My 3 Favorite Things About the Holidays


 Family. Food. Tradition.

In an Italian family those three things are our holy trinity. No gathering is complete without all of them.

As I made a traditional Italian pastry, cujinites -no, we have no idea how they are really spelled, speculated as calcunetta- with my Dad, Mom, uncle, and hubby a couple weeks ago, this age-old recipe struck me.

Of course we’ve updated it (actually wrote it down).  The base of the filling is chestnuts, chic peas, honey, nuts, chocolate and a couple of other secret ingredients. My point? Nuts, legumes, and honey…not all that bad for you.

Why are Older Baking Recipes Often Healthier?

Older baking recipes often used everyday ingredients in baking for flavor. Many of them didn’t rely solely on cane sugar. The result? Flavorful, rich desserts that tasted like more than sugar. Oh yeah, and healthier!

Tradition. Like a warm blanket.

I love eating these once-a-year treats, but they aren’t for everyone. My favorite part? Making them with my family. When I was a kid, my Grandmother had an assembly line of up to 10 or 12 people help her make 300+ of these back-breaking, handmade, little suckers.

Today, our family is smaller, and five of us make 100+ each year for everyone. But the conversations, debates, taste-testing, measuring, and careful counting remains the same. We can’t get my uncle too upset because his emotional state is reflected in his pastry-making. 🙂 Just like when I was 10.

In the stress of never-ending holiday to-do lists, the time I spend with my family immersed in the comforts of tradition, brings some of the most relaxing, joyful times I’ve known. No matter how much some things in life change, the warm blanket of family, food and tradition always feels the same.

What other family holiday traditions are out there? Do you notice any differences in your Grandmother’s baking recipes?

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