Everything tasted better when my grandma was around.
Growing up, we didn't get to see my dad's side of the family all that often, but I noticed at some point that all the food we ate in Grandma Kinsman's presence was exponentially more delicious. Later on, I came to realize that it wasn't due to some special grandmotherly mojo, but rather that she used real butter rather than margarine, and my family shopped accordingly when she was in town.
No matter the ingredients, I was predisposed to enjoy her cooking. I loved her and she loved me, her weird, short-haired, misfit granddaughter, even if the rest of the world wasn't inclined to. Seldom did I feel that love so strongly as when her yearly shipment of holiday cookies arrived.
"Wait - there's an actual recipe for this?"
My husband Douglas paused his furious stirring and spun around from his post at the stove. I pointed to the book his mother, now resting in the front room, had left spread open and bookmarked on her kitchen table.
"Well yeah," I said. "Isn't this what you're using? Onion, cornbread, celery, the egg? It's the same dressing you make for Thanksgiving, and this recipe is pretty much it, right?"
Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
If you haven’t gotten your Christmas presents yet, boy, are you in trouble. Ditto if you’re still shopping for Hannukah, which started days ago. But you don’t need me to make this moment worse; you probably already feel like you’re in a bad episode of 24. Consider these gift ideas if you’re frantic to get a food lover something, anything. As they say, better late than never.
Recently, I shared a family story on Eatocracy about our attempt to get back our family tradition: the befana cookie. My Grandmother passed away before we learned how to make them. We took these special cookies for granted.
My brother tried many different combinations of ingredients. He researched with other members of the family, the internet, even conversations with cousins in Italy to try to make them Nonna's way. But, finally, he achieved cookie perfection.
I couldn't disclose the secret recipe for fear of Bernardini excommunication. It has now become a family legacy. When the story was re-posted this year, I quickly from the learned from the comment section that that legacy turned into a fatal flaw. So many people were very disgusted with me.
As a form of penance, I want to post another recipe that we do share throughout the year: sugar cookies.
Welcome to round six of Spouse vs. Spouse, a series in which a couple of married food freaks, CNN’s Brandon and Kristy Griggs, square off in their Atlanta kitchen for culinary bragging rights – and invite you to weigh in too.
In each installment, Kristy and Brandon each make a creative variation on the same ingredient or dish – everything from pasta to seafood to cocktails to desserts. We serve both versions anonymously to our friends, who then judge which one they like better and why. We walk you through our kitchen process, bring the husband-and-wife smack talk and, of course, keep score. We also share our recipes here so that you can try them for yourself.
Our theme: Holiday cocktails
Christmas is often a time for heavy eating and drinking, and the Japanese don't miss out.
But unlike many other countries where there are traditional Christmas dishes, Japan does not have any, and a quick look at a regular family's Christmas feast shows that anything, from sushi to chinese steamed shrimps, are acceptable at the buffet.
However, there is one specialty that many Japanese like to have on the table next to those items – fried chicken from KFC.
Today, it is possibly the closest thing in Japan to a Christmas tradition.
The luscious, dark, tangy, sweet, and often intoxicating first bite of Christmas pudding is a special reminder of the holiday season for those of British origin. A bonus for those unfamiliar with the aged, steamed cake filled with fruit, liquor, and nuts is the opportunity to douse it with brandy butter and set it aflame.
It has been almost two years since I last laid eyes on a Christmas pudding, and in planning this year’s holiday festivities, I knew it had to be an integral part of our celebration. My husband, however - a Florida native with childhood memories of Jell-O brand products - couldn’t conceive of pudding as something special. Indeed, from an American perspective, tapioca and chocolate pudding is generally the domain of the cafeteria. I had to broaden his dessert horizons.
5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Holiday food traditions exist for a reason: they're as feel-good as a Nora Ephron movie and keep the past alive for future generations.
But after 15 years of Aunt Betsy's (in)famous casserole, sometimes change is appreciated.
Five Spices to Make Your Ordinary Holiday Dishes Extraordinary: Chris Yeo
Marilynn Shcolnik of Snohomish County, Washington, shared photos of awe-inspiring gingerbread houses from the 19th annual Gingerbread Village fundraiser in Seattle. The creations are all made by architects partnering with hotel chefs, to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Northwest chapter. The theme this year was “Holiday Express.”
Is there a food that makes the holidays bright in your home? We want to hear all about it. Immortalize your food tradition in words, recipes, pictures or video, submit it as an iReport and we'll show off some of our favorites on CNN's Eatocracy food blog through the end of the holiday season.