The leaves are raked and the gardens are put to bed but not yet covered with snow. Some local apples, beets, squash, celeriac, carrots and potatoes remain at the few local farm stands that are still open. Time to scour the winter garden and woods for Andromeda, holly, rose hips, pine cones and evergreens for holiday decorations and think about the holiday menu.
This year featured some of the old favorites: a reprise (from Thanksgiving) of Roasted Almonds, then Hot Potato Salad and Strawberry Shortcake for Christmas Eve, Cranberry Stollen and Cranberry Bread for Christmas morning and Cranberry Pudding for Christmas Dinner.
Remembering comments and preferences from last Christmas, there was a shake up in the cookie department. When I could not get the requisite dried pineapple for Fruit Cake, I decided that while this might have been one of my Dad's favorites, recently this has not been as popular as other offerings. So instead of Fruit Cake, I used one of my grandmother's recipes and made Date Nut Bars. The Molasses Cookies/Gingersnaps which were not best-sellers last Christmas either, were replaced by Spicy Gingerbread. Christopher's favorite Nut Puffs and Mexican Chocolate Meringues rounded out the cookie plate, served with clementines.
Then as the house empties out (still no snow), I use the last of the holiday ham to make a double batch of Pea Soup. I follow the recipe, sort of, taking the liberty to tidy the veggie drawer and throw in all of the carrot and celery sticks left over from the hummus dip, the sliced fennel left over from salads, the minced parsley, scallions.....
For Christmas we gave Christopher a cast iron wok to try in lieu of his teflon coated wok. After Christmas, Chris and I seasoned it and totally smoked the kitchen in the process. A Tale of Two Woks as well as recipes for Date Nut Bars and Spicy Ginger Bread will be among my first posts of 2012. Happy New Year!