The Obligatory New Year's Post... With FOOD!

2011 was not a great year, for me.  There was a good deal of "manning up" and "getting through it".  Heat and rest helped heal the neck strain earned via keeping my f@*king chin up.  Worn out big girl panties were replaced and put away for another time.  (A hopefully FAR into the future time.)  And joy, every fleeting glimpse of it, was grabbed onto and hugged hard.  Like an addict's last fix.  Or a kindred spirit seen too rarely.  Or a mother setting off on an unknowable adventure....

But you know?  It was educational.  I learned a lot about myself and about my family.  I came to truly appreciate gratitude, and I achieved things I had never thought possible.  I refused "impossible".  And found good friends in person and online whose encouragement, support and laughter lent invaluable perspective to my journey.  I hope I was able to do the same, at least for some.

So, really, it was a pretty good year.  Right?

Right.  Let's eat!

Baklava

These sweet, sticky, buttery, rich treats are deceptively small.  I plunked three on my plate after polishing off half a steak, a stack of roasted veggies, and a bit of potato....  Yeah.  If you haven't had them before, each of these is about two inches across.  Phyllo pastry is layered with butter and light syrup (made from sugar or honey and lemon juice), and then stuffed with ground dates, pistachios, almonds or roasted peanuts before baking.

Oh.  My.  God.

Foolishly, I polished off the first one in two quick bites.  Bit into the second one.  And then had to take a forty-minute digestion break to prevent the reappearance of all of that glorious food.  Eat these.  They're delicious!  But maybe just have one....

Camembert

Camembert tastes quite a lot like brie, in my profoundly uneducated opinion.  Served at room temperature, it isn't quite as soft, a bit saltier, but goes really well with fresh grapes or a bit of wine.  My daughter (our resident cheese-head) had a taste and then set it aside.  "It tastes like soap, Mum!"

Okay, then.

Candy Cane Blossoms and Rice Flour Shortbread

Do you have a friend who bakes?  No?  I strongly suggest you get one.  My friend FW (of the delicious Amish Church Sugar Drop Cookies) brought these over for me my family and they lasted exactly twelve minutes.  The Candy Cane Blossoms come from this recipe, if you're still feeling festive.  Soooo good!  Not too sweet, not too minty, and just the perfect cheek-stuffing mouthful for guilt-deferred holiday gluttony.

And the shortbread?  I don't like shortbread.  Ours always came in a jolly tin with a lengthy list of toxic ingredients and allergy warnings on the side.  I am a changed woman, people.  Seriously.  Get yourself a friend who bakes.

Semisweet Chocolate Coconut Bark and Oreo Cheesecake Truffles

My husband made these.  No, I'm not joking.  We generally don't buy each other Christmas gifts, instead employing the minds of our wee evil geniuses to come up with something meaningful and/or hilarious.  And then we try to get them to keep it secret until Christmas Day, using such methods as outright dishonesty, bribery and extortion.  (We are ALL about the family values around here!)  This year, the kids told Mike they wanted to get me chocolates.  And Mike, my beloved, decided that meant they were going to make me chocolates.

And, ohmyGAWD, did those chocolates turn out.

Danica and Shelton were fully involved in the process, from using the double boiler to running the food processor, to dipping the sticky "truffles" in melted chocolate.  (*swoons*)  AND they managed to keep the secret until right before I opened the box.  I am a very lucky girl!

Rice Pudding

Kozy Shack pudding got me through my final year of university and two pregnancies.  I am loyal to Kozy Shack pudding.  Especially the cooked chocolate pudding that has that yummy scalded cream flavour and artery-clogging 100% natural real pudding ingredients.  But this?  Yeah, no.  Having never had rice pudding before, I went for the cinnamon-raisin kind.  It looks like porridge, right?  And I do enjoy cinnamon and raisins in my porridge....  Fail.  That is, unless you're craving especially gritty egg-nog with raisins in it.

After supper one evening, I could only manage a taste.  But for breakfast, it actually wasn't too bad.  I had a big bowl with my coffee and found it fairly satisfying.  But still.  Don't buy Kozy Shack rice pudding.  Go visit Celi and make your own.  Hers is MUCH better.  (And I love the story she wrote to go with it.)

That's twenty-seven new foods, my friends.  And I've got a folder packed with photos from our Winter Break face-stuffing adventures to share with you over the week.  (Soon to be followed by athletic adventures for both mediating sanity and dealing with that pesky post-gluttony thigh-rub.)  Woot!

May your 2012 bring you good food, the gentlest of education and an excess of breathtaking joy.  Happy New Year!

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