Reflections: Gastronomical Pleasures

Even though we love our children dearly, Dear Hubby and I have actually adapted quite nicely to empty nest syndrome.  (Shhhh!)  So, when our boringly quiet household suddenly grew to ten of us over the holidays, we couldn’t help but notice a few food-related changes as a result.  Among our observations:

  • The dishwasher runs constantly—who knows how many loads per day?
  • There are 4 (yes, four) different kinds of milk in the refrigerator.
  • Leftovers take over the wine fridge.
  • The granddog knows where to hang out—under the dining room table—while Scout the Cat hides under the bed.

Family getting together over the holidays also brought plenty of fun times, as well as gastronomical pleasures.  Here are a few of this year’s favorites:

Kid activity:  the 6-year-old and 4-year-old cut out cookies and load sprinkles on gooey icing

Present:  Scout’s catnip ball from Pins and Needles (xo @Diane Vallere)—you can see the video on my FB page:

Tradition:  reading Christmas cards at the dinner table recalls dear friends and family

Appetizer:  Cheese-Olive Balls (an oldie but goodie)

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 ¼ cups flour

½ cup butter, melted

about 36 pimiento-stuffed olives

Work cheese and flour together until crumbly.  Add butter and mix well with hands.  Mold 1 teaspoon dough around each olive.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, chill at least 1 hour, bake at 400 degrees 15-20 minutes.

And, speaking of food, I contributed the recipe for “Procrastinator’s Bread” in this cookbook of recipes/essays by writers, recently released for the holidays:


Family always makes any holiday special for me.  Now festivities are slowly winding down along with our numbers.  Decorations are being dismantled and packed away.  Schedules are returning to a normal routine of exercise, work, and reduced gluttony.  I am left with a cozy fireplace, a cup of hot cocoa, and memories to warm my soul.

How about you?  What makes your holidays special?

9 thoughts on “Reflections: Gastronomical Pleasures”

  1. Holidays mean food and family. This year I baked 20 dozen cookies. They lasted much longer than I anticipated (what with a tweenage boy and my brother-in-law in the house for two weeks). 🙂


  2. Wow, this is a cornucopia of goodness! Love the video of Scout and the catnip toy! We do make Christmas cookies too–and sitting around icing those with the kids is one of the highlights every year. Especially because it is our tradition to name each and every work of art as it is iced…we usually end up laughing so hard that we can’t breathe. Good times.


  3. 20 dozen cookies?? Wow, that’s impressive!

    Diane, Scout definitely needed the exercise of chasing her catnip toy, although it didn’t seem to burn off any of her extra pounds.

    Cynthia, if you name your cookies, how can you bear to eat them?


  4. We love baking, too, Sue! My mom and I always make our family recipe for scones and eat them on Christmas. We weren’t together this year, but we both made them separately. That’s a LOT of butter. Haha.


  5. Sue, you are intuitive…it’s true that the one with the most ridiculous names tend to be eaten last. Sometimes with unfathomably great pomp and circumstance, wherein we are all summoned to the kitchen to witness the event…though usually it’s just an announcement (“Hey everyone, I’m going to eat Mr. Poky Eyes Tornado Head now.”)


  6. Now I’m hungry, but still at the office, darn it! Thanks for sharing the recipe–I love olives! Munchkin and I usually make cookies (that’s our go-to teacher gift, hostess gift, donation to family gathering, etc.), but this year we didn’t really have time. We made ONE batch of cookies and one batch of dog treats. Somehow, it just didn’t feel like the holidays without all the baking. Love the stories, ladies! (Bastet loved her catnip toy, Diane!)


  7. Love your descriptions. And cheese olive balls are definitely on my next holiday menu. I come from a small family, as a child holidays were full of family, but oddly enough, most of my aunts and uncles had one or no children so we are a small group now and far flung. So to me, holidays mean my family of friends. We always have an open house and everyone is invited, along with friends of everyone. I routinely cook for 20 and folks are welcome when ever they arrive. It’s a fun way to spread holiday cheer.


  8. Oooh, I love scones, Sarah! Would love your recipe!

    Cynthia, I am not even going to ask how you came up with such a name!

    Same here, Pamela. With so many cooks in the kitchen, we ended up not baking as much, either.

    Kait, even though I have a large family, they don’t live near me, and so we usually adopt our friends, too. So important!


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