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On Your Marks, Get Set…BAKE!

As a person who LOVES to eat and is an avid home baker, December is one of my favorite times of year. Through all the hectic and busy holiday goings-on, I always make time to prepare at least a few special holiday treats.

When we speak of holidays, not just the winter holidays but any holidays, we always talk about what’s on the menu or our favorite family recipes that are made with love every year on that occasion. My family is a typical New York style Italian-American family and Christmas Eve is always a biggie for us. When I think of Christmas and December, I think of spending countless nights in the kitchen with my mom, sister, aunt, and grandma making struffoli, anisette cookies, Italian butter cookies, and gingerbread men. When the time would come to decorate the gingerbread men, Dad would be called in to join in the character creation.  And there would always be a special night where Dad and I would sit in the kitchen together to make my absolute favorite treat – rum balls.

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Times have gotten busier and family members have moved away, but my mom, sister, grandma, and I still get together every year for our struffoli marathon and it is always a night filled with much arguing and much more laughter.

About 4 years ago, I fell in love with baking as a regular hobby and my repertoire has grown. This repertoire expansion is largely thanks to The Great British Baking Show and the wealth of food blogs the internet has to offer. My favorite go-to blog for recipes of all kinds is Sally’s Baking Addiction. Sally’s recipes never fail and, even if I don’t follow them to a tee, they are always the perfect place to start when creating something entirely my own. In addition, our library has a lovely collection of baking books that offer delicious recipes (as expected), as well as comprehensive baking techniques and tips.

I hope this has mustered up joyous baking-related memories of your own and has you feeling ready to tackle the approaching holiday season with a mix of old and new treats to enjoy and share. Now, in the words of the late, great Julia Child, “This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to [bake]—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun” (Child and Prud’homme 532).

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From Jaimie’s Kitchen to Yours

By Jaimie A. Albanese

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