Cooking, Holidays

Favorite cookbooks and holiday eating tips

12377884_10103189612028748_2444698459911756451_oIsn’t there a saying about we all end up turning into our mothers at some point in time? If not, there should be. I remind myself more of Mamma every day. I remember as a child Mamma spending hours looking at cookbooks. She’d read them cover to cover almost like a novel. I used to think that was silly, but now, I do the exact same thing.

The holiday season has been a busy one for my husband and I as we were both in Christmas plays in the area. At last I had some free time last week to begin menu planning for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. I have many cookbooks in my collection, but I have three that I love to reference for holiday cooking. All three were gifts and so they are even more special to me. The first is the Hershey’s cookbook. This is a great book for desserts to make year-round. My next favorite is called “Sweet Serendipity” and features desserts from the famous Serendipity 3 restaurant in New York City. My godmother gave me the book one year for Christmas as a remembrance of the times she and I went to New York together. It is one of my very favorite cookbooks. There are beautiful pictures and funny stories in the book of the many celebrities who have frequented the restaurant over the years.

My godmother and Dad share a birthday so last week Morgan and I made them Mad King Ludwig’s Chocolate Cake from the Serendipity cookbook. It is a German chocolate cake which is Dad’s favorite. They both declared it the “best German chocolate cake they had ever eaten in their lives.”

Another favorite holiday cookbook of mine is called “Christmas from the Heart of Home” by Susan Branch. The book was actually a gift to Mamma in 1991 from her dear friends Don and Mary who love Christmas about more than anyone I know. It is a beautiful book full of decadent recipes and fun ideas for decorating and making the holiday season extra special.

Tucked inside this particular book, I found a very funny email someone had sent me almost 10 years ago. I don’t know who originally wrote this piece so we will credit it as Author Unknown, but here are some very hilarious rules for holiday eating!

Tips for Holiday Eating
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it all cost. I mean, have some standards!
10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

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