Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"home is wherever I'm with you"

the food: post-holiday hibernation

We had a fantastic and eventful few days away from Austin filled with good food and better family. I received an early Christmas present before we left when my x-ray results came back and I learned my foot isn’t broken. Other than that, we got and gave the same thing…food! I spent the morning of our trip making homemade granola, soup mixes, and brownies.* 

 I'll never go back to traditional rushing around stores on the days proceeding Christmas. Cooking for family left me with a different feeling. Instead of worrying about money and stressing about finding the perfect book/trinket/snuggie, I was able to do something I enjoyed and feed people I care about. Challenges I encountered were things I like to ponder anyway. "What can I make that won't add to the mountain of sweets people usually get?...What will last for a while and look pretty on the shelf?...Will this really taste good and will people eat it?" The biggest obstacle was finding red lentils for a curried lentil soup mix.  Oh shoot...two Central Market trips in one day. That is usually the sign of a very good day in my house!

Our house is brimming with holiday goodies to inspire and make me hungry…everything from vintage garlic cookbooks to homemade Kahlua (from the husband’s grandma!) We're also now the proud subscribers to a bi-monthly microbrew club, meaning in a month there will be beer dropped off on our porch. It truly is a wonderful life. Also, I got some encouragement in the form of a gift card to Natural Gardener and a shiny new writing tool. And more importantly, I was met with enthusiastic support when I talked with family about my blossoming interest in food and writing.  

For the first time in my life (that I can remember, at least) I experienced a white Christmas, something so incredibly rare in Texas. Yes, the snow led to a six hour traffic jam with everyone else in west Fort Worth on Christmas Eve. There was scary driving, a little panic, and tears. But there was also a ton of support from my amazingly calm husband/co-pilot and the lesson of driving on ice. We connected with everyone out there (thankfully, not literally) because we were all in the same boat. Some handled it better than others. But we made it through, and the conditions that were treacherous at night led to a beautiful Christmas day with playful kitties and walks in the glittering snow.

Our hosts (my in-laws) are some of the most amazing cooks I know, and boy did we eat. It is truly inspiring to watch them effortlessly work together in the kitchen, creating beautiful and interesting food...chicken fried eggplant, spinach manicotti, tortellini with cilantro pesto, baklava whipped up just because there was leftover phyllo in the freezer. The true gift, though, was the time spent around the table. Our dinners were an event, stretching out over hours with plenty of courses, free-flowing wine and easy conversation. There was no skimping this holiday.

I hope everyone’s holiday was as merry and bright. 


*Brownie recipe coming shortly. Just wait for this one, because it will change your life.

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