From time to time, you’ll hear someone disparage the holidays. They’ll complain that Christmas is too stressful or too commercial, too one thing or another. Not me, I love the holidays. The hustle, the bustle, the cooking, decorating, music and, yes, even the shopping. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much all good.
With Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday, the past few days were all about shopping. However, with a refrigerator full of leftovers, I kept my credit card in my wallet and made turkey soup. That’s not to say, I wasn’t tempted. My intray pinged constantly with one email offer after another. These weren’t just any old sale. Not by a long shot, they were HUGE, door busters and blowouts. At least that was the subject line in the emails.
If last weekend was all about shopping, then it stands to reason that this coming weekend must be about decorating. Yes? No? Maybe? Let’s go with yes and deck the halls. More than anything, decorations tell our family history. From keepsakes and school photos framed in glittery popsicle sticks to tiny elves, sailboats and cowbells, our tree ornaments track new babies, weddings, comings and goings, hobbies and travels. Each tells a story, reminds us of an adventure or harkens back to a particular time in our lives.
In addition, our decorations create a bridge linking one generation to the next. Technology changes, cooking trends come and go, new artists overtake old crooners but you can always find a spot for Nana’s della Robbia wreath or Great-Grandma’s crèche. Several years ago, we found a small hemlock, perfect for Grandpa’s ancient string of outdoor lights. The only trouble was, as soon as Dad plugged them in, the bulbs exploded with a snap, crackle and pop. I guess some things are just not made to last. That said, the story has been told and retold at least fifty times, maybe more.
Whether it’s shopping, holiday baking or decking the halls that has you stressed (or all of the above), here are a few tips to keep you centered throughout the yuletide season.
1. Keep things in perspective and set priorities. It’s the holidays; it’s a busy time. It’s okay to say no once in a while. Don’t confuse must and can. As in, you must show up for work, take a shower and get some sleep versus you can singlehandedly fold hundreds of origami cranes and hang them from the gym ceiling for the school dance. Can doesn’t mean you should let alone must.
2. Exercise, I’m not listening when you say you don’t have time. With a to-do list a mile long, you deserve some me-time. Get on the stationary bike or take a walk, join a Zumba class or spend an hour stretching on your yoga mat. Breathe deep and take a break from all those things that are shouting for your attention.
3. Laughter is a wonderful stress reducer. Whether a string of lights explodes, you drop the pecan pie or you discover mice have been living in the Lionel train, all you can do is laugh and laugh some more.
Enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. Bon appétit!
I like to make a cheesecake at least once a year for Thanksgiving or Christmas. This one will be perfect for Christmas Eve. Enjoy!
Ginger Cookie Crumb Crust
2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 inches fresh ginger peeled and finely grated (about 2 tablespoons)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
Make the Cookie Crumb Crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the cookie crumbs, brown sugar, spices and butter in a 10-inch springform pan and mix with a fork until well combined. Firmly press the crumbs into the bottom and about 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Tightly wrap the bottom and sides of the pan in two large sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Cool the pan on a rack. Do not remove the foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Make the Ginger-Orange Filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy. With the beater running, gradually add the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Continue beating, adding the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the sour cream. Add the crystallized and fresh ginger, orange zest and juice and beat until well combined. Pour the filling into the springform pan.
Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake until the filling is puffed slightly, softly set and golden, about 1 1/4 hours.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and discard the foil. Put the cheesecake on a rack to cool. Transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator and chill uncovered until cold. Cover and chill overnight or up to 2 days.
To serve: carefully cut around the sides of the pan with a thin knife and release the sides of the pan. Cut the cheesecake into wedges and serve.
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One Year Ago – Chocolate Walnut Tart
Two Years Ago – Citrus & Spice Sugar Cookies
Three Years Ago – Peppermint Bark Cookies
Four Years Ago – Mixed Reds & Greens Holiday Salad
Five Years Ago – Snowy Pecan Balls
Six Years Ago – Chocolate Truffles
Seven Years Ago – Smoked Salmon Mousse
Eight Years Ago – Roasted Beans
Nine Years Ago – Winter Soup with Pasta, Beans & Greens
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
How do you keep your sanity during the Holidays? Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017