In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I'm sharing a list of what I am loving lately, including these whole-grain Swedish Sugar Cookies, and obviously, Julep tops my love list too.
Maybe Valentine’s Day makes you cringe, but I would encourage you to see the holiday as a gentle deadline for sending and showing love to friends, family, and romantic partners. This year, I’m harkening to my elementary school days, when we’d craft mailboxes, position them on our desks, then await the delivery of Valentine’s cards and a bounty of candy hearts.
Like snowfall on Christmas morning, this past year, I saw a brighter beauty. The soil, the roots, the dormancy of my past life still existed in me, but there was so much sparkle in this new coating, so much brightness. I wanted to pull all the warm moments close to my chin, like snuggling under a protective winter quilt. There was so much warmth to this Christmas, much more than a day. This is how I Christmas'd in 2020...
As a kid, I was always searching for traditions. I orchestrated (read: made my family suffer through) an annual Christmas play with my best friend, complete with violin and piano solos. There were spreads or ring bologna, cheddar cheese, and soda. As an adult, I’m still searching for traditions, but now I err on the side of prosciutto, smoked gouda, and wine. It’s all too easy to let traditions slip away, to avoid the effort, or to overstress (hi!), but these intentional celebrations enrich our lives.
"I love s'mores," he hinted. "I love cookies," he hinted. So I went to the kitchen to heed the hints. I heated the oven, whisked, poured, whirled, and then swirled homemade fluff into a chocolate dough. I crushed whole-grain graham crackers and sprinkled them over the swirls. I watched as the warm oven solidified the textures into a magical campfire cookie. I tried to savor the moment - the warm kitchen, the chocolatey smell, the way he smiled after the first taste test.
The internet is ablaze with ideas for holiday cookie boxes, which require careful packing and shipping. Though this makes for a beautiful snail mail surprise, it does diminish the appeal of the assembly. However, with a vintage crate or a pretty tray, you can take a similar idea and enjoy the sweet bounty in person.
I meant to share these photos and this Dutch Christmas Bread recipe last year, but as so often happens, I was busy, and the season passed too quickly. However, as Christmas and Hanukah rolled around this year, I started reminiscing about the book and our brunch. The sentiment behind it felt even more meaningful after the major challenges of this year. It felt like this post was meant to be shared in 2020 all along.