To Escape the Holiday Stress, Lose Yourself in a Recipe
Want to escape the holiday bustle? Plan a retreat into the rituals of cooking.
We’re not talking about cooking those obligatory holiday dishes – the Christmas cookies or the savory latkes. Instead, we’re talking about dishes that let you escape the demands of December, unleash your culinary creativity, and reward you with their flavors and textures just because.
And if “just because” isn’t enough motive for you, we suggest cooking with a purpose. We’ve got four compelling reasons to break out the pots and pans below. Not sure where to start? Grab your complimentary copy of our e-book, the Country Walkers Cookbook, for inspiration.
You deserve some “me” time. Or, if you prefer, some family time. So hit the kitchen, lose yourself in the prep and the sizzle, and leave all thoughts of the holidays behind – if only for a couple of hours.
Cook to remember your travels
Maybe you remember that succulent tagine you savored in Morocco. Or that breakfast of kaiserschmarm, the lightly sweetened pancake that started your day off right in Austria. Preparing traditional dishes from places you’ve visited transports you back – in your mind and with your senses. What better way to leave the bustle of the holiday season behind?
You’ll find the above two recipes in our Country Walkers Cookbook, a collection of dishes we’ve curated from our guides all around the world. Try your hand at pumpkin and prawn risotto; Luigi Esposito shares this delicious preparation from the Isle of Capri. Put together a fig salad with goat cheese and prosciutto; this Portuguese starter reminds guide David Silva of his childhood in his grandmother’s garden. What can you cook that reminds you of your favorite destination?
Cook for comfort’s sake
To be sure, the holidays can be filled with joy, nostalgia, and excitement. But they can also be, well … disruptive. You pull ornaments and decorative flourishes from dusty boxes, haul a tree home and wrestle it into its stand, make your gift-giving list and check it twice, sign a stack of festive cards and run them to the post office.
All that prep is worth it in the end, of course. But amidst the thrall of it all, you might need some grounding. That’s where your favorite meal comes in. It’s the comfort food you can all count on, the culinary touchstone that anchors you, and the reminder that you don’t have to wait until the holiday for a few of your favorite things.
Cook to conjure your ancestors
Nothing brings family together like cooking. So this is the perfect opportunity to create something together. Better still if you find that elusive recipe that a grandparent used to make – for the holidays or at any time of year. If you’ve traveled with Country Walkers, you recognize this spirit. Most every Walking Adventure invites you into the homes of locals who fill their kitchens and dining rooms with the aromas and flavors from past generations.
Preparing a long-forgotten recipe can be a deeply meaningful experience. Invite your kids or grandkids into the kitchen to help, and you just might find that the joy of cooking connects you to past and future generations in ways you never imagined.
Cook for those who can’t join you
It goes without saying that holidays change over time. Kids go off to college or to a job across the country to begin their own lives. They start their own families. Loved ones might be deployed overseas, ill, or gone. The holidays – a time of gratitude and compassion – provide the perfect occasion to prepare their favorite meal. Even in their absence, it’s a thoughtful, contemplative, and loving way to honor them. It’s also a constructive way to channel any sadness you feel that they can’t be with you for the holiday.
Better still, enlist a kitchen helper so you can talk about the meal’s honoree. If they liked the side dish cooked “just so,” then cook it “just so.” If you want to feel their presence, put on their favorite music. And if possible, invite them to join you in the kitchen via Zoom or some other video calling app.