A CANUCK IN KANTUCK: <span>In a relationship with mashed potatoes</span>  

Tara Kaprowy

If you’re looking for a partner in crime to help you indulge in your every last craving this holiday season, look no further, kids, because I am your girl.

You want a candy cane? Suck away. You want gingersnap cookies? How can you not? You want a whole bloody cheese ball? Hell yes you do.

In my world, the very best thing about Christmas is the beautiful food, in large part because the very best thing about living is, again, the beautiful food. So if you feel like you need a green light? You feel like you need to blast away some guilt? You come to me.

In fact, you come to me at any time (figuratively, of course — I don’t actually see people right now). Feel free to call, text or email me and I’ll set you straight. Don’t even worry about waking me, because I’ll be up. In fact, I’ll probably be up and looking in the fridge for my next snack.

You know what I’ll tell you?

First, that my tagline for this holiday season is “Game on.”

Second, three words: Hundred. Year. Pandemic. You know what that means? We deserve this. In fact — and don’t hate me, grandma — we effing deserve this. It’s been a tough year. And it’s almost over. I, for one, plan on celebrating every single last day of December.

What am I most enjoying eating now?

It started with my chocolate advent calendar. Hoo doggy, was I the only one who nearly broke into that thing Nov. 30? Granted, it doesn’t take much to amuse me these days, but I am having so much fun with advent this year. Every night after dinner, my wrists bent like Alexa’s from Schitt’s Creek, I prance to the living room to open up our daily allotment. I don’t know what is more fun — the different chocolates themselves or the fact that they each live in their own little house.

As for dinners, I’m working on the coziest winter meals imaginable. I mean, there is so much braising going on in this house, I actually heard the Dutch oven, such a diva, complain to the vegetable steamer the other night.

“Can’t you step in? I’m overworked and underpaid.”

Luckily, the steamer, in Child’s Pose, just shrugged.

“I’m a January girl,” she said. “For when she repents. You know that.”

Short ribs. Lamb shank. Beef stew. They are all finding their way to the table. Accompanied, of course, by the most luscious mashed potatoes, the creamiest grits, the cheesiest polenta.

And bread! My god, the bread! And the butter! Sweet Jesus, the butter! If ever there were a time for All The Carbs, it’s now.

I haven’t started my Christmas baking yet, because I don’t want to get tired of cheese biscuits, thumbprint cookies and fudge too far in advance of the main event. But I have all of my ingredients already. The cheese biscuits are a little tricky this year because we always use MacLaren’s Imperial cheese spread (side note: isn’t it amazing how you can add the word “imperial” to something, even something as plebian as cheese spread, and it sounds super posh?), and MacLaren’s is only available in Canada. But after, really, an embarrassing amount of research, I settled on Kraft’s Old English spread and I’m hoping it does the trick. I mean, how wrong can you go with cheese spread anyway?

Oh god. Cheese spread. Do I need to run downstairs and have a little taster right now? Do I need to chase that taste with some wassail? How much longer before I can open my advent?

This year, I’m going to try my hand at making perogies from scratch. I’ve never done it before, but if ever there were a time to undertake a major cooking project, it’s while you’re shut in the house during a hundred-year pandemic, amIright?

For those uninitiated, perogies (or pierogi) are dumplings filled with a mixture of cheddar cheese and potato and are served with minced onions, bacon and cold sour cream. My grandma always upped the game by pouring browned butter over them once they were boiled.

They are incredibly luscious and rich and I’m hoping I can pull them off. Same too for French Canadian meat pie, which I’ve also never made. Luckily, I have my mom who can talk me through that one.

Actually, that reminds me that I need to buy pickled beets.

It will be the first year my family isn’t together for Christmas, and, frankly, some of my food celebration is in place to distract me from that fact. But every time I think it through, I know it’s best we skip this year in order to ensure next year will be whole and lovely.

So I will eat. Stinky cheese while working Christmas puzzles. Cheesecake while watching Great British Baking Show. Pecan pie while watching When Harry Met Sally.

And we will get through. God bless us all, we will get through. In the meantime, you need any binge ideas? You suffering from regret? Your pants feeling a little tight? I’m here for you.

Tara Kaprowy is a columnist with the Sentinel-Echo and former staff writer. She now lives in Somerset.

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