Over the years, I’ve dialed back my expectations about Christmas and unplugged from all the frenetic rushing around that often accompanies it. Ironically, the more I do this, the more I enjoy it. I love to create spaciousness around the holiday, which gives me the time and inner peace to notice the procession of simple, quiet pleasures that are plentiful this time of year. Joyful little things such as light in all its softer forms: flickering candles, twinkling lights and sparkling glitter. The darker days encourage me to slow down and this gives me time to notice and savor these small moments.
My favorite holiday tradition is making a double batch of Marcella Hazan’s classic slow-cooked bolognese sauce in my big copper kettle. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/marcella-hazans-bolognese-sauce-50063585. When served over quinoa pasta or spaghetti squash and topped with genuine parmigiano-reggiano cheese, it makes a splendid, easy meal to serve guests. I purchase the parmesan via The Joy of Plenty way at half the retail price and buy the beef directly from the farmer. I use organic ingredients too, which definitely kicks the eating experience up a notch. This is six-star cooking at its best.
My favorite memory of this sauce occurred in 2007. I assembled it in the early afternoon and instructed my then 16 year old son to stir it every 30 minutes while I was at a wine tasting party. William had just purchased the very first iPhone and set the alarm to ring every 30 minutes. So, I left confident knowing that the sauce was going to bubble away in good hands.
When I came home at five, I checked the sauce. It was two-thirds gone!! Apparently every time William stirred the sauce, he ate some. Oh oh. Lesson learned: don’t leave sauce stirring in the hands of a hungry teenager!
I don’t quite remember what happened next. I have a vague recollection of going to the grocery store and buying cooked prawns and cocktail sauce or something.
To this day, this memory frequently drifts across my mind and I still chuckle. Ho Ho Ho.
Merry Christmas to you, dear readers!