Soon after our move to Oakland in August, we decided what to do about the holidays. I could not imagine a Thanksgiving away from Seattle, so we opted to travel for that holiday and stay put for Christmas. Even though I knew I would feel sad to not celebrate with my family, I also knew it was important to start establishing new family traditions. We made sure to have a tree and put our beloved decorations up. We went to some nice parties and had good family time.
I took this photo of my kitchen before the holiday madness set in. Before I made treats for all the teachers and helpers, before I made three cakes for a birthday party, before I hosted lunches, brunches, and dinners. Before I made a big giant mess, in other words.
On Christmas Eve, we took BART into San Francisco. (For those of you who don’t know, BART stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit and it is the subway system in the city and the East Bay. It is terrifically convenient if you happen to live and/or work near a stop.) It was an absolutely glorious day and we spent some time walking around Union Square. They had an ice rink set up and a beautiful tree. We went in to Macy’s to see the decorations and were surprised by a super short line to see Santa. So the boys put in a few last minute requests. We ended our time in the city by walking down to the Ferry Building and joining the last minute rush for good bread and cheese.
Christmas Day was joyful to say the least.
One of the things that Graham wanted most was a basketball jersey so my parents sent them to both Graham and Spencer. He has barely taken it off since Christmas morning. We went to Alameda to check out the lights a few days after Christmas and stopped to get pizza. Graham ate four pieces. And not four “kid size” pieces – real pieces. I am going to be in trouble when he hits his teens.
Megan came to town so I hosted a lunch for her and Sam along with Denise and Lenny and Tracy. I made Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger, Ashley’s amazing Brussels Sprouts Salad (I made this several times over the break and I added pomegranate seeds to it), and a bunch of tartines. My favorite one was topped with a thin omelet streaked with lots of green herbs and topped with harissa.
I cooked and baked a lot. Some old favorites and some new things. I love having large batches of delicious things around the holidays to put in gift bags and also to hand out to the garbage guys and mailman. I had never tried Christmas Crack before but it’s going into regular holiday rotation. It’s about as easy as it gets and totally addictive. I ended up making two huge batches.
This is a dreadful photo of a terrific dessert. I make it every December. It is a chocolate torte – a layer of chocolate cake topped with a mousse, whipped cream, and raspberries.
Enough wonderful food people whose taste I trust have written about this gorgeous cake that I decided it was my turn to try it. A huge hit.
A lovely apple walnut cake from the new Macrina cookbook.
From the same book – a brioche bun with a little fromage blanc mixture in the center. I was really pleased with how they turned out both in looks and taste. Not a quick recipe by any means but not difficult. I’ll share the recipe on Thursday.
My in-laws came to town for the week around New Year’s. We spent some fun days showing off our new area and then took a little trip to Monterey on Randy’s birthday with the boys in tow. The weather could not have been more perfect for a lunch outside and a couple of hours in an incredible park. We stayed in a hotel with a (heated) pool and the boys would have spent the entire night in it if we hadn’t had reservations for dinner at La Bicyclette in Carmel.
We spent the next morning in the aquarium which, if you ever find yourself in Monterey, you really must visit. This was my third visit to that beautiful city and my first time in the aquarium. It is magnificent. I liked these jelly fish the best.
Just a side note. I took this photo on a random street in December. The fact that so many trees still look this way really blows me away. Happy New Year!