CHRISTMAS BAKING, DECORATING, ETC
So, Rhode Island! In case you didn't know, Rhode Island is a state -- not an island, not Long Island, just the smallest state in the U.S -- and is where my brother and sister and I were born and raised. I tend to do a lot of relaxing when I'm home -- the main activities include sleeping late, catching up on TV, cooking and baking, and spending time with my family. If I'm home for the holidays we tend to fit in a lot of Christmas traditions leading up to the big day (cookie decorating! tree decorating! viewing of Home Alone! listening of Elvis Christmas Album! etc) We take Christmas decorations in particular quite seriously, and decorate both inside the house and out (see photos below!) The crowning jewel in all holiday decorations is Snow Village, a little ceramic Christmas village my mom started collecting about 20 years ago. As you can see our collection has grown over the years expanding from one little table to about three big tables.
The kitchen at my parents' place is far nicer than the kitchen in my apartment in Rome -- lots of counter space, plus a double oven and a dish washer -- so its always a pleasure to bake and cook while home. This year, as per tradition, I baked up some Shortbread Cookies -- recipe here -- to be decorated by my brother, sister-in-law, sister, cousin, and me. On hand was also some homemade hot cocoa mix -- recipe here! -- to wash down all the cookies. In other food related news, I've also been enjoying reading American Cake by Anne Byrn (an early Christmas gift from my sister) which provides an extensive history of cakes from the 1770s-present, plus corresponding recipes. I only wish it were smaller so I could bring it with me on my commute every morning in Rome.
LA SALETTE + DAD'S BIRTHDAY
My dad's birthday usually coincides with the day I return, which I think is the nicest gift he could receive (haha!) After having a birthday lunch at my Nonna Ada's house (read more about her here) who still manages to whip up incredible multicourse meals at the age of 88, we headed to La Salette, in Attleboro, Massachusetts. La Salette is the national shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, in France -- still not sure why their is a shrine in Massachusetts, will have to google that -- and every year they set up an extraordinary light festival, open for Christmas from late November to early January. If you need a break from the cold, there is also La Salette's International Creche Museum -- very cool! -- and stands selling hot cocoa, cider, and fried dough, and s'mores (cozy!!)
No time at home is complete without a little time spent with this guy, Snoopy, our adopted senior beagle, rescued from the shelter 5 years ago. Snoopy (who is also referred to as Kokosnuss, The Toasted Marshmallow, or simply "Snoo") is coddled and spoiled by the whole family (his bed just might be nicer than mine). If you're not a dog person or animal fan, just indulge me:
And with that I'd like to wish everyone a very happy holiday filled with lots of good food! I'll be back next week with a few New Year's recipes -- Merry Christmas to all/Buon Natale a tutti!!!