Dear Bakers and Friends,
It’s a most wonderful time of the year! Does that sound like a song? Yes? Because it’s the lyrics of that holiday song and it means it’s also time to bake my favorite things. Ok – enough! Off we go into this newsletter.
Quick business reminder: the two-for-one Black Friday all-recipe-access special goes until midnight on December 31st. So sign up if you like – there’s about four weeks left. Then that’s it for 365 days! Of course if you buy any of my books (cookbooks, poetry or tango memoir) you get a few months free of BB thrown in.
At this time of year, I make a special list among my many lists that is really an index of all the things I’ve accomplished since September 2022 to now. It helps me clearly see where my time went and I can also appreciate that as overwhelmed as I chronically feel, I’ve obviously taken some steps and done something. The list makes me proud because it reveals a lot of completed tasks, goals and inner journey headway. 2023 was a landmark year that embraced several losses but it was also full of getting things done: the diet (slow and steady wins the race), the pesky house fixes, the publication of my tango book, made new friends and/or learned to enjoy more solitude and self-reflection, returned to tango classes (145 classes in all and still counting), sourdough perfecting, and I hosted a dozen amazing book club meetings with authors (mostly) in attendance. No small feat: I slept better this year but that was serendipitous (or a miracle) versus effortful. I also thought about recommitting to my personal wellness regime. Granted, that’s not the same as actually participating in personal wellness but it’s a start.
Listing clarifies where the days went and why I have so little time. There’s a lot of leakage with shows like Only Murders in the Building, reading 2-3 books a week (I do! I just don’t brag about it all the time on Facebook) and puttering with fountain pens, perfume, and music and mostly pursuing my other writing and book projects and tangoing like it’s 1997.
At this point however, my Hanukkah list supplants all else and my thoughts in turn to Hanukkah baking as well as mainstream holiday gift baking. And that’s what this issue of BB is about – my favorite things Hanukkah-style baking which as we know is so early this year. What is it about a culture that has oscillating holiday times? As one comedian once said, we’re always asking, ‘when is Hanukkah or when is Passover this year?” but that’s part of the fun. The answer is usually: this it’s late or this year, it’s early. Happily these recipes are just in time for you to gear up and be prepared. You have whole eight days to spread the joy before you segue into the Christmas and for that too, if check the Recipe Archives, I’ve got you covered with shortbread, panetonne, fruitcakes and more. Plus these Classic Raspberry Thumbprint cookies are a good start to your cookie exchange.
I have to add something historical here on the occasion of Hanukkah 5784. The miracle of Hanukkah wasn’t that the oil needed for the menorah in the new temple lasted eight days which is why we celebrate for eight, happy, cholesterol-filled nights. The miracle was because it took at that time, exactly eight days, to procure and/or manufacture more unsullied oil. The eight days of burning lights with the wee bit of oil that should have last twenty minutes was a serendipitous (or miraculous) timing thing. This notion of timing and waiting makes me think of my annual list of accomplishments but also reminds of something I wrote recently on Instagram as a response to a millennial’s dating woes aka ‘when to text, how much to text’ after a first date. I think what I wrote resonates as we wind down at this time of year and both look behind and look ahead. Here goes:
“Everything has a pace to it. Whether it is music or bread rising, there is space and it’s not just empty, but things germinate there: ponderings, dreams, romantic tension, yearning etc. A really special relationship just like a new friendship takes time to evolve. Smothering it in texts (minutia usually) and constant communication, without leaving any breathing room circumvents probably one of the nicest parts of the journey. Love is a very delicate balance between feeling pursued and met halfway. Love, like life itself, is not a game, but it is a dance”
So go gently into the season ahead and to quote a Kenny Loggins song:
Wait a little while to welcome what you're afterGive it the time to find its way to you And soon as you no longer try, you'll turn and find it standing by your side Come and get it, when you let it, it'll come to you
Free!! Recipe Raspberry Thumbprints
Soufganiot or Hanukkah Jelly Doughnuts
Greek Yogurt Hanukah Rugulah
Hanukah Cut-Out Cookies