I don’t have a recipe for you this week. I was thinking about writing one for pfefferneuse, a childhood favorite, or maybe a version of green beans and bacon with onion strings (if you didn’t get enough of that at Thanksgiving), but it is not like you can’t just Google those things and get 400 recipes. Ok, maybe not for pfefferneuse, but you get my point.

This time of year signifies a new beginning, whether you are religious or not. If you are a Star Wars fan it could be described as A New Hope. For many, it is a time to visit loved ones (didn’t we just do this last month?) and not only enjoy a meal together, but share other gifts as well.

I remember Christmas Eves with my family as a young child. We would all pack into the car, which ranged anywhere from a 1974 Cadillac to a 1983 Chevy station wagon, and headed off to New Britain, CT where my great aunt Dot lived. She lived in a modest house with a garage attached by a breezeway. The kitchen was small and shared a space with the dining room (if you removed the early 1970s upper row of cabinets), but it was still the center of attention. It wasn’t that a feast was being prepared there, as most of the dishes were made in advance and reheated, or they were brought in by visiting family members and were still sort of warm when they were handed over to the host.

I remember baked ziti, and German potato salad…

and head cheese;

and pickled pigs feet;

and rum balls. Oh boy. Rum balls.

But that is another story…

The point is that food attracts people, and for those of us who cook, we bask in that moment. We cook for many reasons, but mostly because it is a moment where differences are forgotten (except for those who think there is too much garlic in the mashed potatoes. Not. Possible.), and everything is right with the world.

Food brings us together. Whether it be generations of a family coming together to share in the deep culinary history of their heritage; or strangers coming together to share whatever may be in that crock pot or under that layer of foil.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from Chef Hardcore