It's 3am and the whistling wind has woken me up, again... The branches outside my window scratch the screens and thrash the side of the house. Somewhere migrant birds, like Canadian Geese, fly high above. This morning's moon was spectacular! Did you see it? The moon was 2016's last supermoon. The beautiful orb seemed suspended against the purple-grey backdrop of the sky - too beautiful to be all by itself up there on such a chilly day. It seemed lonely... I too can become lonely on chilly days, especially now, about the holidays. Our family lives far from our relatives and we miss them...
One way to feel connected to my family is through baking. Being of Greek descent, Greek food, in general, is tantamount to holiday time. The yummy treats and savory main dishes I make, connect to my "Greekness" but also to my daughters, mother, grandmother, aunts and cousins. One of my favorite treats to bake at this time of year are Koulourakia. Each sweet snap of a Koulourakia (pronounced "Coo-la-L-eye-key-ya) takes me back to my grandma's house and the scene of family gatherings where each family brought Koulourakia and had a sort of friendly cookie competition. Each of us thought their version was the yummiest. Of course, my grandma's were THE BEST!
Koulourakia are typically served at Easter time. They are labor-intensive, butter-based, vanilla-scented, not too sweet and utterly addictive. You may have seen them at Greek Festivals in the town where you live. At festivals or most Greek households, (save for mine) Koulourakia are brushed with egg white or an egg wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds before baking (but our family thinks this wash and sprinkle of seeds taste yucky, so we ignore that step). In our home, we call Koulourakia, "Twisty Cookies," so-named for their traditional, twisty shape. I hope you research these delightful little bits and search about for a recipe to make your own. The cookies keep, airtight, for weeks but will not last that long. They make lovely gifts your recipient will no doubt appreciate. Try them for a cookie exchange.
Today, our college student, Alyssa, will make the long trek home from school. She will arrive weary, laundry-laden and hungry; exhausted and overwrought by exams and travelling. Like me, she is not a good passenger, even if she is driving. We love to travel, just not the "getting there" part of travel. I have been waiting to make Koulourakia until Alyssa arrives home. The experience of making Koulourakia is something important to share with our daughters. There is something gratifying about knowing the knowledge I share with our girls will be passed down to their children and their children, down the family line. We will share, not just the experience of creating food, but of creating memories. Food is such a part of memories and of celebrations. The celebration of Christmas is about the celebration of family and the love we have for one another. Our expression of that love through food is why cooking is an integral part of life.
Happy Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy Happy! to one and ALL!
Avid home cook and passionate instructor