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Have you ever wanted to just be a kid again at Christmas? Remember how magical they were? Christmas as a child will always be filled with memories of my grandma and grandpa Gozart. I don’t think we ever spent a Christmas apart. We either went to them at the beach, or they came to us. The years they would come to our house, it was as if Santa and his sleigh had arrived. The car would be loaded down with gifts and boxes of cookies and treats. Grandma would always do something special with her gift wrapping, a sprinkle of tinsel, or a candy cane, always more than a beautiful bow, and I couldn’t wait to see them. She was the same with her baking. Every cookie was dressed up for Christmas. She used to make about 40 different things, and these were not everyday cookies, these were only made for Christmas. My grandpa Joe was a salesman for an industrial supply company, and while grandma was busy making all these cookies, grandpa would be doing the washing up to keep the production moving along. I can see him at the sink with his shirtsleeves rolled up, rubber bands keeping them in place, humming as he washed. When all of the baking was finally done, my grandpa would give plates of delectable goodies as gifts to his clients.
Grandma had a great system to her baking, and I pretty much follow it still to this day. Grandma would make all the doughs first, then bake. She said then your oven will only be on when it’s being used. You can bake at this temperature for these five cookies and then change the temperature for the next ones. She was never one to waste anything, not the time or her electric bill. My Christmas history is on the plate of cookies I make each year. There are recipes from so many of my family and friends that are no longer here with us, but like in a Christmas Carol, “these are the shadows of things that have been” and these shadows are still with me.

Christmas Eve as a child was enchanting. We would go out for Chinese food, then come home and have all of grandma’s amazing goodies. We would sit in the light of the tree and fire, sparkles of the sequins on our stockings twinkling at us. Grandma would say, sometimes the best gifts are the little ones you get in your stocking. There would be Christmas music softly coming from the enormous sized stereo cabinet, and the absolute feeling of love and comfort that no words can ever truly express. It just enveloped you in its warmth and floated you off to sugar plum fairyland.
Christmas morning, if you woke up early, and no one else was up yet, you could quietly go downstairs and eat a cookie while seeing that Santa had been there. The cookies and milk that had been left out had been eaten, the carrots were gone, and the stockings were bulging and waiting for little hands to dig into them. You could see a Suzy Homemaker set by the tree, a Dawn Doll pageant stage, and a beautiful cradle with a blonde curly-haired dolly. How on earth did Santa get those down the chimney? Soon everyone is up and we are opening stockings and presents. My mom and grandma are running back and forth to the kitchen in their bathrobes making breakfast in-between presents. We open gifts one at a time, going youngest to oldest, or vice versa. It takes awhile, so I usually can’t wait for breakfast by the time it comes!

So many holiday memories are centered around food for me. It has been an absolute joy this year sharing my recipes with all of you. It’s been an even greater gift to receive recipes from some of you, that will now be forever a part of my holidays.

Today’s recipe is one I hope you try and enjoy! We always have some kind of sweet bread or roll with Christmas breakfast, and this recipe is a must during the holidays. It is my Cousin Gail’s Cardamon Bread Recipe. Gail is one of the best bakers I know! Her pie crust can make you weep it is so flaky and delicious! Gail shared this bread recipe with me years ago, and I’ve been making it for special occasions and holidays ever since. It is being presented on this adorable 11.5 inches Frosty and Friends Trivet that you can bake, cut, and serve on. Regularly $57.99 and on sale for 20% off for $45.99. Also pictured is the beautiful Mod Floral Pedestal Bowl regularly $139.99 and on sale 20% off for $108.99. This bowl is deep enough, you could use it for a trifle, or a flower arrangement! Still available is this 13 inches round Frosty and Friends platter, regularly $108.99 and on sale 20% off for $86.99.

All of the pottery pictured is available for purchase at The Pottery Avenue by Pangaea website at www.potteryavenue.com. Use the search button and type in the pattern name and it will bring up all of the pieces available in that pattern. Can’t find what you are looking for? Just send a message and Twila and her team will be happy to help you. Use discount code Twila or PAF for your 20% discount.

From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas and Smacznego!

Gail’s Cardamom Bread

  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter melted

Topping

  • One egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • Sugar

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Stir in evaporated milk, 1/2 cup sugar, the salt, cardamom, two eggs, and 2 cups of flour. Beat in butter until mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in enough remaining flour to make though easy to handle, and cover let rest 15 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl. Turn greased side up, and cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise in a warm place until double, about an hour.
Punch dough down cover and let rise again until double.

Divide dough in half. Divide each half into three parts. Roll each part into a strand 1 inch in diameter. Braid three strands together to make a straight loaf, pinch ends and fold under. Repeat with the remaining 3 strands. Place each loaf onto parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover and let rise until double 30 to 35 minutes.

Heat oven to 375°. Mix egg yolk and Milk. Brush loaves with mixture and sprinkle with almonds and sugar. Bake until light brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks

At Christmas I like to use up my candied cherries instead of using almonds by placing them onto the loaves when they are done baking.