a time when holidays and the work that went with them were fun. I can’t pinpoint when it stopped, but it has. I cook. I used to cook more frequently, more elaborately, and for more people than I do now. I used to love to cook, challenge myself with new ingredients and recipes, but now, not so much. I still enjoy it sometimes, still like to try new recipes, but the holidays? Every year I try to cut back a dish or two and the prep involved, but the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be. The dicing, sauteing, braising and sifting that used to give me a thrill is now just work. The hunt for the perfect ingredients necessitating hitting six grocery stores isn’t the treasure hunt it once was.
I could blame the kids and Husband, “I spoiled them.” It’s true, they’re used to good food, they’re used to fresh ingredients and most everything cooked from scratch. But the truth is their finicky palates aren’t a mystery, I’m the same way. If it’s my holiday too, which it is, and if I’m doing the work, which I am, then I want to enjoy the meal(s). I couldn’t possibly cook any fewer items than I’m planning for the dinners if I don’t want anyone to be hungry.
Christmas Eve Dinner: Baked Ziti (making the sauce right now), Horseradish Crusted Roast Beef, Spinach, Pear, and Parmesan Salad, Pumpkin Torte for dessert.
Christmas Brunch: Vanilla Maple French Toast, Cheesy Baked Grits, Asst breakfast meats, fake and real.
Christmas Dinner: Ham, Cauliflower roasted with Olives, Capers, and Pignolis, Some kind of mashed potatoes, not sure which kind, and a Rice Pudding Pear Tart.
It took until late this morning for me to decide what I’m going to cook this year. Man Child went with me to one grocery store, Nerd Child went with me to another, and I sent Man Child without me to the third. Unfortunately, he just texted to tell me they have no hams, spiral sliced or not. Yes, it’s true! I stopped making the fresh ham from scratch a few years ago, and buy the ones that are precooked, just need to be heated. Wrestling with that big leg… the soaking, the skinning, the crying, I gave up.
I used to make dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies, at least 7 different types each year, in the week leading up to Christmas.
They were math, language arts, history, and science lessons for the kids. They were an art, a pleasure, an excellent gift for people when you want to gift something personal and/or inexpensive. I stopped doing that when we moved into this apartment, the kitchen is impossibly small. This didn’t include the 2 or 3 cakes and/or pies I would make. Two years ago, Man Child asked for my cookie recipes so he could make them with his friends at his boarding school. Sure. It was actually a surprise for me, he came home with the cookies, having used the kitchen of one of his teachers. Absolutely one of the top 5 gifts I’ve ever received. –Speaking of fabulous gifts, one of my friends sent me a great paring knife! A completely unexpected pleasure–both the knife and realizing he reads Mrs Fringe.
Who does the cooking for your holiday celebrations? Are you a fellow lunatic who won’t eat bottled salad dressing?
We spend Christmas Day at home now, I prep brunch the night before, after the stuff from Christmas Eve dinner is cleaned up, in between wrapping gifts and searching for the tripod to set up the video camera. It makes for a nice Christmas morning, I wake up and make coffee, shove the casserole dishes in the oven, and brunch cooks while we have fun opening presents, taking bad pictures, and knocking over the tripod.
So, what gives? I still love the idea of Christmas, the magic reflected on Flower Child’s face when she comes into the living room, watching the kids open their gifts, seeing the pleasure on Husband’s face as he watches them, seeing the excitement on their faces when he and I unwrap our own presents, the silliness of eating chocolate at 7 in the morning. Brunch is an open invitation and informal, I always make a lot so we usually have at least a couple of friends or relatives stop by, feels good.
Maybe I’m just a cranky old lady, and need to start making reservations for dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.