One of the joys that I have at the holidays is the setting of my holiday table. My mother hosts my husband, children and I for Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day it is our turn to feed our family and friends. The menu is created just after Thanksgiving, with everything from desserts, appetizers, breads and entrees being discussed.
I love those hours on Christmas Eve, just before we leave for my mother’s, just before the packages are placed under the tree, and the final bit of cleaning done, where the table is set. The cloth is draped, the evergreens placed, the candles found. There is something so beautiful in the knowledge that tomorrow my family and loved ones will gather, children everywhere, and break bread.
There is no place that I would rather be than my kitchen, and nothing that reminds me more of the holidays than cooking, but it is in the table that the beauty of the meal is found. Every year the setting is different, and there is nothing fancy ever used. The table is set with our everyday plates, but I add in the touches of my grandmothers and mother. Their milk glass candle sticks and red glass dessert cups fill the table with history, and always bring up stories of someone else’s table at a time long ago.
In these chairs is where the stories come to life, where our history is set before us in recipes that have been passed down and can never be replaced. It is here that my oldest boy searches for the gluten free food that his mama has made just for him, and my middle son squinches his nose up at any sign of a vegetable that may cross his plate. It will be at this table that my youngest boy will let his first Christmas tastes cross his lips. This is where I now replace my own mother at the head of the table, and look across the way at the husband that I have built this life with.
Our table seats eight, but it houses the love of hundreds, and it is here that so many holiday memories are made.
Vanilla Rice Pudding with Warm Raspberry Compote
¾ cup jasmine rice
3 cups milk
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup vanilla sugar*
Rinse the rice under cold water. Combine the rice, milk and salt in a large sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cook over med/low heat, stirring occasionally untilthe rice is tender. Remove the rice mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla sugar.
Prepare an ice bath. Transfer the rice mixture to a stainless steel or glass bowl, and set it into the ice bath. Stir the rice constantly for five minutes. Transfer to individual serving dishes, and top with raspberry compote (recipe follows).
*To make vanilla sugar, simply slice a whole vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a container with 1 C of sugar. add the whole vanilla bean and seal the lid tightly. Let steep for 1 week, discard the vanilla bean and enjoy.
Makes one cup
¾ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. raspberry balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for 5 minutes, or until sauce is formed. Serve warm over rice pudding.
Heather Fontenot, co-editor and publisher of Rhythm of The Home, lives with her family on the Front Range of Northern Colorado. As a writer, doula and yoga teacher, Heather has a passion for natural and creative living, and spends as much of her time outdoors as possible. She loves to knit, sew, garden, photograph, read and homeschool her three sweet little ones. She writes the blog Shivaya Naturals, where she chronicles her life as a mother, artist, and gluten-free baker.