Pressure Busting Tip #16
For years and years my sister Patti, mother St. Patsy, and I used to hold what we called the yearly Bake-Off at my house during the first week of December. I'd take the day off of school for it, and Patti would schedule her day off from the bank. St. Patsy was just damn happy to be there any old day. I'd get all my supplies out: cooky sheets, mixers, bowls, flour, sugar, nuts, and all the other necessaries the night before. Patti and Mom would, too, but they'd pack them all up in boxes and load them into their cars. They'd drive over to my house by eight or nine in the morning, and we'd start mixing dough for Christmas cookies. Most times, one or all of us would have at least one type of cookie dough already mixed and ready to go into the oven. We did not believe in wasting time, especially oven time. All the batches were tripled, and all of us made whatever we wanted. St. Patsy always made her more traditional Old World cookies, left over from the days of making Croatian recipes for Dad and the aunts. We baked and mixed and talked and laughed. We started having Themed Bake-Offs when we had one Bake-Off on Pearl Harbor Day. One year, so many things kept going wrong, and we kept reassuring each other that "It was okay." That was our Stuart Smalley Bake-Off. We'd break at noon and I'd go get Chinese food for lunch. And all along, we'd save the Mistake Cookies so that when Jared and Sam came home, they could have them for a snack. We had a great time.
Little by little, life would get in the way. Patti would have to leave early for an appointment or a kid emergency. One year, I was too seriously ill to have the Bake-Off. Another year, there simply wasn't a day we all could do it together. Finally, we all realized that we were giving away the cookies instead of eating them. None of us was really eating that many sweets anymore. The Bake-Off days were, sadly, over. Of course, the person that misses them most is St. Patsy. But she really did used to make far too many cookies and nut rolls and poppyseed rolls and butterballs and nut horns and cheese rolls and...see what I mean? And then Patti would make four kinds of cookies and I would make four kinds plus my Christmas cake and pretty soon it was Cooky Armageddon. NO ONE can eat that many cookies, ever. Plus Susan and her pastry chef husband Paul would bring approximately eleven thousand cookies as well. It was overwhelming. And a little shameful. Pressure Busting Tip #16 reminds me of the wise words of Coco Chanel who said, "The last thing you should do before you go out the door is glance back at yourself in the mirror and take something away." Streamline and simplify your holiday meal, especially if it is a buffet. I'm also going to steal a line from the movie Sabrina and say as a backup here, "Sometimes more isn't better; it's just more." Stick with just a couple of tried-and-true, very good dishes, and add very little. Once in a while, add back a heretofore missing dish, but take something else away. People are there for the food, yes, but it's the fellowship, mostly. They will eat, but not as much as you think. Don't you always have plenty? Make easy things that are easy to keep warm or cold, easy to eat, and that you make well. If anyone wants to bring something, and you'd be okay with it, tell them, "Bring your specialty! Or, just bring yourselves. I have everything. We're having a simple dinner." Then do that, and enjoy it!
tiny horn image