As the holiday season approaches, I always think, as most people do, more of family past and present. And there is nothing in this world that evokes the presence of those I love like food–the food they loved, or the food they prepared. Chef Michael Chiarello said, “What keeps me motivated is not the food itself but all the bonds and memories the food represents.” and I agree–though the food itself is a pretty good motivator. When I think of the holidays, I inevitably think of my mother, who loved Christmas–loved to decorate, loved to keep up the traditions, and above all loved to cook all the special dishes that the family came to expect. But I also think of my children–my daughter Julie, who shared with me the love of the fragrant zucchini bread that I made every year, who would eat my mother’s spiced peaches until there were none left; and of my son Bryan, with his insistence on pigs in blankets during the opening of the gifts, and the chocolate peanut butter chip cookies that he had to have every year.
This year my daughter and her family will celebrate Christmas together at their own home in Virginia, where I suspect zucchini bread will make an appearance along with new traditions special to their family.
My son and his family will be with us on Christmas Day, so pigs in blankets and chocolate peanut butter chip cookies are already waiting in the freezer.
Yesterday I made gluten-free rolls for Christmas dinner–these are even better than gluten rolls, I think.
I’ve just pulled the flourless chocolate and vanilla marbled cake out of the oven, and it will go into the freezer too.
And last but not least, a few days ago, all alone in the house, I thought about, and missed, my mother while I made her spiced peaches.
Here’s my mother’s spiced peaches recipe. If you make it, take a minute and give a thought to a wonderful lady who loved to make Christmas special.
56 oz. canned peach halves
1 cup vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
2 teaspoons whole cloves
Drain juice from peaches into saucepan. Add vinegar, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Add peach halves. Return to simmer, then remove from the heat and cool. When cool, put the peaches into jars with lids and refrigerate to age. (I usually let these sit in the refrigerator for several days before eating them).