The holiday season has passed by once again and I am amazed at how quickly it went. The best part of the season is not the gifts, the shopping, or the craziness. It's the extra time that is spent with family and friends. Even though I try to make time for it throughout the year, the days on the calendar between Halloween and New Year just seem a little more special. When we have the opportunity to spend one of our most valued commodities, time, with those we love, it makes the world a better place. At the center of most of these gatherings is food. Food brings us together and unites us in a way that rivals all others. Be it sweet or savory, large or small, the act of partaking in eating together breaks down barriers, evens the playing field, and allows everyone to be at peace, if only for a little while. This is what drives me. This is what makes me yearn for November 1. This is also what makes me a little sad on January 2. The lights and decorations get put away for another year; the routine of work and life come back into focus; the "holiday spirit" is tucked neatly into a drawer or closet or other safe haven to be forgotten until it is time again to take it out for display.
Perhaps this is why I love to have people over throughout the year. Barbeques, pot lucks, cookie swaps, or girls night--I look forward to all of these celebrations and more with the same anticipation of a child waiting for Santa to visit. I shop and prepare, hoping beyond hope that every recipe--even the tried and true--come out just perfect; waiting for the best gift of all...the happy sounds of joy at every taste. I could go without a single store bought gift if I am surrounded by the people I love and get to hear their murmors of happiness. This for me is the ultimate moment of the holiday season...and how I like to celebrate the holidays all year long.
As part of the celebratory festivities, I was fortutate enought to have the time to make rich dark chocolate fudge, spiced walnuts, light and tender potato gnocchi, beef braised in beer and onions, and cardamom bread in two varieties. While the recipe for the beef can be found in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I will post the others within the next few days. My heart and home has been filled with those I hold most dear, so my computer has been a distant memory. Like the decorations and the songs, those days must be put away for a spell and life must return to "normal".
I hope you had a wonderful end to 2009, filled with memories of loved ones brought close.