December 2013

T.S. Eliot —
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.
Tuna 790 xxx
photos by george billard

12.27.13 Auld Lang Syne

Oh, the feasting! There is nothing like gathering with friends over an elaborate meal to make spirits soar, especially as the years pass, the relationships deepen and the tradition solidifies. Christmas Eve at Beaver Dam is now something to look forward to every year. The house, with its incredibly high ceilings, skillfully composed lighting and ever-changing array of eclectic furnishings and artwork, is meant for parties and really adds to the festive mood. (Speaking of adding to the festive mood, Susan K, you are the winner of the beautiful caviar spoons! Please send your address to me at The Grand Holiday Gift Extravaganza is now officially over for the season.) This year, we again created a menu of multiple small-plates courses, a la minute cooking that we enjoy eating standing together around the kitchen island, very informal and friendly. This time, we got inspired by the idea of the Feast of the Seven Fishes...except we had a ham. Tomo started things off with perfect little rounds of toast topped with tuna tartare.
Washington Irving —
Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
Caviar 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

12.24.13 Deck the Halls (& the Final Giveaway)

And so we've come to the final installment of the Glutton for Life Grand Holiday Gift Extravaganza. There were nesting bowls; there were caramels; there was the Shizzle with its own salt cellar; there was a collection of 7 cookbooks; there were homemade preserves, which, by the way, are going to Nikki! (Please send your mailing address to, Nikki, so I can get these jars out to you asap.) And now, there are these very beautiful spoons, handcrafted in mother-of-pearl with carved silver accents, that are just the thing to spoon up a little caviar. This time it's a very quick turnaround, so if you'd like to be in the running to win these, just leave a comment below by midnight on 12/26 telling me how you plan to ring in 2014. I'll announce the winner in my last post of the year on the 27th. With the solstice behind us, the countdown to the year's end feels imminent and time is of the essence.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge —
The guests are met, the feast is set.
Gift 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

12.20.13 Suzanne's Soubise (& Yet Another Giveaway!)

Hello, gentle readers, here I am a day late but arriving with more surprises for you! The penultimate giveaway in the Glutton for Life Grand Holiday Gift Extravaganza is the above selection of homemade treats, including gooseberry chutney, apricot preserves and a jar of that pickled cauliflower I was telling you about the other day. Tempting? To be a contender for these 3 jars, all you have to do is leave a comment below by midnight on Monday 12/23. I'll post the winner on 12/24, along with the final giveaway, something truly special and unique. As for the cookbooks, those are headed all the way to Alberta, Canada, to the waiting hands of Celina!

In the meantime, I want to tell you about a fantastic, easy side dish that is the perfect thing to accompany your roast beast, or whatever you're making for your upcoming feasts. It's from the fabulous Suzanne Goin, by way of the possibly even more fabulous Julia Child and if that's not enough to pique your interest, just know it involves onions, rice, cheese and cream but is still rather light and relatively healthy.
Thomas Tusser —
At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.
Books 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

12.16.13 More Holiday Treats (& a Cookbook Giveaway!)

Look at that stack of cookbooks: It's for you! This is the latest installment in Glutton for Life's Grand Holiday Gift Extravaganza. Occasionally, I get review copies of cookbooks I have already bought or pre-ordered for myself, and sometimes my collection just grows to the point of needing a little weeding, though I can scarcely bear to part with any of my tomes. Knowing that these will go to a loving home gives me some relief. Interested? Just leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday the 18th telling me about your favorite cookbook and you'll be in the running to win these 7 books. As for the winner of The Shizzle and accompanying Mirena Kim salt cellar? It's Diane Lindsay. Diane, send your mailing address to me at

The celebratory spirit is reaching a fever pitch, so I have to ak you, Are you having fun? I committed to way too much last week and I came down with the flu. Ugh. I sensed that things were beginning to veer out of control for me and yet I just couldn't slow down. The challenge now is to have compassion for myself rather than seething inside that I am not strong enough or healthy enough or something enough. I'm in my red flannel nightie with my Uggs, gazing forlornly out at the fresh snow, where I wish to be frolicking on snowshoes. For now, I'm trying to focus on visions of dancing sugarplums.
James Beard —
I am still convinced that a good, simple, homemade cookie is preferable to all the store-bought cookies one can find.
Shizzle 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

12.12.13 Cookie Monsters (& a Sizzling Giveaway)

It's really, really hard not to get sucked into the vortex of holiday madness, isn't? Not that you would want to go all Ebenezer and shun celebration entirely but it can be challenging to maintain an even keel when all around you is glitter and tinsel and shopping and champagne. I want to spoil and surprise all my loved ones but I'd rather not buy into the commercialism, and I've found that gifts that come from my own hand feel like a good happy medium. Of course it's a lot of work, and not everyone has the luxury of time, but a little tin of cookies, jar of jam or bag of caramels goes a long way—and think of all the time saved by avoiding crowded malls and freeways! Speaking of caramels, the winner chosen at random to receive the much coveted jar of sea salt caramels is ERICA. Please send your mailing address to me at, Erica! And now, read on for more holiday treats, including today's giveaway...