Cooking by blog

If, like me, you’re at all in New Year’s Resolution limbo, it feels like the rest of your life is on hold until you can make up for the excesses of December. For myself, that means shedding weight, resuming an exercise regime, and being more moderate in the happy hour department.

Do I badly miss December and all of its treats?

I badly do.

However, I can say I feel better, and I now have more than one pair of pants that fit. My ancient bootcut-style yoga tights are relieved.

To what can I get the credit? Amazingly, food blogs have come to my rescue.

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A new tradition in January

It’s the time of year where it’s best to just stay put and wait it out, am I right? It’s cold, but snowless. Christmas is over and thinking about it kind of makes you need a shot of Pepto. And January is one long month. Really, the most we can do is hang on until Groundhog Day, Valentine’s and St. Patty’s Day, which are, if we’re honest, really B- and C-list holidays at best. I mean, you don’t even get the day off.

But! I have the solution. It’s called Sequence and I prescribe playing it on a daily basis.

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My loss is my gain

When you’ve gained seven pounds in less than a month, you know you’ve had a heck of a good time in December. And, dear readers, I’m here to tell you I did. My lighthearted days were filled with everything delicious: cheese biscuits, cream cheese, bagels and lox, pierogi, meat pie, bread, bread and more bread, stuffing, fudge, thumbprint cookies, rice pudding.

And, of course, a whole mountain (Rocky-style, not Smokies) of mashed potatoes and gravy. I’ve actually thought about writing an entire column about just how much I love the combo, an ode that would begin, “To my greatest love of all.” In fact, this past month, I actually conducted an experiment to see whether or not I would tire of ‘taters by eating them nearly exclusively for every meal for five days.

I suppose I can say the experiment was a success since I was able to come to a conclusion. Which was that I didn’t. Tire of them, I mean. In fact, I could have a big plate of them right now.

Of course, now that it’s the beginning of January, it’s time to get real with these seven pounds, which, let’s face it, join the four from Thanksgiving that I never shed.

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Easy, Christmasy recipes

With Gabrielle away at college and our nest decidedly empty, this Christmas season has required adjustment. We’ve managed by introducing new traditions into the fold. We have two Christmas trees, instead of one. The advent calendar is filled with love poems instead of scavenger hunt clues. We’ve hosted old friends in small gatherings whom we haven’t seen for far too long. And every day, I have opened my Instagram and taken a look at the cookie recipe posted by the editors of the New York Times’ cooking section (@nytcooking).

They post a different one every day in December, and, if you check each day, it’s like an advent calendar of its own, with the photos beautiful enough to feel like a gift.

Of course, I haven’t made any — in part because I’m waiting for Gabrielle to come home, but in part because I’ve realized that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate to feel festive. With William’s full endorsement, in fact, I’ve cooked more simply than I ever have before and it’s reminded me of the beauty of a 15-minute recipe.

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Be vocal; shop local

“What a week! My heart is warmed by the incredible stream of people that have been through the doors of my business, buying their Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, treats for themselves — and telling me of their mission to shop local. I know it’s a cool and trendy hashtag we all use and talk about, but you truly just do not know how real this is and how important it is unless you’re a small business owner, dependent every day on that community support to keep the doors open. It is so appreciated! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

This was a note I saw on Facebook last week from one Tammy Martin Hoehler, owner of The Mole Hole in Somerset. The gift store is somewhat of an institution here, opened in 1995 and taken over by Hoehler in 2012. It’s a darling, lime-hued store filled with fabulous finds, from sassy dish towels to to-die-for Christmas ornaments to picture frames to deluxe serving ware to chocolates to candles that, somehow, smell better than anything in real life.

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Owen Charles Lewis saves the day

I’ll start this week’s blog post with a tiny recap of last week’s. I was standing in my kitchen pinching my bleeding, loosely-bandaged finger and holding it over my head. An hour before, I’d sliced a big chunk of it off, and I now had less than an hour before 16 women were set to arrive for a Friendsgiving meal, which I’d insisted I would single-handedly make myself.

Single handed, indeed.

However, just then, my friend Sarah, who is a doctor, walked into the kitchen ready to assess my finger. And she’d brought along her son, Owen.

Owen Charles Lewis is the kind of kid who never greets you without a hug. Years ago, he christened me T-Rex, and T-Rex I’ve been ever since. Most recently, Owen Charles Lewis, newly 11, has decided to take up the art of cooking.

And upon learning of my predicament, he immediately offered his services.

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The dogs didn’t eat my homework (but they did eat)

I had spent the past few days preparing a Friendsgiving for 16 women, pleasurable hours imagining a fun, relaxed evening that would include boisterous conversation, a golden turkey, fluffy potatoes, citrusy cranberries, pumpkin tart and maybe even a little bit of dancing.

It was about two hours before everyone was set to arrive when this thought crossed my mind: “I must actually be getting to the point where I know what I’m doing. In fact, this really isn’t a very hard meal to pull off if you plan ahead.”

Famous last words.

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Friends are the family you choose

Yesterday, I will have hosted Friendsgiving.

Har har; I love funny time tenses.

To explain, I’m writing this on a Tuesday, the meal will be Thursday, but my blog will post this Friday, which is when it gets to you.

This year, nearly 20 girls will be at the table, ladies whom I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting as part of our neighborhood group, the Gin & Juice Club. We get together about once a month, and it’s one of those gatherings that I always look forward to attending before arrival and feel happy about and comfortable with after getting home.

Women will tell you that is not always the case with girl get-togethers, which can start with dread but end up being good, or start with anticipation but go horribly wrong.

This is because women are very, very complicated.

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Are those dogs in your car?

It was a purchase that only occurred because I cleaned out the junk drawer.

No, not because I was rewarding myself for the spiffing — though, now that I think on it, that does merit some type of remuneration.

It was because I found the $50 Amazon gift card in the midst of the purge, a shiny little find that made me realize that the purchase was meant to be.

So I traipsed — oh yes, I did traipse — to the dining room and hopped — oh yes, I did hop — online. And there I spent the next 45 minutes reading reviews on doggie car seats, two of which I subsequently bought.

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