Christmas dinner in Georgia, accompanied by a light snowfall outside the window.  For mama, brother, and me.

Clockwise, starting with the big yellow rectangle on the left: macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, collards, potatoes and carrots, pot roast, corn, and baked sweet potatoes.  That's a lot of good eatin' for just three people.  'Twas a pity that Tiny Tim wasn't around to join the fun.

Mom prepared the pot roast, which was cooked in her trusty Crock-Pot along with these here root vegetables.

I did the collards.  Not exactly true to the Southern tradition, as they were not simmered with a ham hock, but they came out tasty nonetheless with vegetable stock and chopped onions. 

The macaroni and cheese was just...baked heart attack, basically.  But Christmas ain't Christmas without a little baked heart attack.

Paula Deen's Cheesy Mac

Ditto for the green bean casserole.  But hey, at least there were real vegetables hidden deep in all that butter.

Paula Deen's Green Bean Casserole

It all made for quite a lovely table.  Notice that there are no place settings; we decided to go buffet style.

And of course it was all set off by my mother's lovely centerpiece, featuring pine, eucalyptus, and magnolia leaves from her own yard.  The candy canes added a festive bit of whimsy!

Merry Christmas to all.



If anyone has been out a-caroling yet this season, it's likely you have encountered the curious "figgy pudding" line in "We Wish You A Merry Christmas".  I cannot tell you how many times I've sung that little phrase while simultaneously wondering:

What the H-E-doublecandycanes is a figgy pudding?

So this year I did some research.  Found this article.  From here on out we can all hopefully sing a little easier.

NPR, All Things Considered: Now, You Can Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

Now...howz about that "cup of good cheer"?



Ladies and gentlemen...let the Christmas cookie season begin.  What, I ask you, is more merry than a Christmas cookie?

Not snowflakes.

Not Bing Crosby.

And definitely not the mechanical Rudolph nodding in your neighbor's yard.

There's just nothing that's not fun about a Christmas cookie.  Santa-shaped, thumbprinted, or rolled and smushed with a fork, cookies are the shining stars of holiday foods.  Oh of course they're delicious, that goes without saying; but the reason we love Christmas cookies, deep down, is because of the memories they draw up in our minds every December.  For example, I was fortunate enough to grow up with a grandmother who baked approximately one million Christmas cookies during my childhood.  She would put them in tins and lay them out on the dessert table for all to graze on, and let's just say that no one ever really touched the fruitcake with those things around...Christmas just wasn't Christmas without them.  Gramma Betts, as we called her (short for Betsy, short for Elizabeth), took so much pride in making them for her family every year, and the special care she took in carrying on her traditions was certainly not lost on me.  I remember her cookies every year, and I like to think that now I can carry on her tradition.  Can love be expressed through food?  Without question. 

So, like I said, there is nothing more merry than a Christmas cookie.

And let's pause for a minute to consider the astounding number of varieties:  sugar cookies, peanut butter kiss cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies!  Gingerbread!  Shortbread!  Tassies, teacakes, sandies, snickerdoodles!  And, of course, macaroons...how it is a sin to forget the macaroons.

I made my first batch of the year tonight, and chose macaroons to kick off the season.  I do recommend running--not walking--to the nearest home kitchen and doing yourself a favor by whipping these up as soon as humanly possible.  Cheers.


2 2/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 egg whites
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces dark baking chocolate

Mix together coconut, sugar, and flour in a large bowl.  The result will look like a tiny winter wonderland!  Who wants to ski?

Then mix in the egg whites.  I have yet to master the technique of separating the whites from the yolks.

Then you add in the vanilla extract, chopped pecans, and orange zest,

and this is what you get.

Scoop them with a spoon onto a cookie sheet, and bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Make sure you use the right kind of wax paper when lining your pans, however...I definitely used the wrong kind and had a TIME trying to get the little buggers unstuck after cooling.

And now to the fun part!  Put the chocolate squares into a ziplock bag and melt them in the microwave until they're just squishy enough to become liquid, about one minute.  Snip a hole in the corner of the bag and pipe on the chocolate to your liking.  And if "to your liking" means piping half of it directly into your mouth, that's ok too.  It's Christmas for crying out loud.

Gosh they're pretty.  Here's to you, Gramma Betts.



Goodness gracious!  Apparently the holidays just snuck right up on me and I haven't written a thing in almost three weeks.  But that doesn't mean I haven't been busy in the kitchen!

This is the time of year when all we really think about is food.  Well, that and presents.  And perhaps goodwill toward man or something of that nature...hopefully, anyway, heh...but let's face it:  a good chunk of the holiday season is just about good eats.  Your neighbors come rap-tap-tapping on your front door with plates of shortbread, your coworkers lay out boxes of chocolate to share before the workday begins.  And at dinner parties, when your guests bring out the big guns--say, Grandma's classic mac and cheese recipe from the '60s or Uncle Herb's prizewinning gutsticking chili--you know that Kris Kringle must certainly be around the corner.  It's the only time of year when people stop counting calories and stop eating lettuce and just say to hell with it.  Gimme butter.  Gimme sugar.  Gimme seconds.

In fact, I was so busy cooking food and enjoying it with my friends on Thanksgiving, that I managed to take only a few blurry photos of the mess after it had been ravaged by the crowd...so I won't bother posting those.  But luckily, we all know that Christmas dinner is really just a repeat of Thanksgiving dinner with some Christmas tree cookies thrown in at the end.  So I'll be sure to document every moment come December 25th...from teaspoon to table.

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