Started off with this arriving on my doorstep: Volume 2 of the Food 52 Cookbook featuring my friend Humaira and my Afghan dumpling recipe: tender scallion dumplings topped with ground lamb and yogurt sauce.

Speaking of nice surprises, so begins the parade of holiday food gifts, most recently this scrumptious savory persimmon relish from my stepmom.

On the subject of holiday goodies, what kind of mother strips the gingerbread house of treats while the children are at school? These sorts of distraction are one downside to working at home.

I did make up for it, though, by toasting these baguette pizzas for the kids, inspired by my “Stouffer’s French Bread pizza” years.

A big bowl of leafy greens were prescribed to go along with that pizza, of course.

Had a few successes in the kitchen, including this pasta: poached salmon, spinach, creme fraiche, lemon zest, capers, pasta. Mmmm.

And one abysmal failure in the form of cranberry apple steel cut oatmeal done overnight in the slow cooker. I thought I was onto some thing BIG, but by morning a dark crust formed on the periphery that took three days to scrape off.
But who could stay down for long with Good Samaritans in the world taping quarters and notes to parking meters? That’s some kind of sweet holiday spirit.