We're lucky to have had family visit us in Austin over the past couple of months, which made it a little easier to decide to stay put for the holidays this year. We normally travel for either Thanksgiving or Winter break, but we cozied up at home and made very few plans these past two months. It's made for a much-needed reset and I got to focus on spending some time making slower meals at home, which is something I don't ever seem to have time to do anymore.

This year, I made simple goals for meals and decided to keep my stress levels as low as possible by sticking to my tried and true comfort foods. I've also gotten better at setting reasonable expectations of my time when it comes to cooking. I remember getting so overwhelmed after choosing lofty menus and complicated recipes in years past, but I've finally decided not to over-complicate things so I only feel enjoyment from the time spent in the kitchen. It doesn't make sense to feel reluctant about spending so much time cooking if I don't want to be doing it. Last year, I made the decision to order a premade duck confit Christmas dinner, and it was all the rage with everyone. This year, I knew I'd have a lot of time at home, and opted to keep it more homemade. 

So, we did our usual smoked salmon, cheese and charcuterie board for Christmas Eve. We added a chocolate panettone to the mix this year for dessert because we couldn't get enough of one at a friend's house earlier in the week. For Christmas linner, I stuck to a long and slow braised beef short rib with grandpère's gratin and grilled red cabbage with mustard sauce. Avienne's gotten more curious (and helpful!) in the kitchen, so she helped me whip up a very rustic bûche de noël that managed to be tasty despite my missing a few ingredients. 

It was an indulgent couple of days, and we were all reminded how grateful we are for the food and gifts we all luxuriated in this Christmas.