A Long and Busy December

Kathy Hester

A Long and Busy December

I think December is simultaneously the most loved and most dreaded month of the year. Fun parties, cookie exchanges, and spending time with people you love makes it a magical month. But running around shopping in the midst of huge cranky crowds and not having enough time to do everything you need to do creates a ton of stress.

This year, I’m letting go of perfectionism and the holy grail of getting everything just right. Instead, I want to enjoy the moments with friends, make a dozen cookies that don’t look like they came from a factory, and whip up some rustic gluten-free noodles in addition to a few DIY kitchen gifts.

Of course, I still want to have those cookies taste great because crunching on a few Crispy Citrus Rosemary Cookies before a cookie swap is probably the closest thing I’ll have to blissful relaxation all month. There’s nothing to be sad about when contemplating a burst of citrus flavor in a cookie that has some cornmeal snuck in for extra crunch. The piney rosemary flavor tastes like winter to me because it’s always the last producing herb in my garden.

December can also have some lulls between parties and shopping days. When you find yourself with one of those openings, I highly recommend sitting in front of the fireplace with a warm bowl of hearty stew. That’s where my second recipe comes in: Winter Garden Quinoa-Flax Noodle Soup. If you are settled in on a cold day, making the quinoa-flax noodles are both fun and easy. Children will enjoy making the thick, healthy noodles and eating them later. The noodles are free of eggs, gluten, oil and soy, so they fit into many special diets. Feel free to substitute your favorite pasta in place of the homemade noodles if you don’t have the extra time. The stew is full of mushrooms, rutabaga, Brussels sprouts, and carrots. It’s has a Slavic touch with caraway seeds, dill, and a dollop of vegan sour cream. All you need to do is add in the quinoa-flax noodles near the end of cooking, and it’s ready to serve. I’d suggest finishing up the month with a steaming hot bowl of this stew in front of the window and watching the snow. It’s the perfect transition into the calm that January will bring.

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