December, full of grace


December arrived with glowing white drifts of snow.

December arrived with a frenetic bout of cooking and baking (Harried, crazy November was all about takeout, and eating out, and strangely bland organic frozen foods).

December arrived with a pizza made by yours truly and The Guitar Player. Nothing fancy, unless you think three cheeses is fancy (which I do). We’re trying to keep things simpler. We’re trying to make it not so much about the food. We’re trying to have evenings full of grace. We’re trying.


December arrived with a huge cake, that I made for The Gay Schoolteacher. It was his 50th birthday. I met him in high school, thirty five years ago! He’s a sweet, brilliant, and very funny man. I wanted him to have a birthday cake made with love.

The cake was nothing fancy, but it took two whole days to shop for, make, and decorate. By the time I was done, I was too exhausted to take a picture. Still, I was particularly proud of what I wrote on the cake, in torturous scrawls of gluey yellow fake icing: To Sir With Love.

December arrived, marking the end of my first semester as a full-time prof. How did I do it? There were sleepless nights; days choked with anxiety. There were charming students, diffident students, there were some supportive colleagues and friends. There was Dancing With the Stars and long-distance phonecalls and bleary days and nights of course prep and marking.

To celebrate the end of term, I bought some lovely cheeses: Sauvagne, from Quebec; Stilton; and something tangy with apricots. We drank a California merlot, nibbled on cheese, and slowly, very slowly, made a three-cheese pizza with grilled vegetables.


December arrived with the baking of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

December arrived with dog rolling in the snow drifts.

With plans to go to New York for a holiday.

With relief and expectation and a wise kind of innocence.

December. May it be full of grace.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

I cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tspn baking soda
½ cup boiling water
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
1¾ cups flour
½ tspn salt
2 cups quick oats
½ cup dried coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter, then blend in the sugar until well mixed. Dissolve the baking soda in boiling water and add it to the butter-sugar mixture, followed by the vanilla and the egg. Stir together the dry ingredients, then add them slowly to the creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Form small balls, place on a greased cookie sheet, flatten with a fork, and bake for twelve to fifteen minutes.

You can also freeze all or part of this batter and use, defrosted, when desired.

This makes about two dozen cookies.

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