I think this nice, in between time between Christmas and New Years is my favorite part of the holidays. I'm off from work, but everything is done. There's no presents to buy, no cookies to bake, nothing that needs decorating. My husband has some time off, so we get to see movies together and have leisurely, late breakfasts of hot rolls and baked oatmeal. Usually I start futzing around for New Year's Eve celebrations at our house right about now, but my friend Diane is taking that on for us. So I get a nice, quiet week to catch up on housework and other projects.
In the spirit of that, here are some holiday appropriate links.
On the subject of brunch, I read two really great articles about preparing easy holiday brunches. Smitten Kitchen writes what I consider to be the definitive guide to holiday brunching. Her thesis? Easy, make ahead recipes that you can prep ahead of time, then throw in the oven the morning of while you shower. Gayle, of Grocery Cart Challenge fame, also submits some breakfast casserole recipes for holiday brunching in her weekly The Daily News column. While her recipe offerings tend to be a little heavy on the processed foods for my taste, two of these rely on fresh or frozen ingredients, which make them winners in my book.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've seen some interesting links about holiday food drives that I thought I'd share. The first was a recent NYT article about the secret preference that food banks won't tell you about: Cash. But if you think about it, it makes sense. What on earth can they do with three cans of pickled artichoke hearts and a cellophane package of ditalini? We feel good taking cans out of our own pantry to give to those in need, but I think too many use it just as an excuse to dump unwanted food guilt free. There's a really good discussion on Chowhound regarding donations to food banks, that I found to be worth skimming.
For myself, I just cleaned out my pantry on Monday and set aside some cans for donating to the North Fulton Community Charities, a non-denominational non-profit that helps families in North Fulton meet their basic needs. What am I donating? Cans of green beans and creamed corn. Our tastes have shifted after eating farm fresh vegetables all summer and canned veggies just taste like mush to us now. So I have about a dozen or so cans bought before, that are neatly boxed up and waiting for a chance to deliver them. Or it may be time to help my students organize another canned food drive.
And to round things out a bit, here's a couple links from online humor site, Cracked.com. First up, is a great discussion of tipping on the Cracked forums. Personally, I always try to tip at least 20 percent when I go out. I have far too many friends and family who work in food service and rely on tips to be comfortable otherwise. And one of today's feature articles is an examination of useless kitchen gadgets, some of which I'm sure were given or received as gifts this year. I've been mercifully gadget free in my kitchen the last few years, but it's only a matter of time before someone decides I just *need* an automatic donut machine. (Though I will say those pizza scissors look pretty sweet...)