Special Occasion · Uncategorized

The Holidays Past and Present

After a very, very, long, hiatus that started with an injured horse, then moved into the wedding of the year (my daughter’s) and making it through the first part of winter AND the holidays, I am now wanting (longing) to get back on track again with the blog. You see, writing this is for me. A creative outlet. But most importantly, it’s an homage to my mother as I enter my own culinary journey and follow in her footsteps. During this past year I have accumulated a ton of photos and recipes and here I sit, literally not knowing how to start or pick up where I left off!

You see, I’m a Virgo, so in my mind I wanted to stay in chronological order by date. Yeah…No.  I’m also a smart lady and that’s no longer happening (actually, there’s so much stuff that it’s no longer even a possibility) So, I figure just start fresh and add things from last year as my time allows. It’s awkward, like getting on a bike again, but I feel like after this first post of the year, I’ll slip right back into it as if I hadn’t been gone for a while.

As I said, writing these posts is for me. My therapy. My journey. So, thank goodness I had an alternate outlet and I was able to satisfy my need to photograph food by posting everything on Instagram. Instagram was a quick and easy way to share what I was doing and the food that I was making. Hopefully, soon I will be able to write about everything that I have been learning, the new techniques and recipes that I’ve tried, the wedding, and share all of those fabulous photos along the way. From the crafts, to the shower, and of course the big day, many things to share and write about, and if not, at least I know that they were well documented on my Instagram account for all to see! I will say that one of my favorite memories was designing the wedding cake. Sitting down, sketching it out, and finally seeing it come to life on the big day. (You think it’s easy? I thought so too. Not so much)   🙂

 

So, where to begin. Well, It’s January. A nostalgic time of year for me. We are just coming out of the holidays and my mother’s birthday was on the 4th, so there’s plenty on my mind and a lot of reflection.

My mom was truly in her element at holiday time. She would plan and shop months ahead in anticipation. I found myself doing the same thing. Going over the menu and accumulating ingredients weeks ahead. Meticulously planning the celebration of food and family.  The whole time channeling her. It was as if I was no longer cooking for us, I was cooking for her.

This is what I miss the most. Being able to share this passion with her. Now It’s as if everything I make, I make it for her. I continue to amaze myself along the way and I know she would be so proud. Now reflecting on the holidays, I feel that it is the perfect place to start.  So, on to the holidays!

We had a small group for Thanksgiving and staying in true “Ruthie” fashion, I kept everything traditional. Thanksgiving was one of those holidays that my mother never ventured too far off the traditional path. I now understand why. This was the one time of year, literally, that my mother made turkey and of course all the usual sides, and as that day draws closer you crave it. You crave those recipes, you long to taste that stuffing, the roast turkey, the pumpkin pie. Not some new recipe, but the one’s you hadn’t tasted since last year.  The recipes that bring you back to those family holidays, the one’s you grew up with. Don’t get me wrong, my mother was always trying to outdo herself from the year before, not by bringing in a whole slew of new flavors, but by building off those old familiar ones. I find myself in much the same way, challenging myself to always improve each time I make a recipe. Make it better than the time before. Like my roast turkey, weighing in at around 22 lbs. I opted to treat it like my favorite roast chicken recipe. Not so much reinventing the traditional roast turkey recipe, but trying it in a different way this year. So, I stuffed the cavity with lemons, onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. I put a slew of herbs under the skin, seasoned everything well inside and out. Smeared the whole thing with butter, put white wine in the bottom of the pan under the rack, and simply roasted it, basting it often until it reached juicy perfection. Every time I pull off a near perfect roast turkey I think of my mom. “She would have loved this” I say to myself. She would have asked me how I made it? and we would brain storm and discuss the roasting of the turkey. We would pick apart everything whether it was successful or not. Always learning from each recipe. Before the day’s end, we would already be planning the next Thanksgiving dinner 🙂

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Now, it was also during this hectic time that I was thrown a few curve balls. Like my oven going on the fritz. It would go from 0 to 500+ degrees rapidly. So, with the need to get through the holidays, I mastered the art of timing. I managed to bake cookies, pies, and bread, regardless of the risk I faced of burning everything to a crisp. Actually, I was getting pretty good at it too! This little mishap forced me to pay attention, touch the food, and rely on my sense of smell. It actually made me more aware of the cooking process as I mastered the art of skillfully turning the oven off and on again to regulate the temperature. Yup, I learned a lot from this experience and I am a better cook for it.

So, we had the repairman out and sadly he could not fix it in time for Christmas. So, now I was debating on whether to tackle my Christmas dinner rib roast inside or should I consider grilling it? It was a large roast and I didn’t want to risk overcooking or under cooking it and it seemed that the risk was just as great either way. Then just as I was debating on what to do, they predicted a warm up for Christmas. Yes! Decision made. This was truly a sign from above. The weather gave me the break I needed, it’s 40 degrees! Even though it was very windy and began to rain, it was going to be doable. Grilling was now my best option and it turned out amazing! Again, challenging myself, using my new found talent of timing, and feeling my way. The greatest challenge was having to cook it directly on the grate as the roast and a pan would not fit inside. This roast turned out amazing. I wish my mom would have been here for both of those holidays. For myself, they were big accomplishments.

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This past holiday season will be remembered, and until the next one, it will remain the best one. Now, lets see what this new year has in store. Here’s to 2017 and many, many, new adventures in cooking!

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