Why, when I have 364 days of the year to prepare for this, am I always drowning in a last-minute wave of Yuletide? I thought for once that this year would be different, as we have dramatically scaled down our festivities. With half of the family out of town, it should be quite a quiet holiday. But for me, Christmas excesses don’t include spending too much on gifts, but rather, too much on calories. This timeless season is endless with its goodie binges starting in November and continuing until New Year’s Day. Twelve days of Christmas? I’m counting at least 45. Yes, I will trifle with truffles, have the hots for chocolate, get jiggy for fig bars, double my date cookies and go long on the shortbread. But my big splurge this Christmas will be sealed with a knish. A knish is what inspired someone to say, “Good things come in small packages.” These little cheese-filled pockets are packed with flavourful, creamy-textured dairy delights encased in soft, yet substantial pastry. While I love to cook and consider myself quite good at it, there are some dishes that I have always depended on others to make. This year I will be without any sisters to help spice up the kitchen, although I do have my Mother coming for the week to lead the way in making cabbage rolls, dressing and gravy. I’ve never made knishes before, always leaving that task to the skilful, loving hands of Mom. But this year, I decided to turn the tables. Instead of waiting for my fairy godmother to grant me three knishes, I decided to tackle them on my own, along with some assistance from Mom’s little black book of delicious recipes. The knish recipe came all the way from Russia with love, although I’m not sure if it’s the Ackermans or Gilsingers I need to thank. The three fillings listed include potato, cottage cheese and chicken livers. I skipped the latter and combined the other two to make cheesy, potato-stuffed knish. Since I love my food to have "depth of taste" (which unfortunately at times has resulted in "width of butt"), instead of just boiling the potatoes in salted water, I cooked them in chicken stock, along with a chopped garlic clove, then let them sit awhile to absorb that garlicky goodness. And with that accomplished, I plan to bask in the beauty of the holidays, enjoying all the hugs, knishes and warmth that the season brings. Glory to God in the Highest! Peace on Earth! Goodwill toward Men!
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