Tuesday, December 18, 2012


After Friday's terrible story from Newtown, Connecticut, all I wanted was my family, my kids, my joy. Much of the weekend was spent thinking of and praying for the parents who lost their precious children, as well as feeling this sense of gratitude - as well as guilt for that gratitude - that I had my children with me, safe and sound. I still has moments of exasperation but overall tried to practice a bit more patience when my kids' behavior got nutty.

It was rainy and bleak most of the weekend but Jeremy and I turned up the holidays indoors. We made our annual visit to breakfast with Santa at the Chicago Botanic Garden early Saturday morning, which included a visit to the Wonderland Express. The kids loved the holiday trains; I loved seeing the miniature Chicago landmarks created from natural materials.

Visiting with Santa was an adventure. As we waited in line, Jossie kept making beelines for "San-tie, San-tie." But when it was our turn - and I set my sweet girl down in front of the big jolly man, Jossie burst into tears. When Santa asked her what she wanted, she sobbed, "baby doll."  And big brother Jack was pleased/relieved to hear he was on the nice list before asking for more Legos.

Jeremy's parents and sister arrived in the late morning for a quick weekend visit and a Hanukkah party that night. I'm not sure how it works out this way, but most of the holidays I host are the Jewish ones - Rosh Hashanah, Passover and Hanukkah. And I have to say, I kind of rocked Hanukkah Saturday night - not bad for an Italian Protestant girl. At one point, I believe I went so far as to instruct my Jewish mother-in-law on the making of latkes.

My new favorite nosh with pre-dinner drinks is Ina's rosemary cashews - a hint of heat and a hint of sweet.

Rosemary cashews
From Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home

1 pound cashew nuts
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until they are warmed through. Meanwhile, combine the rosemary, pepper, sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until the nuts are completely coated. Serve warm.

Dinner was latkes, homemade applesauce, rack of lamb, and Brussels sprouts. Dessert was cookies and zucchini bread. It was nice to have this family time - around one table.

I really needed a little holiday.

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