I need to bring somewhere: “Keys, me, shoes, sweater, bag.” It’s a built-in guarantee of productivity or organization.
In the madness of Thanksgiving prep, this fresh cranberry relish is my to-do list guarantee. It’s the one Thanksgiving dish that can be completed and crossed off the list in minutes flat. If it didn’t have amazing flavor, I’d probably still keep it on the menu. But I’ve never needed to make that call, because it is delicious.
This recipe began on a cold, rainy morning. A scratchy old records and black coffee kind of day. As the rain fell, things inside were cozy and fragrant with the scent of roasting citrus. The rich jewel tones on the plate vibrated against gray skies and the golds and russets of the water-soaked landscape.
I offer a simple premise: the holidays are a heavy time filled with chances to fail, or feel lonely, overwhelmed, or inadequate. When we strive for perfection, we can only lose. After barely making it through Halloween – going through all the motions of making costumes, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating – hoping all the while the girls didn’t notice our hearts weren’t in it, Brian and I realized we need to be vigilant for the upcoming holidays. Starting now, we’re protecting ourselves from anything but the most pressing obligations, the pressure of excess, and all the other things that take us away from the actual moments spent with those we love. You should too. [Read more…]
I have a list of beloved recipes for fall, the holidays, and beyond, and pretty much stick to them, especially when things get busy. Also, I don’t like change. Even so, sometimes an idea or book comes along that changes my ways and pushes me to re-imagine even my very favorite things. Samantha Seneviratne‘s The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking is just that kind of thing. In it, Sam moves beautifully between engaging family stories and insights into baking, spices, and the history of how such far flung ingredients made their way into our kitchens. It’s also overflowing with perfect recipes. Just enough sugar to be delicious and with an admirable restraint – rather than the typical cinnamon/clove/nutmeg/ground ginger wall of flavor, Sam achieves culinary splendor by thoughtfully highlighting just a few ingredients in each dish. Think of it as the anti-pumpkin pie spice. [Read more…]
It’s Christmas Eve. As I sit here, sipping a cup of coffee in preparation for my final shopping trip (um, it turns out I probably shouldn’t have procrastinated quite so much), I’m planning the lunch we’re hosting later today. On the menu, a selection of all the most festive libations from eggnog to cider to Prosecco to hot chocolate (peppermint schnapps included), Edwards country ham, buttermilk biscuits, and a green salad. Please try not to be concerned that I actually just listed four cocktails and only three edibles. Moderation, we’re into it.
I hope you’ve landed wherever you’re going this holiday. May your mug be full of something warming and wonderful, and may all the best, most beautiful things about the season shine through. [Read more…]
Short and sweet weekend links. Good food, plus other stuff. [Read more…]
This post is sponsored by DeKuyper. All opinions expressed are my own, and do not reflect the opinions or positions of DeKuyper. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Brooklyn Supper possible!
“Are you ready for Christmas?” seems to have become the standard holiday greeting, as though kindly store clerks and my fellow moms are wondering if I’ve prepared for the big meeting or finished my taxes. Personally, I miss the days of more joyful holiday wishes. Besides, organization has never been my strong suit; so being reminded of all the work I still need to do cuts deeply.
I take comfort in the fact that my family’s done all the most important things like watch Christmas movies with the kids and bake cookies. The tree we cut down ourselves stands twinkling in the living room. We’ve seen family and gone to recitals. I’ll get to the shopping, eventually. I hope. [Read more…]
Elizabeth and I spend hours each December discussing which version of A Christmas Carol is best (This year I’m kind of leaning toward the Muppets one?). It’s a tough choice because they all have their moments. But the 1951 version is in the running for me every year because of the Cratchit family’s reaction to the goose Bob’s bought –– the sheer joy of a family in tough times savoring a simple pleasure gets me misty every time. I’ve always wanted to get in on some of that Christmas goose joy. But the Christmas goose is a weird thing.
Last Saturday, we picked up our Christmas tree. Brian wanted to drive to the nice in-town place where we got a tree last year, but heading out to the country to chop down our own was very high on my things-to-do-now-that-we-don’t-live-Brooklyn wish list, and because he could see I had my heart set on it, we drove south to a tree farm. As we crossed the county line south of town, I realized that the “just over the river” place I’d picked was actually 30 miles past the river – over winding backcountry roads of varying degrees of pavedness through the rain-soaked Virginia hills and forests shrouded in fog. We arrived, were given instructions by a kind older man with a very specific central Virginia accent that is best described as Southern meets Canadian. We set out to find our tree and after some slogging through wet fields selected a Norway spruce. Instead of chopping, Brian sawed it down with a dull hacksaw. After we carted it back, paid, and tied it to the car, we happily made our way home, stopping at our favorite rural pizza place (our favorite pizza in Virginia!) on the way back.
In the backdrop of all this merriment, there are a few stressors. [Read more…]