The holiday season comes and goes every year the same way for me. It barrels in, full force and then, as quickly as it came, leaves. Empty boxes, broken cookies, falling gingerbread houses, fragments of leftover holiday meals, happy memories and exhausted children all left in its wake.
To prolong the season just a bit, I like to reflect upon the moments I shared with friends and family. In doing so this year, I realized that my holiday season was filled with times in the kitchen, where I am happiest, creating holiday foods with friends and family.
I made pies and breads for Thanksgiving, cookies for holiday exchanges, edible gifts for teachers, and appetizers for the CWFC holiday appetizer swap — all with friends. Amid the craziness of the season, between school events and holiday parties, I managed to set aside time to show two friends how to fill and crimp empanadas. And with the guidance of my friend Jenn, a master baker, I set aside several hours to ice and decorate spectacular cut out sugar cookies.
Then, of course, there were the innumerable moments in the kitchen preparing holiday dinners– Some humorous, others hectic, but all as part of a team, together making, serving and cleaning.
I received many wonderful gifts of food from neighbors and friends — scones, cookies, apple butter, salsa mix and jalapeno jelly — which infused my holiday with meaning. With each taste, I thought about who made the gift for my family and enjoyed it even more.
My holiday season 2009 will end with a culinary bang, with the usual gourmet multi-course meal I make and then enjoy with my husband. Although I’ll be alone preparing our New Year’s dinner, I’ve already made much of it in advance with a few different friends, from seasons past. I’ll create a heavenly first course with the velvety smooth corn stock I blended over the summer, create pumpkin ravioli with the sugar sweet puree from fall and pull out the puff pastry lobster empanadas from a few weeks ago.
I’ll make a few other courses, hopefully with friends, in the next few days — maybe some curried lamb or shrimp tempura bites. We’ll finish the meal with the usual Jean George-inspired, molten chocolate cakes, which I’ll make ahead of time and then bake when we’re ready.
My final meal for 2009 will combine the best in food, friendship and love from the year. And then, after every last morsel is savored, I’ll have a blank culinary slate to begin my kitchen adventures again in 2010.
May your new year be filled with lots of great food, sensational friends and memorable moments together in the kitchen.