happy hanukkah/solstice/christmas/kwanzaa/new years

Phew!

Usually this time of year I start baking like a fiend Thanksgiving weekend and don’t stop until the weekend before Christmas.  All peoples around me would receive beautifully packaged bags of treats.  This year, I’ve been painting (bedroom walls) every weekend and surviving a never-ending work acquisition during the weekdays, so the baking extravaganza has not been happening.  I feel off-kilter.

However, I have to eat so I have been cooking a little.  We made latkes for the first night of Hanukkah, and might squeeze in one more meal of latkes before the end (tonight).

Christmas Eve morning I decided to do a baked pumpkin steel cut oatmeal –  I’d made it once before and it had been good.  This time it was essentially Christmas gruel.  Blech.  Yummily, lunch was the hors d’oeuvres meal that I’d planned for dinner.  With a bottle of wine.  My OH had to take a nap after that.  Dinner was with dear friends on Warren Street.  He wanted to know why I hadn’t covered his demented displays in this blog.  His wife and I pointed out that I’m only interested in food.  He pointed out the inflatable turkey that he’d used earlier this season.  Touche’.  I’ll have to work on being more observant.

I have no real traditions for Christmas meals, other than hors d’oeuvres for Christmas Eve dinner.  My mother has always made a Swedish tea ring but I’ve never been drawn to make it my tradition.  I just like it when Mom makes breakfast.  So this year I took on someone else’s tradition and their Holiday Breakfast Wreath.  I did not have the dried cranberries called for in the recipe, so I chopped up dried prunes and soaked them in brandy before adding to the filling.  Quite delicious, I must say.

just before glazing

And it opens up the whole new world of yeast baked goods.  As much as I bake, I never make anything using yeast as I’ve never understood the whole rising and kneading process.  This time it worked.  I’m very excited.

Mid-day, we wanted to get out of the house to walk/hike off past meals (and prepare for the next) so we headed out to Bash Bish Falls.  What a lovely place.  I don’t know why it took so many years to get there.  Definitely must return in the summer.

I then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening preparing dinner, which was Chef Peter Berley’s Lasagna of Fall Vegetables, Sage Bechamel, and Gruyere.  If you decide to tackle this delicious meal, give yourself a couple of hours and some staff.  And don’t leave the bechamel for last since you need some steeping time.  There’s a lot of prep work, as there often is when you prepare everything from scratch.  But the results are worth it.  My photos do not do the dish justice, but click on the link above for a tasty image.

What’s next?  I might start on my Christmas cookies (no time like the present, right?) – except that at the moment I’m not hungry.  This is not a normal sensation.  O dear.

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