Crave and Cook: Home Cooking During the Holidays

Home cooking during the holidays: recipes and advice from a Belgian mother in a California kitchen.When I cook for my family I try to be mindful of everyone’s different taste while making sure to provide the opportunity of getting out of their comfort zone. Trying to teach my kids to be adventurous and open to new cuisine and flavor variety is a driving force for me. A few years ago, we moved from Belgium to Los Angeles. With Whole Foods, farmer markets and fresh organic produce everywhere we turn, the local resources in this city are truly inspiring. I have always loved to cook ingredients as they are, to leave them true to their character and try not to cover them with too much spices or sauces. Moving to California has pushed me even more in that direction. The winter flavors and Holiday dishes are my favorite. They take me back to my childhood and I am flooded with memories of family gatherings when I was a little girl. We had a routine: we would all share a house by the seaside for Christmas and New Year. My grandma would be cooking with my mom and my aunts. My cousins, brother and I would be running all over the place having a blast. We would have a delicious dinner for Christmas Eve and then go to midnight mass. The next day, when we woke up to all the presents Santa had brought us, there would be crepes and hot chocolate with whipped cream for breakfast with Christmas carols in the background. The joy was always amplified by the food. I keep these memories in mind when I prepare Holiday meals today. What are the new traditions of the Holidays now that we live in California? How can I merge them with my old memories to provide them with the same sensations I once had as a child? Cooking can be scary and some people find it inaccessible. Especially during the Holidays where cooking is a part of the traditions, where you are serving more people than usual, and you’re not making your ordinary dinners! Through this book, I try to demystify Holiday cooking while showing you that delicious food can be prepared without a culinary degree or professional background. Sharing what I cook makes me as happy as showing how simple, enjoyable, and quick it can be. The more festive your table is, the easier it is to feel that sensation of Holiday joy.

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