2018 Year in Review + A Big Announcement

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. 

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Champagne, Pork Chops & Presents: How We Christmas’d in 2018

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. 

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Whole Grain Linzer Cookies with Rye Flour & Lingonberry Jam

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!). 

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Homemade Bitters: A DIY Holiday Gift for Cocktail Connoisseurs

By definition, bitters are bitter and aromatic herbs and spice infusions in tinctures or spirits. You’re probably familiar with the bar staples: Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters, but with the recent focus on mixology, bitters have come to the forefront. There has been more focus on the flavors of bitters and how they can enhance a drink. With the right packaging, homemade bitters are also a perfect DIY gift idea!

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Homemade Vanilla Extract: A DIY Gift Idea

I'm choosing not to stress and to enjoy my final Christmas preparations. Homemade gifts are one of my defense mechanisms against the holiday hangups. Instead of battling feuding families in malls, hit the wine and spirits shop (extra bonus: might as well buy yourself some wine while you're there) and your favorite spice store. Two stops, and you'll have the makings of homemade vanilla extract. Cue up your favorite holiday albums (Mariah Carey and She & Him, for me please), spike the egg nog, and then, it's as simple as pouring liquid over vanilla beans. 

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