Smells can come from a variety of sources during the holidays, and they aren’t always from just flowers.
I know our home isn’t the only one that wafts with numerous fragrances around this time of year and more than likely, those fragrances aren’t the floral kind.
Sure, there are the poinsettias and the cyclamens and the amaryllis that have faint floral smells, but the fragrances I’m referring to aren’t of the floral family, they are the culinary ones that catch our attention.
What household can get through the holidays without at least one batch of fresh-baked cookies? Usually (in my case) it is numerous batches for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day get-togethers with all the family, or in some cases, friends.
My wife stands over a hot stove all day long (I know she loves it) making a variety of her old-fashioned works of art that are family favorites.
Our children and the grandchildren (now older than 40) will make short work of them on Christmas Eve when we host our yearly celebration. If I’m lucky enough, she’ll break a few cookies that I’ll have to test with a hot cup of coffee to make sure they are acceptable for the rest of the family (smirk).
It never ceases to amaze me how often this tradition is passed down from generation to generation. Mothers love to gather their children and even grandchildren to the kitchen to teach them the culinary art of cookie baking. The children love cutting out the different shapes of animals, trees, wreaths and more, and watching their work develop in the oven into edible, luscious creations with a few colored sprinkles, randomly placed candies, or a chocolate kiss pressed in the center to finish the project. Talk about family fun!
While cookies are one of the larger undertakings in the kitchen during the holidays, they are by no means the only one.
Other aromas emitted from the kitchen include the main-course meat, which in my case is pulled pork or chicken, double-cheese macaroni and cheese, a California-blend baked dish, numerous pies and much more.
I spent 35 years in the grocery business and around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, it is no secret that the baking aisle is the busiest. It is so busy that it is literally hard to keep everything in high demand stocked.
Each year there were always a couple of items you would run out of that were impossible to replace — not necessarily because you didn’t reorder them, but because warehouses simply ran out and the supply was gone.
Once this happened it turned into a domino effect because people would go from store to store to store until everyone ran out. It was fast and furious and no matter how hard you tried to keep things well-stocked, it seemed there were always those two or three items that disappeared quickly.
Specific spices seem to always be a problem. They are usually the ones that aren’t used any other time except for certain holiday recipes.
Here is an example: not many cooks know what beau monde spice is. It is used in a recipe of my wife’s and can only be found in one of the stores we frequent. There are other examples as well that have strange names that are equally hard to find when you need them.
Tom Yoder is a Master Gardener who resides in Goshen. He can be reached by phone at 533-0172 or by email at [email protected].
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