I have been exercising my cooking muscles this holiday season, with a plethora of delicious dishes for my family members. For Thanksgiving, I made delicata squash bisque and apple-cranberry salad with Impossible Pumpkin Pie for dessert, and the soup especially was such a hit that my Aunt wants it to be a new family tradition. When I came home again for Christmas, my mom and I baked up a storm. I was eager to experiment with stevia, and I made some addictive freezer cookies but nothing to write home about — I may give up on cookies in favor of scones, which are easier to play around with and more satisfying (to me, at least). I do, however, recommend this carrot cake recipe and these sublime truffles.
So we baked, watched romantic comedies, gossiped about family, discussed architecture, and gawked at the snow piling up outside. At first we were dancing in it, hiking through it, singing about it (“Snow… snow… snow… snow!” I wish we could all sing like Bing Crosby!), and covering it in maple syrup. Then the snow plows dumped the slush on the sidewalks, and we were trapped inside, save for tentative drives to Pottery Barn by my mom and Sandy.
But Christmas day, everyone started arriving. We had a light breakfast of fruit, yeasty cinnamon buns, and nostalgic date scones, and by the time the sun had set (around 4 pm, grr) the house was warm and buzzing with conversation, rustling with wrapping paper, and humming with ooh’s and thank-you’s. I managed to score a corner spot with Michelle talking about her epic Harry Potter fan-fiction and any potential parallels with the Third Reich, but I also had my first actually-interesting conversation with Grammy — I didn’t know, but she was one thesis away from a Master’s degree in Anthropology! Maybe I can inspire her to find out if her credits are still good. The downside of the evening was having to answer the same question three times in as many minutes from Grandmom, a disturbing reminder that the most adept memory I’ve ever known is finally failing.
I got a ton of soaps, probably the result of people not knowing what else to get someone who’s declared she doesn’t want anything and is vegan. I guess I must reacquaint myself with bar soap, or else do some heavy-duty re-gifting. I didn’t give anything this year, I just made dinner — a light serve-yourself selection of dips* and spreads plus the requisite bread and veggies, as well as roasted red pepper soup and curried apple couscous (except with bulgur wheat instead of couscous). My mom made vegan potato salad, and off to the side were Sandy’s ham and cheesy-potatoes. I never made it to the chocolate wheat-germ bars, but perhaps Grandmom would have forgotten about them anyway… sigh.
The snow cleared enough that my flight to Boston went off without a hitch, and soon I was once again in Thomas’ arms. We spent the few days we had together before he flew back for PSU classes to begin hanging out with his friends, watching movies (I don’t remember Terminator 2 being so violent, though), playing board games (die, Mr. X!), roleplaying (classic D&D, with cute gnome-things to match), with a few moments alone with him to find goodies at LUSH (my hair has never been this good to me) and bake a vegan cake (lemon blueberry, barely sweet and divine).
Everyone’s schedule seems out of whack here, but I love them so! I even enjoy my mornings alone, reading books I find around the house, and spending my afternoons chatting with Rachael (Thom’s mom) and my evenings hanging out with Mary and her friends or being taken out to Zagat-rated restaurants with family members or family friends. I’ve also taken to walking around the Cambridge neighborhoods, with their old-fashioned New England porches and little windows peaking out from still-snowy eves.
I actually had a fever the night I arrived, after feeling under the weather for several days. My mom wanted to know how I ate so healthy and then got sick, but I suspect this sickness was potentially far worse — but when the fever broke at 8 am, I fell back to sleep and woke up at 9:30 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. On the other hand, a tickle has once again appeared in the back of my throat, and I can only hope having the house above 67 degrees will keep the cold at bay. That, plus prodigious amounts of clementines and tea.
I’m also pursuing ideas for post-graduate life. I’m still favoring going to UH School of Architecture, but first spending a year earning residency in Hawai’i so that I can get in-state tuition. This year also gives me a chance to pursue some of my more off-the-wall interests, like vegan cooking or healthy living, or perhaps get my toes wet in sustainable design and architecture. So while I’m here, I’m emailing people I know (and some I don’t know) in hopes of getting some solid ideas for housing and an apprenticeship, internship, or job opportunity. Meanwhile Thomas is pursuing the areas of special education and working with autism. I’m a little anxious about the future, but I think he’s terrified, and perhaps this is horrible, but needing to be stronger makes me feel stronger. I can do this! Right? Right. I’m also going to look at the Harvard Design School while I’m here, just in case.
I hope you all had super holidays, and enjoy the winter ahead! I know I’m done with white Christmases, though… this time next year, you’ll find me in Hawai’i (right? right).
- Follow this recipe with only chickpeas, subbing olive oil for half the tahini, and rice vinegar for the lemon juice (this was the result of a happy accident). The result is the best basic hummus I’ve ever had.