In addition to decorating mountains of gingerbread and sugar cookies, a beloved Christmas tradition in my family was eating lefse on Christmas Eve. My Norwegian Great Grandmother would cook the thin potato pancakes every year in her tiny apartment on a piping hot griddle. As soon as the pancake was golden and toasted, we would slather on some salty butter and sprinkle a bit of crunchy sugar.
One of my favorite parts about the holiday season is making homemade gifts for friends. Ninth grade marked the beginning of this tradition, when I handed out clear bags of my simple chocolate-covered toffee to classmates. Doing this made me realize that giving handcrafted gifts with a personal touch felt more unique and heartfelt than anything I could buy at the store. I know my friends agreed. I received requests for that toffee every Christmas until graduation, and we all remain close to this day.
Throwing a holiday party is one of my favorite things to do. The holidays provide excellent opportunities to cook up wonderful recipes and share good food with friends. The only problem is the expense. Holiday parties can be pricey. Luckily, my partner and I have devised ways to keep our costs down without sacrificing holiday cheer!
I'm honored to be a guest at The Kitchn. I've gleaned so much useful information over the years from The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy: Chicago, and the rest of the sites, and from their friendly and intelligent community of followers. I could name many instances when, because of the sites, I've learned something useful or bought this or that to make my house more pleasant and organized. I'd even say that my life has become a little more enjoyable from the non-material things that I've absorbed from their ideas and feedback.
Croquembouche, a spun sugar tower of cream puffs, is French for "crunch in the mouth." Of course it's French - who else would concoct such a perilous pile of pastries?
Traditionally served at weddings and holidays, it's made of cream-filled pâte à choux pastry and anchored with caramel. And, along with most things having to do with weddings or French pastry, I have always considered cream puffs firmly outside my area of expertise.
Here in Portugal we have many traditions of holiday food, but from North to South, at the Christmas Eve table, there's something that you can't miss: King Cake and Codfish Boiled With Potatoes, Eggs and Cabbage (dried and salted codfish). When I was a child I just hated both! I still don't eat the King's Cake candied fruits. And when a child sees a table sprinkled with sweets and all sorts of tempting food, and is told to eat boiled fish with cabbage at dinner, what a sacrifice it is!