Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Christmas Kitchen

 


Outside, tree branches and hedges are dancing wildly. Juncos, sparrows, and bush tits gather in clusters around the bird feeder. Tim is working from home this week because of a cold, and he saw the birds scatter in a flash with one bird so frantic it flew into the window. The reason - a Sharp-shinned Hawk swooped down and landed on the roof of the lemon tree shelter. 

Ironically, the week that Tim is home is the week I have been called to teach. The past two days I've been in the school library, with someone else covering there for one class so I could teach a French 11 class. This afternoon is Senior Foods and Junior Band. 

I came home yesterday afternoon and after dinner used my rare boost of energy to do some baking. I've been pulling out the tried and true recipes collected over the years from my mother and others. 

Croustillants, or cheese crackers, is a savoury treat, and delicious with a glass of wine. I see that I first posted this recipe 10 years ago. It's still a favourite. 


Almond Crescents are a delicious and elegant treat from my mother. When I was growing up there was always a flurry of baking in December. Not too early, but beginning in the middle of December, the kitchen was filled with the sights and sounds of a Christmas kitchen - 

- the whirring of the mixer
- the tapping of knives against measuring cups
- the beeping of the oven timer
- bowls of cookie dough chilling in the fridge
- clouds of icing sugar
- children's faces with tell-tale signs of licking spatulas
- chopping of nuts and chocolate and dried fruit
- fragrant and irresistible warm cookies from the oven that just beg to be tasted



There are the old, tried and true recipes. These days, I don't make everything I used to make. Each year I choose few favourites. New recipes sometimes make their appearance, as well. From Christmas with Southern Living 2000, I tried a recipe for Crunchy Vanilla Clusters. They are more of a candy than a cookie, and ever so tasty if you like a lot of crunch. The list of ingredients is short, but there is one odd one that may make you wonder - ramen noodles! 


Plates of cookies for friends, a sweet or two enjoyed with a friend, or alone, over a cup of tea, Christmas baking is a sign of the season. I am never concerned about too many cookies. They keep very well in the freezer, and Tim takes some baking in his lunches each day. When the family is together, an assortment of baking adds to the enjoyment of conversation and laughter. 

Another nibble that goes down well is Spiced Candied Nuts. A friend gave me this recipe quite a few years ago. These are great by themselves, but also add personality to a salad of greens, apples or pears, and blue cheese. Or served alongside a creamy Pannacotta dessert. 

The Christmas Kitchen is a happy place, but one that provides time for retrospection, as well. Thoughts of family and friends come to mind as I measure and mix, roll and bake, then store the fruits of my labour. I think about the years when my children were young and how excited they were to help out. Now it's the grandchildren who occasionally come to bake with Nana. Food traditions pass through the years, a thread connecting past to present. There are changes and adaptations as family members are added with their unique customs, yet the spirit of the Christmas Kitchen remains the same - one of love and festivity as we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. 

What's it like in your Christmas Kitchen? 

28 comments:

Vee said...

Dullsville. 😁

Connie said...

My Mom made those crescent cookies too, only she used walnuts. They are one of my all time favorites . . . a taste from my childhood. Beautiful post!

Marie Smith said...

there is so much to enjoy in this post. I can picture being there with you. Great post.

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Your baking always inspires me, Lorrie, both in this post and your previous ones. I’ll be checking out several of your recipes. Reading about little Iris helping with the cookie baking, was a sweet vision. I so enjoy all the sights, smells and tastes in my Christmas kitchen. Happy Baking!

Angie said...

Lorrie - your pictures belong in Southern Living! My husband makes fruitcake (a recipe he brought with him from the UK) and there is nothing like the aroma when it is baking. My son and I have a tradition to make gingerbread men together; we will be baking on Friday and I can't wait. Every few years, we make a variety of cookies and give a selection to the neighbors. This is not one of those years - maybe 2022? I have been thinking about making divinity, one of my Mom's Christmas staples. You have inspired me - I just put it on my list of to-dos!!!

Granny Marigold said...

When the family is together an assortment of baking adds to the enjoyment of conversation and laughter. Exactly. That's the reason we bake, isn't it!!!

Blondie's Journal said...

I pinned each and every recipe, Lorrie. I have a ton but these sound just perfect and a bit different from the same old cookies and bar cookies I pack in tins for family and friends. I admire your energy to bake after teaching and school events. We simply can't put tradition aside as if it's a burden. I loved your list of all the bustle in your kitchens of the past!

