Holiday Food Saved My Life

Cousin Sage really likes Lebanon bologna

As I traveled to Dallas and then Iowa for my Christmas holiday celebrations (yes, I am a jetsetter), I had a lot of time on my hands to think about my family and how it sometimes seems, because they are spread out all over the country, that the holidays turn me into one big ball of nerves. All the travel can turn Shanny a little crabby.

But as I watched one of my favorite movies of all time, A Christmas Story, with my brother on Christmas Eve (Ralphieeeee!!!), helped my mom and grandma in the kitchen, and told jokes with my dad, I find that all the travel, all the hassle to get back to see everyone - it's all worth it. And the common ground between all of us is the food. It brings everyone together and for me, is such a comfort. I may only make it home twice a year but when I do, I hop right back into the kitchen with my mom, like I've never left. And for that, I am grateful! Here are some of the delicious meals and treats that we worked on for this Christmas celebration.

A crudite spread on a cowboy hat platter. Yee haw!

Roasted squash seeds with truffle-salt and mom's famous herb cheese. It gives you intense garlic breath.

A classic mirepoix - which when sauteed, served as the flavor base for the homemade chicken noodle soup that my mom always makes for my grandpa.

Tomato-Wine Soup. Seriously one of the favorite things that my mom makes. While I can't disclose her exact recipe, for fear of being disowned, it's buttery tomato base is enhanced by a lot of white wine and herbs. Simple and amazing.

A graham cracker crust for a cheesecake (see below) resting, next to some hollowed out butternut squash.

The finished cheesecake - beautiful.

The squash insides - soon to be pureed into a delicious butternut squash soup. Secret ingredient? Pears!

Mom's Turkey Meatloaf, with brown sugar glaze. Don't tell grandpa it isn't beef.

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