It’s a fairly accurate indication of how charmed my life is these days that I considered the act of having to choose what I would make to bring to a New Years Party tomorrow difficult. If makes you wonder what I’d consider easy — which spa gift certificate I should use first to get a manicure before the party? Whether I should wear the earrings from this year’s or last year’s little blue box to the party? Which jet to take there? It’s all in a day of the glamorous life of a food blogger. Ahem.
I took a Home Economics class in the 7th grade. I probably don’t need to tell you how stoked I was about this (especially after nearly flunking Wood Shop the semester before with the saddest “toolbox” ever) although I am fairly certain they failed at whatever household management skills they’d hoped to impress on my 12-year-old self. I’m currently staring down a particularly fetid sinkful of dishes, willing them to wash themselves, while deep creases form in a towering basket of clean laundry that has yet to be folded, though perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for the next generation. Nevertheless, the one class I remember perfectly was the one in which we made a puffy muffin embodiment of butter-slathered, sugar broiled cinnamon toast. It could be whipped up in no time, presumably along with a stack of bacon while wearing a gown-like robe and fuzzy slippers to the delight of sleepy-eyed children tumbling down the stairs. (Sorry, my housewife archetype is firmly etched in the Brady Bunch era.)
I have this affliction or maybe you could call it a fixation with latkes. And I know you’re probably thinking, potato pancakes? With shredded onion? They’re good, but are they really worth obsessing over? But you’d be using the literal definition of latkes and to me, latkes are not so much a singular recipe with a finite ingredient list but an approach to pancakes; an approach that could include anything that can be shredded and fried. And oh, when you start from this vantage point, they most certainly will.
You have all of your holiday shopping done, don’t you? I bet everything is wrapped and in gift bags, and that you know how to tie ribbons into bows without cursing. I suspect everyone but me knows how to… fluff? Is that what they call it? I bet everyone knows how to arrange the tissue paper inside the gift bags so that it looks perfectly festive and even a tad enthusiastic. I have a hunch that your gifts are homemade and hand-lettered; that you made your own cards. Oh, you didn’t? Well, come sit down over here. You’re among friends.
I know I told you my days of late have been a blur of butter and a plume of winter spice but I didn’t forget that December is as much about cocktail parties as it is about cookie swaps. And cocktail parties need snacks. They need bacon-wrapped dates and stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail and parmesan biscotti. They need elegant little toasts and spanakopita triangles. And they need deviled eggs. In fact, I’d argue that without deviled eggs, it’s actually no party at all.
Every December, I make you a promise in my head that this, this! will be the year that I share a recipe for classic sugar cookies, the kind that you can roll into any shape your heart desires and sprinkle, then ice, glitter and bauble merrily into the New Year and this year was no different. But then December arrives and my cooking dance card is absolutely bursting with offers to fill your internet quota with cocktails and party snacks and wrappable candies and so, so many cookies. Cookies with butter and chocolate, cookies with puddles of mint; cookies with hazelnuts and blackberries or white chocolate and ginger and butterscotch, people. Is it any wonder that I always lose sight of loftier baking goals each year when faced with the prospect of butterscotch-crunched cookies?
Is there anything so dull as a brussels sprouts recipe just days after the brussels sprout-ing-est holiday of the year? No? Phew. Because these sprouts, they’re a long time coming. It took me forever to get them right. I’d originally intended them for the cookbook. I made them six different ways in the fall of 2010, and I never found what I was looking for. It was a year before I could even look at brussels again, and by that time, the book had moved on without them. But I had not.