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…]
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.
Holidays in years past have been epic affairs. Thanksgiving practically required a spreadsheet to organize, and Christmas needed Swiss precision as we rushed from this place to that. All that planning and coordinating made it hard to enjoy the holiday as it unfolded.
This year, Brian and I decided to make some changes. Our Thanksgiving featured only the four of us, Brian, me, and our two girls. In typical fashion, we sat down an hour later than we’d wanted to, but it didn’t matter in the least. After dinner, we had pie, put our littlest to bed, while our older daughter got to stay up late to watch It’s a Wonderful Life with us. We had to pause a lot and explain things that don’t come up much in a 7 year-old’s life, like the difference between a building and loan and a bank, World War II, bank runs, the Charleston, and the nature of greed, but still, it was a lovely time. Right after that, our weekend spiraled out of control a little bit with sickness and the like, but nobody had to go to the hospital so we count that as a victory. [Read more…]
A Thanksgiving cocktail should have the dryness of a good aperitif to prime your appetite, pack a little bit of a punch to help you smile politely as your family talks politics, and contain whiskey to remind you of how thankful you are for whiskey. I’ve been wanting to share the Boulevardier since summer, but have waited until its perfect mix of bitter orange and smoky rye was right for the season. That time is right now. [Read more…]
In the beginning, neither Brian nor I had grand ideas for parenthood. Honestly, it was a selfish endeavor for me – I wanted to see if I really could, you know, create another human. I also, somewhat mistakenly, saw pregnancy as a great opportunity to eat a lot of ice cream. Our daughter was an easy baby, especially once we’d made it through those first six weeks, and Brian and I settled in to parenthood rather effortlessly.
And things went along this way, with the usual ups and downs, until last year. That was when we realized that the skills required to nurture a big kid and help them become an upstanding person are pretty different from the ones you need to nurture a baby. It’s been a tough transition, with lots of instances of helping our oldest navigate her relationships with others, resolve conflicts, and right wrongs. These same things happen with littles, but the social web of interactions is so much more immediate. Also, there’s homework. [Read more…]
Last weekend, Brian and I had a few friends over for a Friendsgiving feast. We planned a pared down menu and approached the gathering in a pretty laid back way.
It was a small crowd, so instead of a whole bird, Brian and I opted for a bone-in turkey breast. We’ve roasted up a pretty spectacular breast in years past, but with a warm fall Saturday ahead of us, we decided to smoke this one. Brian and I don’t have a fireplace, so it’s nice to have the grill going all day – we all need a hearth. [Read more…]
Salt dough Christmas ornaments are perfect for me, and likely for many of you, for the simple reason that while I am not an especially crafty person, I am pretty comfortable baking. So a craft that you bake is about as good as a craft is going to get for me. This is our second time making them and they’ve been great for both the craft-challenged and children in our family. [Read more…]
Brooklyn Supper’s focus is on local, seasonal foods, but we’ve never been averse to seasonal foods that come from afar, especially in the winter. As east coasters, we have non-local foods on hand like coffee, chocolate, and lemons. And when it gets cold out, you can be sure we have pounds and pounds of oranges on the counter and a couple containers of dates in the fridge.
Date season peaks in the late fall, and so now is the time to get your hands on some if you haven’t already. Look for a box of delicate Medjool dates, which are almost overwhelmingly sweet. They’re sticky and yielding, with a hint of smokiness and a depth that’s surprising for fruit. After eating several straight out of the box, that intense sweet and smoky flavor got me thinking that dates would be an excellent addition to some boozy ice cream. I was totally right. [Read more…]