Susan Sarah here, offering in goodly Word Wench tradition (at least this month) some further thoughts on holiday-themed food. I’ll offer, too, a signed copy of my December Avon release, TO WED A HIGHLAND BRIDE, to be awarded to someone whose name will be picked at random from our blog commenters.
James MacCarran, Viscount Struan, is a practical, scholarly sort who is not ready to take a bride, despite family pressures…but when a stormy night in the Highlands brings an unexpected encounter with beautiful, fey Elspeth MacArthur, James is suddenly rethinking his stand on marriage…and though he doubts that the local Highland legends have any truth to them, he realizes that the mysterious Elspeth is more than a weaver’s granddaughter. But she will not reveal all her secrets to him–well, not just yet….
"Exquisitely woven of the fairy lore told in Celtic song and legend … a masterful romance." — Barbara Samuel in BookPage
My sister Wenches have come up with some great recipes and thoughts on holiday food traditions, and I have to confess, at this juncture, that cooking is just not one of my strong points. I come from a family of good cooks and great recipes (my uncle has a very successful restaurant based in part on family recipes) — and I’m a pretty good cook when I have to be … but for the most part I’m not much of a foodie, and that does make a difference. I’m not compelled or fascinated by cooking and I’m known to avoid it. But I do bake at Christmas time, and I’ll cook some family Italian dishes in particular.
So yes, I’m a lazy Wench when it comes to putzing around in the kitchen — especially right now, when I have a deadline, galleys, revisions and web site material all sort of due at the same time, a situation I hope never to repeat — but I’ll share one of my favorite and quickest holiday recipes:
We’re lucky enough to live near a pizzeria that does a fantastic pizza with fresh spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes — it’s available all year round, but it’s a particularly festive meal in December, so we often order take-out on December 23, as we did this year — it’s a great convenience and a good meal while some of us are finishing up our shopping, and the rest of us are facing a long night of wrapping presents!
Cookies…who can live without them at this time of year. I do love to bake cookies — sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles, or red and green frosting … and of course there are gingerbread men and their ginger ladies … pfefferneuse and molasses, snickerdoodles and chocolate chip (some dare to claim the CCs don’t count as Christmas cookies, but hey — anything with chocolate in it is welcome in my house at any time of year!).
When my kids were younger, we would make gingerbread houses and decorate them lavishly, with royal icing and green and red gumdrops, with peppermint candies and candy canes, gobs of snowy icing and colored sprinkles, non-pareils for the roof shingles, and lollipops filling the windows for a stained-glass effect. We would put marshmallow snowmen in the yard, and even if the walls sagged and the snowmen were tilted, we had a great time (this one was made by the ladies at www.ConfectionObsession.com, a local bakery).
On Christmas Eve, or sometimes it will be Christmas Day if family members are arriving at different times, we’ll have a buffet with a variety of foods — and the array of red-and-green themed foods continues. I always make a spinach lasagna (I’m making two tomorrow for family and friends), or chicken cacciatore, or spaghetti and meatballs… in our family, anything Italian is considered a Christmas-y food. Maybe because we’re part Italian — but it’s also because Italian dishes are often red-and-green foods! Nothing looks nicer on a Christmas table, I think, than an array of steaming, spicy, brightly-colored dishes made with fresh ingredients…in reds and greens.
Yes folks, turkey and all the trimmings is for Thanksgiving — lasagna and gingerbread houses are for Christmas (yeah, I know, maybe it’s just us)! There are years that some family members have tried to sneak in roast beef or ham, but there’s no getting away from the Italian dishes at this time of year!
The list of red and green combination foods goes on and on… let us not overlook red and green peppers, or strawberries for dessert and for daiquiris … olives and pimentos, maraschino cherries and green jello, cranberries and green beans … sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles …. I’m sure you all have your own favorites to add!
May whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year be filled with love and warmth, with joy and generosity. I wish all good things for you this week, and may that carry through into your New Year….