It’s that time of year again. That magical and wonderful time known as “the Holidays.” Days as in plural… not daze as in shock or overwhelm. Although either ending is appropriate as most people whiz through the next 2 months in a perpetual state of shock and/or overwhelm. (side note: why can’t I think of all these z and x words when I’m playing Words with Friends?). Not suprisingly I’m not a “Holiday’s” type person. I don’t have an array of holiday sweaters or keep a small decorated Christmas tree in some small corner of my home year round to remind me of the joy of this season. However you can find last years Christmas wrapping paper still in a pile in the corner of my dining room. I stop just short of describing myself as a Holiday Grinch. Just because I don’t buy special turkey and Pilgrim printed kitchen towels, get up at 2am for Black Friday, or make orange and clove pomander balls doesn’t make me a Grinch or a Scrooge. It makes me….. I’m not sure there’s a character that describes me. I guess if they were handing out “Holiday’s” awards I’m not the blue ribbon cookie baking, hand crafted gift making while wearing my Mrs. Claus apron. I would more than likely get one of those green ribbons stamped PARTICIPANT. The kind you get for just showing up and surviving.
There is however one aspect to this season that sucks me in hook, line and sinker. You can find me on any given day from November to December 23 in the magazine aisle of any given store – yes even Lowes. Despite the fact that I have a cabinet full of overflowing cookbooks and magazines – most of them holiday editions – I still stop and leaf through each and every one I see. And in particularly weak moments I buy a newer edition than the one I have even though the voice of reason is screaming in my head “DO YOU REALLY NEED A RECIPE TO FIX “FLUFFY MASHED POTATOES” – SOMETHING YOU FIX AT LEAST THREE TIMES A WEEK FOR DINNER???” But the “Magic of the Season” overrules the voice of reason every time.
There is just something about this time of year that makes me believe I will actually have the time and ability to make cloverleaf dinner rolls from scratch because I see a recipe for it next to a coupon for flour in the Sunday paper. I clip and print hundreds of recipes for pecan pie despite the fact that every year I use the exact same recipe I have used for years. And I took the time to Google “pate brise” to find out it is just Martha Stewart’s fancy ass word for pie dough (well actually it’s the French word for pie dough but Martha makes it sound like it’s so much more than pie dough). And I bookmarked the pate brise recipe the same day I cut the coupons for Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts ($.50 off 2 in your local paper). If you’re wondering which one will win that battle I’d put money on the Refrigerated Pie Crusts.
And that’s just the tip of the Martha Stewart iceburg. Suddenly I’m reading her 8 steps to simple gravy and I’m thinking I could simmer a turkey neck with some fresh clipped herbs and chicken broth and use that to make a slurry to mix with drippings to make gravy. Yep not even sure I know what a turkey neck looks like and I have no clue what “slurry” is but it’s Thanksgiving so I can do it. And while I’m at it I’m going to bake the stuffing in turkey shaped cake pans like she did – it makes for a pleasing table setting. And soon I’ll be moving on to her Christmas magazine where I’ll convince myself that i can make hand stamped lables to put around the hand made bath & body salts she suggests to hand out as hostess gifts. I wonder if Martha has ever heard of Bath & Body Works?
Holiday magazines are an addiction – they should make a patch for it. Even though at some point my realistic side takes over and reminds me that Martha Stewart is some type of home economics robot experiment gone bad I still find myself back at the magazine rack. And while I’m much more capable of completing Paula Deen recipes (butter, sugar, butter, suger, bake) I’m still wondering why it is I’m thinking that baking blueberry muffins from scratch suddenly sounds so much simpler because it’s Christmas. Because if it were the middle of summer I’d be spending 5 minutes making muffins with Betty Crocker in stead of measuring flour, sugar, milk and looking for fresh blueberries which in the middle of December is impossible.
I started to notice this was a growing problem several years ago when I branched out to the coupon circulars. Companies always offer a handy holiday recipe printed next to the coupon for their product. I have a collection of these coupon circular recipes too. Variations of pumpkin pie and candied pecans and cheesecake from the chef’s at Libby, Domino and Kraft. I even have the Campbell’s recipe for green bean casserole and I despise green bean casserole. I realized however I’ve moved beyond “problem” to “out of control” last night when I saved the recipe for White Castle Holiday Stuffing. I actually considered making stuffing from 10 White Castle hamburgers (pickles removed) mixed with celery, thyme, sage, pepper and chicken broth.
Twelve step program here I come.