I only have a bit of baking for friends and family, and some gift wrapping, but the biggest joy right now is my daughter gave birth to a baby girl last night! You are the first blogger to know! All bets were on with the gender but I just knew. Colette arrived at 12:50 a.m. at 6 lbs., 2 oz. I was in touch with Abigail throughout the night. Due to Covid restrictions, they can have no visitors. Pictures--you really couldn't ask for the most beautiful baby!!! I will share pics once they do. I'm on cloud 9! Maybe I will never get to the baking!!😊

Jane x

Elizabethd said...

I love the scents of a Christmas kitchen, spices, cakes, savouries. I'm not doind a lot of baking this year, just a few mince pies.Your croustillants look very appetising.

Catherine said...

I am baking Apfel Strudel and it smell very good in the kitchen.
But today they came to change my windows and doors ! I am in panic. They are staying until Tuesday.
I did not it my baking and fortunately went to order the turkey and buche yesterday!
I love your post!

Jenn Jilks said...

I cannot bake. JB can't eat any of it, sadly, so you know where that leads! I think we've a small ham for Christmas. We've winds, as well.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Beautiful post
Flour and measuring cups are now in my thoughts.

Rajani Rehana said...
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Rajani Rehana said...
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Happy@Home said...

Your description of the Christmas kitchen is so comforting. Definitely the place to be except when all of the dirty dishes pile up. Then I want to escape :) I am going to check out your recipes. My own Christmas kitchen will be kicking into high gear this weekend.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

I don't do much baking anymore. I used to make cut out cookies with sprinkles, but I have not done that the past couple of yours. Your treats all sound wonderful.

Mary said...

I just don't know how you do it all dear Lorrie - returning to school to assist and make so many wonderful nibbles - I can smell that baking from here!!!
My Christmas Kitchen is much quieter this year - so far have only made the almond cookies - but will be baking mince pies next week. We are not having the annual Christmas Eve party so not so much to do. I purchased an English Christmas Pudding and cookies from World Market - fortunately they made their way westward across the pond after a lengthy wait. Just wish I could travel across in the other direction - fingers still crossed we'll make it next spring!

ellen b. said...

Love your Christmas Kitchen reflections! I'm still not settled on what I will bake so my kitchen is clean with no dustings of ingredients...yet.

Sara - Villa Emilia (My Woodland Garden) said...

What a lovely post, Lorrie.
I think I will copy the last paragraph to my diary. So beautifully written!

Beside a babbling brook... said...

Hahhhhh....

My comment disappeared... yet again.

"Miss B.B."
🎄🌟🔥🎄🔥🌟🎄

Beside a babbling brook... said...

Beautiful photos...

Beautiful words...

Beautiful post....

"Miss B.B."
🎄🌟🔥🎄🔥🌟🎄

Julia said...

Such an interesting post with all the recipes. I want to make your cheese crackers and spiced nuts. I started my Christmas baking yesterday with my husband's all time favorite molasses stack cake--nine thin layers with cooked dried apples between layers. This is an old, old traditional family cake recipe that I have made him for Christmas most every year of our 65 years together. Your "sights and sounds in the kitchen" sound so familiar to what I remember of days gone by when I had children around. Thanks for the memories!

Coastal Ripples said...

All your cooking looks delicious. Lovely to have Christmas family traditions. I have a few favourites I like to make each year such as my mince pies made from almond pastry. Bet your kitchen smells wonderful. B x

Barb said...

Hi Lorrie~

Beautiful post! I can only imagine how wonderful your kitchen must smell! Some of my favorite Christmas memories are those spent in the kitchen with my mother and sisters baking cookies, fruit cake and other goodies to share with friends and family...happy memories! Your vanilla clusters and spiced nut recipes look so delicious, thanks for sharing the recipe. I'm always looking for new recipe to add to my list of treats to make during the holidays.

Have a wonderful, restful, peaceful week-end!

Hugs,
Barb
Ch

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Hello, Lorrie. All your goodies look wonderful. In our kitchen the fruit cakes went into the oven about an hour ago and 2 turns of fudge are done. Next, are a couple types of cookies and then the Christmas Stolen. I do love to bake, but don't do near the amount I once did. Enjoy these lovely holiday days!

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

ps - Thanks, Lorrie for the recipes!

Lowcarb team member said...

The Christmas Season has scents and smells all of its own ...
Lovely post.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas.

All the best Jan

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'd love to try to make the cheese crackers! I will probably make my sweet hubby some cinnamon rolls this week and some cupcakes (his birthday is close to Christmas day!) Enjoy your weekend! Holiday hugs

Anneliese said...

I love that list of the sights and sounds of the Christmas kitchen and can so relate to these! I can imagine how the almond crescents melt in your mouth and how the vanilla clusters must be addicting. It is such a great time to quickly package some sugar cookies or peppernuts to take to the salon, hairdresser or neighbor. I also am baking less than I used to, but I like to have each of the kids' favorites around.

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