Anticipation is a word I easily associate with the approach of the holiday season.
It’s that wistful feeling from childhood, when we scribbled our names in catalogs next to pictures of toys as little voices in our excited dreaming heads called out to our parents to bestow these things upon us. I always drew two stars next to all the super-deluxe models of the Lilliputian cooking kits, and one year I actually received such a treasure … not quite a deluxe model, but a version more in keeping with my frugal Midwestern family’s values.
However, it didn’t take long to learn that the real fun was in a full-size kitchen, and there my family never scrimped on any ingredients we young cooks requested. On any night during the dark season, with snow piling up outside, candelit warmth inside, and egg beaters whirling in the kitchen, all manner of homemade savories, sweets, preserves, and spiced drinks sprawled across the counters and tables. People reliably came through to demolish the goodies as quickly as we made them. That was ample incentive to keep the cooking joy cranked up from Thanksgiving until Twelfth Night, at which point it was officially okay to take a wrecking ball to the gingerbread cathedral.
But why can’t the celebrations last into February, the little voice continues to call out from across the decades?
In the Edible East Bay production workshop, as we assembled this package of stories, recipes, and pictures to inspire your holiday celebrations, we realized we had in our hands just the opportunity to keep cheer raised high right up to February 5, 2019, when the Lunar New Year welcomes in the Year of the Pig. So now we offer an invitation to anyone who likes to spend time in a warm winter workshop or kitchen:
Cooks can step up with confidence to make Lunar New Year dumplings under the tutelage of the East Bay’s own Madame Huang with the recipe in our story. Celebrants with a low-carbon footprint in mind might gather around Rezel Kealoha’s vegan hot pot made scrumptious with locally grown Top Cap mushrooms. And for the months before Lunar New Year, we have help with holiday-worthy recipes from from César, Anaviv’s Table, Niles Pie, and others.
In the gift-making workshop, Lily Rockholt of the Ecology Center shows you how to make a beeswax food wrap, which helps the world cut down on plastic. At the same time, this project supports local beekeepers, who sell bee products to fund their important work. And there’s another idea for helping the pollinator population with herbalist Anna Beauchemin’s Pollinator and Medicinal Herb Garden Seed Packets. For that one, Edible East Bay artists have designed a nifty DIY seed envelope that could be repurposed by anyone inclined to do the important work of seed saving.
And here’s another gift idea that helps the natural world: If you have a friend who works in downtown Oakland, you could buy them a membership in the GO Box app and help reduce trash in our landfills. For the kids on your list, consider the delightful books about rescued farm animals reviewed on page 12 and the charming CD I Am Your Food.
In the big picture on gift giving, here’s our perennial reminder to support your community by buying local. Be sure to make special note of the many wonderful things our advertisers have to offer, and let them know how much you appreciate their support for Edible East Bay.
Cheryl Angelina Koehler