Scenes from Christmas 2015

It was an unseasonably warm Christmas but a good one, I think. As always, the best memories were made in the weeks leading up to the big day, in the prep.

We skipped the Nutcracker (next year, I promise!) but splurged on a fresh wreath for the front door, watched Home Alone and Christmas Vacation at least nine times, baked some of Barrak’s favorite spiced chocolate chunk walnut cookies, went to a mother-daughter cookie exchange, met Josh Perry in the parking lot after Magnus’s winter party at school. As is our tradition, I made Jacques Pepin’s Maman’s cheese souffle on Christmas morning and realized too late that I was missing one basic but key ingredient that required Barrak to make an emergency run to a convenience store. And is also our tradition, Barrak insisted we buy a tree that barely fit in our living room.

Another Christmas in the can!

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Roast chicken, a new way

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This was a really good dinner from a few weeks ago.

I love a good roast chicken with lemon, onion, thyme and garlic. This is a nice variation on the classic, and just as simple. You rub a whole chicken with a bunch of warm spices like allspice, cumin, paprika and a few others, roast it for an hour-plus, and voila!

I’ve made this recipe before. But what I REALLY loved this time was the smattering of vegetables that roasted on and around the chicken: chunks of butternut squash, baby carrots, yellow squash and zucchini. They got all caramelized and tender, and soaked up all the good chicken fat and spices that dripped off the bird.

As Uma Thurman says in Pulp Fiction after she sneaks some of John Travolta’s super-strength coke: Goddamn! It was that good. And these were pre-cut, pre-packaged vegetables from the Fresh Produce section of the grocery store, people.

Here’s the recipe for the chicken, from Epicurious. Do add some veg to your roasting pan.

FoodGym

I have that awful feeling you get after you eat a gross, cobbled-together dinner you weren’t really hungry for but ate anyway because it was dinnertime.

It usually involves microwaved leftovers dipped in salad dressing.

And now I’m simultaneously stuffed and dissatisfied as I troll online for things to make for dinner tomorrow night, New Year’s Eve. I would love to be the mom that makes Julia Moskin’s easy homemade marinara instead of popping open a jar. Or the fabulous wife that whips up Sam Sifton’s Butter Chicken on weeknights. I printed both recipes from the New York Times’ Cooking section. But something tells me that’s as far as it will go.

In happier news, my kids opened a restaurant in our basement. It’s called FoodGym. Here are the menus:

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The beef jerky is lovely with a can of Sierra Mist.