The Holidays

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I am sitting in my mother’s kitchen this weekend. And it has been a wonderful holiday.  I’m always a little sad to see it end and real life kick back in.

But a part of me is also a little relieved and ready for the routine to come back.  My dad died of a brain aneurysm 13 years ago and, even though time has passed, it is always a little sad around the holidays.  My dad loved Santa Claus and Christmas.  He loved the holidays and the food. I make some of his recipes this time of year.  He was never very good at writing them down.  “Put in a pinch of this.  Enough of that.”  Not real big on the ‘cooking as science’ thing.  At this time of year, we tell more stories from my siblings and my childhoods.  I think about him more at the holidays and I smile, but it is also a little sad. As anyone who has lost a family member knows, every holiday, every big event in life, is now a mixture: joy mostly, but a little sad.

My sister, Kelsey, recently started her own non-profit effort, Apricity,  to benefit brain aneurysm research and survivors.  She has t-shirts, posters, and other cool products made by brain aneurysm survivors for you to buy.  The proceeds go to brain aneurysm research and to the survivors who created the artwork. It’s pretty cool and she is very inspiring to me.  She is an Americorps volunteer applying and interviewing for grad school and yet she still has the time, compassion, and guts to jump into running her own non-profit to honor our father and benefit others who suffer from this disease. Check it out…and donate!

Whether you are missing someone or not this holiday season, I hope you have a new year full of peace and joy.

See you next year.

Holiday Pot Roast

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Can you believe it is only six more sleeps till Christmas?  Six!  I have presents wrapped.  And cookies baked.  And the oil changed in the car for driving all over the country visiting family.  My in-law’s Chanukah party is tonight and I am happy to report I was successful in making Smitten Kitchen’s Babka.  And it was delicious.  And yes I will make it again with all of my helpful changes and snarky advice for y’all.

My family re-does the traditional Thanksgiving meal every year for Christmas with a few minor changes (roasted potatoes over mashed, macaroni and cheese over asparagus casserole, more Christmas cookies to go with the pumpkin pie, and ever since I went to law school in New Orleans, red beans and rice make an appearance).  Plus we usually have a “rogue” addition.  Some years it is bar-b-qued ribs but often my mom makes a pot roast at Christmas.

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Hot Chocolate Mix

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I do a lot of complicated cooking and baking this time of year.  This weekend alone I am trying out Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Babka for two Chanukah parties coming up and the Chocolate Slides for my family’s Christmas party.

So it is really nice to find a recipe like this one.  Simple, delicious, and people will think you worked for hours on it.  That is if you want to share.  Plus it is nice finally to use up the marshmallows from last summer’s s’mores.

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Mini Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

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I saw a meme last year as Fall was turning into Winter to the effect of “You have had your day Pumpkin but soon Peppermint will rule the land!”  While I pretty much avoided the pumpkin spice craze this year I am embracing the peppermint.  Wholeheartedly!

Plus I love mini-cupcakes.  They are perfect to share with people and the perfect size to cram the whole thing in your mouth in one bite!  Not that any respectable adult person would do that.

An adult person would talk about the unexpected textures between moist chocolate cake, creamy icing, and crunch candy cane pieces.  But I won’t blame you if you just eat 4 or 5 after decorating the house in a holiday daze.

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