IMG_3211I found this vintage Christmas card on ebay.  It’s printed on parchment-like paper, and I think it’s really charming with its crisp graphics and old-fashioned font.

I had hoped to get this post up before Christmas.  I also hoped to get my own Christmas cards out before Christmas.  But as far as I’m concerned, the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve is all “the holiday season,” so operating on that theory, this post and my cards are timely.  My card recipients will likely note that my cards are a tad late this year, but will hopefully forgive my tardiness and smile when they see the pictures of my family (including the dogs).  Just as I forgave the folks whose cards arrived the day after Thanksgiving (show-offs!).

Unilke the vintage Christmas card, nearly every card we receive these days is a photo card.  For me, nothing marks the passage of time quite like these Christmas cards.  It’s  remarkable to see our friends’ kids grow — from adorable infants, to gangly metal-mouthed teens, to proud graduates, and even spouses and parents (we have been at this quite a while now).  Christmas jammies, beach photos in flowing white garb, exotic locations, infants in crocheted hats — I love them all.

Getting a ”Christmas card photo” has not always been easy–in fact the past two years we wound up using a collage.  My all-time favorite card was the very first one we sent out.  My daughter was 8 months old, and I put her in her fancy smocked Christmas dress, took her to the garden center, and plunked her down in the middle of the poinsettias:


Christmas cards are just one of the many holiday traditions I look forward to every year.  One tradition, however, that I never was able to get going was the family outing to pick out a Christmas tree.  The kids have never expressed any interest in it, and the task is usually left to me and my husband.  For about a decade we had an artificial tree, which no one complained about, but for the past few years we’ve gone back to live trees.  This year we pulled a fast one on my son, and started out with a trip to Best Buy so he could pick out some computer items for Christmas, kind of like taking the dog to the park before dropping him off at the vet.  Leaving the store, he noticed we were taking a different route, and said, “Hey, where are we going?”  I said, “to the vet,” which I thought was hilarious and my son did not.  In fact, we were headed to the garden center to pick out a Christmas tree — oh, the horror of having to accompany us.  So while he stood there texting his friends, my husband and I picked out a tree.  Ah, the stuff memories are made of.

Like everyone else, many of our holiday traditions center around food.  We always have Christmas dinner at my sister-in-law’s, who does a great job of coordinating everything.  This year she floated the idea of doing something other than our traditional dinner — maybe Mexican?  After talking to her parents, she informed us that “no new ideas would be entertained this year.”  Nice try, Liz!  So we had our traditional dinner, centered around beef tenderloins that my husband grilled perfectly, and it was familiar and delicious.  To accompany the beef, I always make Horseradish Whipped Cream — a double batch so that there are leftovers for my father-in-law to enjoy at home in the following days.  Inspired by the vintage Christmas card and other holiday traditions, I’m sharing the recipe for Horseradish Whipped Cream.  It is a great accompaniment to beef, rich and tangy, and if you use a fresh jar of horseradish, it might just clear your sinuses.


Recipe type: Sauces and Condiments
  • ¼ cup prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except whipping cream. Pour whipping cream into a medium bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Whisk in horseradish mixture. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Where’s the beef? 


Horseradish Whipped Cream nestled up to beef tenderloin

And how do we keep our balance?

Because of our traditions

We’ve kept our balance for many, many years

[W]e have traditions for everything

How to sleep.  How to eat.  How to work.  How to wear clothes.

*      *      *     *     *     *

And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is

And what God expects him to do.

Tevye, in Fiddler on the Roof.



We’re finally enjoying some cold weather, and looking forward to the holidays.  This is a great time to hit the farmers market, when there are so many more interesting offerings than during the dry, hot summer months.  Here’s a salad plate I made for my husband (trying to offer him something healthy after one of his bike rides), using some leftover duck confit, espresso-rubbed cheese, and seasonal produce from the farmers market.  Pretty, isn’t it?

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There’s watermelon radishes, pomegranate arils, arugula sprouts, and dried figs:

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and persimmons, baby mustard greens with a sweet lemon vinaigrette, and slivers of candy-striped chioggia beets:

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We only recently discovered the fuyu persimmons, and we’re crazy about them.  When they’re first ripe, they’re firm and crunchy, with a taste like a combination of apple and carrot.  As they ripen, they become slightly softer, but develop this wonderful sweet honey-like flavor.

This year, for the first time since 1918, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving overlap, with the second night of Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving.  This won’t happen again until November 27, 2070.  Just for fun, I made some “Hanukkah cookies” to celebrate what is being dubbed “Thanksgivukkah.”  I added chopped blue maraschino cherries and a little almond extract to shortbread cookie dough.



 These cherries are REALLY blue

I dipped the edges in melted white chocolate, then dipped the coated edge in blue and white sparkling sugar.


Cherry Almond Shortbread cookies for Hanukkah

If I made these again, I’d probably brush the entire circumference of the cookie with a thin coat of white chocolate and then dip the edges in the sparkling sugar.  I think that would be a prettier cookie.  I might give it a try with red and green cherries and sugars for Christmas.

Although I’m not cooking for Thanksgiving this year, I couldn’t let the holiday pass without making a batch of Fresh Cranberry Relish.  I was introduced to this recipe by my mother-in-law, and I love the freshness of the ingredients and the sweet/tart pop of flavor, not to mention the beautiful color it adds to the Thanksgiving plate.  I like to process each ingredient separately, but my husband’s family processes them all together.  I also tend to prefer mine a little sweeter than they do.  The beauty of the relish is that it is easily adaptable to everyone’s personal taste.


Recipe type: Sauces and Condiments
  • l large Honeycrisp apple (or favorite apple), cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium orange, seeded and coarsely chopped, including peel
  • ½ pound fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup pecans, or to taste
  • ⅓ cup sugar, or to taste
  1. Place apple in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer apple to a medium bowl. Repeat with orange, cranberries, and pecans, processing each separately and then transferring to bowl with apple. Add sugar and mix until all ingredients are combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



IMG_3050Cranberry Relish gets gobbled up fast!