Maintaining traditions you love

I don’t believe in continuing traditions for their own sake. (I’m looking at you, oyster stew on Christmas Eve!) But traditions you enjoy are a pleasure to keep alive.

One of those traditions for me is eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. When I was little, my parents would get up, twist open a package of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and pour themselves coffee before we settled in to open our stockings. Licking the icing off my fingers before ripping open my stocking stuffers is a cherished part of Christmas.

This year, I decided to make those cinnamon rolls from scratch. I had baked the America’s Test Kitchen Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Icing a couple times before, and thanks to the lingering effects of jet lag I woke up around 6 AM — plenty of time to bake before everyone woke up!

There’s something very meditative about baking when the house is quiet and you aren’t feeling rushed. And the joy of eating the results (and watching others enjoy the results, too!) was a gift in itself.

A well-stocked spice cabinet 🌶

I am home from a long trip, and that combined with the new year is making me anxious to try some new recipes.

I was catching up on a backlog of Food52 posts when I saw a recipe for Instant Pot Butter Chicken that everyone in the comments was raving about. Ever since I made chicken tikka masala at home I have been wanting to try more home-cooked Indian food, and I’m always interested in making more use of my Instant Pot (which we bought without realizing it was super trendy!). So I’m putting together a grocery list and planning to make this tonight.

I was pleased to see that I already have all the necessary spices on hand. In fact, I have enough spices to fill two racks (they sit on each side of the stovetop) and an entire shelf in the cabinet. What can I say? I like to be prepared. 😉

Spontaneous pizza

This afternoon, we took a break from our work to go for a walk into town. One of our stops was at the grocery store, where my husband (who has a looming deadline) suggested we get a pizza for dinner. Now, our local grocery is wonderfully convenient, but its pizza is only good for dire time-and-energy shortages. I had both time and energy for a bit of cooking, so I vetoed the store-bought pizza and went for some mozzarella cheese and sliced chorizo instead.

After finishing my work, I started the dough (a recipe my brother gave me), chopped some onion and garlic, and set some canned tomatoes to simmer on the hob. Pizza sauce is really rather simple, as long as you’re patient — alliums, tomatoes, herbs. I blitzed it with an immersion blender to get it smooth at the end and that was it. Pat out the dough; add sauce, chorizo, cheese; pop onto the pizza stone for 15-20 minutes. All I added to that was a quick salad and we had a much tastier dinner than we had anticipated while standing in the aisle in front of the pizzas at the store!

Trying new foods

For Christmas, we received a copy of Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I’m super excited to dive in to these recipes — the food in Jerusalem is inspired by so many cuisines, there is a lot to explore. My husband is off at the store now gathering ingredients for lemony leek meatballs, barley risotto with marinated feta, and their basic hummus. Yum!

Finding a new spot

My husband and I both worked from home yesterday. We got to the end of the day, realized we didn’t have groceries for dinner, and decided to go out instead. Eating out mid-week is rare for us, so it felt a little special.

Our friends had told us about a new pizza place nearby, so we decided to check it out. The owner used to run a pizza food truck and opened this place over the summer. He partnered with a local brewery, which means they have my favorite lager, and instead of a knife they serve the pizza with a pizza cutter:

I was impressed by the pizzas (finally, good pizza in our area!) and the atmosphere. Pricier than a frozen pizza from Tesco but an infinitely better experience.


I told myself that I’d make a salad for lunch today. Instead, I made a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich. My husband assured me that I’m having a very healthy peanut, hazelnut, wheat “salad.” He’s so nice to me. 😛