Holiday Favorite Things

what a gift…..2 weeks of holiday time. I found myself keeping the festivities simple. Bruce and I had a special Christmas day with my sister on the river. we walked the woods, and Monk, our dog, had the best time running the beach and splashing in the water. We had a potluck dinner with the crowning dessert a date/walnut pudding that our mom used to make every Christmas. Then, we raced to the ferry to make it to The Berni family Christmas, more dessert, homemade berry pie, pecan tarts, and an apricot almond tart. We stayed overnight and went to breakfast, then a nice drive home with Grandma and our nephew Sam.

My friend Eddie and i had practiced making these apricot tarts with a thin layer of almond filling underneath. We used a German type of puff pastry, really easy. It takes some time for the dough to rest. We tried California and Mediterranean dried apricots, and canned, as no fresh were available. To soften the dried ones we slowly poached them with some water and sugar. I let one batch go too long and almost candied them. They were intensely sweet and not what we wanted, which was a certain amount of sweet and tart combined. This is one of the tarts with apricots canned with pear juice.

We spent many evenings at home, just being together and talking about the past year and changes we might make in 2010. this last year was so difficult, and frightening with my mom passing away. when a parent passes there is a kind of shock even when it might be expected. When I look back now I don’t know how I endured and stayed present with her at that time. I was so fortunate to have my sister and husband with me.

These are Monk and Jojo. Jojo is teaching Monk about sharing the couch, perhaps becoming a bit more friendly.

On New Years Eve we went to a wedding reception for good friends. Our gift was a tiramisu that could serve about 50-60. I’ve made this before in 4 tiers. It is tricky to put together because there is no cake inside, just the mascarpone filling so the doweling that separates layers needs to be large to sit on the bottom. The cake cannot be left out of refrigeration for too long because it will soften. As you can see I am a bit out of practice with the buttercream pearls, but the fondant roses and hearts turned out sweet.

As usual I will be the last to take down the lights outside. I take some down after twelfth night, and then leave something until February……I love the colored lights in the dark, the cheerful feeling I have coming home. We all need to do the little pleasurable things…..even if it isn’t “done”. Life is so short my friends. Take good care of yourselves and family. This is what we have. This is what we are here for.

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