It’s no secret that I have an obscene love of food. What most people don’t know however, is how much that love extends to the utensils and dishes with which food is prepared, served and enjoyed. I would wager, in fact, even my own family is in the dark as to how deep my fondness for all things food-service related runs.
I may be rebellious. I may despise conformity. But I am also, in some things, a creature of habit. During the holidays, for instance, I adore tradition. Until just last year I eschewed the idea of any deviation from what I considered a traditional holiday feast. Especially when the feast was to be had on Thanksgiving.
Turkey, mashed potatoes — in my defense I had deferred many years earlier to the advent of smashed potatoes as a time-saving substitute on this count — green beans, corn, biscuits, gravy, squash, cranberry relish, stuffing. It’s unclear whether or not (most likely not!) those who celebrated the real first Thanksgiving would have considered even a portion of my meal traditional, but my opinions have always stood nonetheless.
It’s no secret; I am a sucker for the Holiday Season. And, for me, that season kicks off on the first of October and officially begins with preparations for Halloween. As close to the first of October as possible I pull my inspiration folder from it’s year-round resting spot on the shelves behind the door in my office, wrap myself in my favorite chenille throw, snuggle into the sofa and start dreaming. I dream big, beautiful, impossibly perfect dreams about what sort of straight-from-a-50s-sitcom things our lives will hold in the next three months. There will be homemade costumes and handmade, vintage-y decorations that will set the mood in and around our home. There will be harvest parties with apple bobbing and pumpkin carving. There will be candles and wreaths. There will be family portraits on a brilliant background of firey yellow, orange and red leaves. And there will be food, oh, will there ever be food!
Invariably, only one-tenth of any of these dreams come to fruition — I’m only one woman with only so many hours in a day, after all — but that’s never stopped me from having them. When it comes to the food portion of those dreams I always seem to focus on a few flavors at a time; cranberry and sage during the month of November, for instance, or cinnamon and peppermint in the last few weeks leading up to Christmas. As far as I’m concerned, apples and pumpkin are the stars of the show throughout the month of October though. So lately, they’re what I’ve found myself focusing on again this year. Scrumptious both together and apart their possibilities are endless. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinners and desserts can all be made from these two; my most adored treasures of the season’s bounty.
I have never met a creamy pumpkin soup recipe I couldn’t love; I’ve been known to spend entire Saturdays in the kitchen peeling, coring, cooking and smashing apples into a chunky applesauce that can only be accomplished at home; one blended with just the right amount of local honey and spices. But I can’t make it all. The real autumn lifesavers — the ones that make my season and relieve my stress when I’ve once again aimed far too high in my holiday planning — are drool-worthy handmade and artisan products that infuse the season’s best flavors into my celebrations with little effort on my part. This year my early searches for those products have landed me in the shops of both the Cookie Jar and The Girl & The Fig drooling over Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Apple, Raisin Fig Mostarda. (Pictured above along with Bekah Jennings’ Trick or Treat Banner)
Where have your early fall food searches led you?
It probably comes as no surprise that I tend to follow the work of Michael Pollan. One of his most recent articles in the New York Times, Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, is no exception. I ran across it shortly after it was published and can admit it took me a few days to get through its eight rather comprehensive pages.
However, while I pride myself on being a feminist and do believe gender roles should be banished forevermore, while other people were responding with concern of it’s more sexist undertones (those I see, but think have been taken out of context — another story, for another day) I was busy fixating on another point made in the article.
Due to family stuff and an emergency I didn’t get this post of Diana’s up before Christmas… Please enjoy it anyway – just looking at the delicious pictures should be enough :) -Erika
I love the holiday season as a whole. The hustle and bustle, the cheer and music, the time spent with family and friends in thankfulness and reflection. But Christmas — or any of the mid-winter holidays — can’t necessarily be called my favorite. That title goes to Thanksgiving. So, when it comes to the time committed to make the season bright, mine — though joyful — pales in comparison to many others’ on a strictly quantity basis. Generally speaking I’m just not motivated to spend a lot of time baking or decorating.
This year is the exception to the rule.
If I were pregnant my behavior might be described as nesting. Because I’m not, it’s mostly just crazy.
First came the insatiable urge to have not one, not two, not three… but six Christmas trees this year. (For the record I could only convince my family — as well as my morals and pocketbook — that two were really necessary.) Next it was the desire to construct myriad wreaths out of fresh pine boughs, string thousands of cranberries and popped popcorn kernels on thread, make vintage styled egg ornaments out of duck eggs, and then, finally, set in the need — yes, need — to bake! Bake, bake, and bake some more!
Cookies and cakes and cake pops and pies. Brownies and gingerbread and candies, oh my!
Except, if I’m truly honest with myself — and as a rule I try to be — I haven’t the time to bake all the things on my list. Or even half the things on my list. Though, you can be assured, it didn’t stop me from making it. Which means prioritization has been in order — a lot of it, and it’s been tough.
I can’t justify not baking the sugar cookie recipe that’s been passed down through our family for generations — the one that comes out moist, thick and cakey, just the way I like it. But perhaps the truffles and specialty cookies could be left to someone else — someone like Aunt Ida, Lillie Belle Farms and Laura of Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food; all Foodzie shop owners who sell the Pomegranate Cookies, Blue Cheese Truffles and Gingerbread Bites pictured, respectively.
Are you baking this holiday season? Share your recipes in the comments! Are you buying this season? What sweets are you ordering in?