Is it just me, or is anyone else kind of worn out right about now? No really good reason for my frayed edges, since the power outage here in Michigan that has kept a lot of families in the cold didn’t, gratefully, hit home. All is well, everyone is well (when they’re not always, you appreciate when they are), I’m writing a book!, and it’s so good to be cozy Up North with the family.

But as I was saying recently, I’ve needed a loving shoulder shake or two from Mama and whoever else has wanted to get in on the action (my sister) to remember to smell the roses, and not just the rose water, amid my crazy-mode of trying to do too much at once. I’m the Martha of the story, too often.

When I spent the entire day on Christmas Eve and the day before that prepping for Christmas Eve dinner, stopping only long enough to wrap a few gifts and put on a decent outfit, it became clear that something was getting a little outta whack (there was a grand cake to show for it . . . one I will share with you, promise). So there hasn’t been much sleeping in heavenly peace, or finding some essential quiet to allow the gravity and levity of the season’s true joy to sink in. Now here again, I’m already inclined, when time is ever so tight, toward a New Year’s Eve dinner blowout (there is talk of lobster and its bisque, of sauced-up tenderloin and fried onions, talk of baked Alaska. The voice saying these things is my own. See?).

Changing ourselves–growing–is not easy, which is why we have to keep resolving to do it every year right about this time (and a lot more often than that, if we’re really digging in).

Maybe I’ll start early, maybe I’ll start right now, and maybe I’ll start simply, in the kitchen, where I seem to experience so many of my game-changing moments, for the better.

A New Year’s Eve Menu
of good, simple things to eat with a glass of bubbly

Warm citrus olives
From Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, simply snug a variety of olives tightly in one layer in a small baking dish. Castelvetrano olives dress it up beautifully. Include a few curls of lemon and orange zest, a couple of peeled garlic cloves, a bay leaf, a rosemary stem, a splash of wine and quality olive oil. Cover and bake at 350⁰F for 20 minutes or until warmed through. Serve with a bright wedge of ricotta salata or feta, and crackers.


 Honey-glazed almonds


Za’atar kale chips

 Red pepper-walnut dip (muhammara)

Spinach fatayar


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