I find so often with the slow, intentional labors of love, the pieces start to fall into place and exceed even my obsessive planning. This gathering centered around a bird. Beyond the decision to confit a bird (a first for me), I felt a different sort of reverence for this bird. I didn't just pick up a plasticized cut of meat from the neon-lit cooler. Our friend waited in the cold (this is one part of hunting I do not understand), hunted this bird, plucked its painterly feathers and [mostly] cleaned it (Josh, you could have been a bit more thorough, but we'll allow it). We foraged winter branches, berries and greens from our dog's happy place, which became a centerpiece backdrop for the pheasant feathers. We set the table, dimmed the lights, and the dining room felt pleasantly small and cozy as it brimmed with friends new and old and laughter.
Though I didn't make the trip to Punxsutawney this year, I did celebrate Groundhog Day in spirit. Punxsutawney Phil can be a controversial character when he sees his shadow and predicts more winter. I happen to like the snowy months (don't hate me), so I'm fine with that furball either way. However, if there's one friend of mine who would really like Phil (for the wrong reasons), it's my Julep girl.
With temperatures dipping into single and negative digits, the only reason to leave the couch is to make warm drinks. Here's some ideas to keep you cozy.
This time of year, I like to spend some time looking back at the whole year, to soak up the individual ingredients the calendar vigorously whisks into one batter. Usually, my reflections are marked by blog content, but this year, my content was more sparse because my energy was concentrated on one very big project, which I'm finally ready to announce, so keep reading, and let me know what you're proud of this year. As always, if you're here, thank you! Thanks for reading, for commenting, for bringing these words and pictures to life.
With each passing year, I try to whittle away at my perfectionism, or at least guide it to where it is best directed (remember? lower the expectations!). Christmas morning is not one of those places. Though I want a touch of decadence, and I want to create a morning to remember and a breakfast to savor, that experience should not come at the expense of sequestering myself in the kitchen.
Still have people on your shopping list? Skip the lines and try one of these homemade gifts for a more personalized holiday this year. There's homemade gifts for baking, bartending, sipping and self care. Plus, there's ideas for what to sip as you get crafty.
Whenever I plan gatherings, I choose to invest more time in one (or at least I *try* to invest in only one) menu item. This winter, I had been craving the flavors and simple beauty of Whole Grain Linzer Cookies, or Helle Linzer Plaetzchen if you fancy the German title. Named for the Austrian Linzer Torte, a latticed pastry with jam filling, these buttery shortbread cookies and peeks of jam feel like little ornaments. In the vein of European traditions, I chose a Swedish lingonberry jam for a burst of red filling (and because I dream of participating in a St. Lucia celebration someday!).