Curious. I didn’t jump into the much coveted Holiday issue of the LCBO Food & Drink magazine like I usually do. Plus 15ºC today likely had something to do with it. Oddly, my bottle shopping confreres were decked in wool pants, socks, heavy shoes, fall coats and scarves when cruising through the liquor store this morning. I, on the other hand, dressed more appropriately for the weather Light weight fashions in keeping with a dreamy Disney vacation. And I was still hot. Wouldn’t they be sweltering?

So everything wintery and frosty and jingly about Holiday just isn’t working for me yet. It is important to know that the rule in my house is that Christmas starts the day after Remembrance Day. In 3 more days I should be contemplating putting up my tree. I now know what it feels like to do Christmas in Florida.

I peeled through the pages hoping to be captured and launched into the season. Eventually I did let go. Partly aware of my hosting obligations soon coming on me. Plus my strong desire to be ready and awesome. I do love the Holiday issue for the inspiration it lavishes on us as we go about planning our feasts of this and nibbles of that.

My list of wants ended up being many, and here are a few of my top picks:

  • Garlic Chicken on Bok Choy Rice Cakes and Black Pepper & Asiago Fricos with Serrano Ham (From Sugar and Spice by Christopher St. Onge) * In fact ANYTHING from this feature looks smashing.
  • Hot & Sour Soup and Stir-Fried Beef with Black Beans and Rice Noodles, Steamed Rice (From Fine China by Lucy Waverman) * Another feature where every recipe appears genius. Check them all out.
  • Bubbly Sangria (From Spirited Sangria by Michelle P.E. Hunt and Laura Panter) * 5 hard-to-choose Sangria recipes. 5 parties? Or 5 punch bowls at the one? A difficult decision.
  • Coconut Lime Clouds and White Chocolate & Clementine Shortbread Sandwiches (From White Delights by Christopher St. Onge) * Christopher is running away with this issue with 5 knock out choices for the cookie platter. Look at them all.
  • Hot Boxty and Lemon Posset (From Boxing Day Specials by Marilyn Bentz-Crowley) * Have you ever heard of Boxty and Posset?
  • Spiced Scallops with Blood Orange Salsa and Chilled Orange Salad with Honey and Grand Marnier (From Citrus Season by Lucy Waverman) * Please, please, please pay attention to her tip on how to do ‘special cut oranges’.

There is a section entitled Thank You! by Cobi Ladner and Victoria Walsh. It is wonderful to labour over making high quality homemade gifts for your many hosts this season. But I have seen some real fails. Remember, it is not about you but your host. No fudge for the diabetic or spicy nuts for the wildly allergic. Nothing smelly for the asthmatic. You get the idea. Make it all about her/him. Make it very special. And for sure, it can still be homemade.

I favour the old familiar holiday jingles that should be belting out everywhere in just a few weeks. The Holiday Playlist by Rick Shurman and Earl Torno took a departure from tradition and focused on a theme more in tune with ‘reconnecting with family and friends’. A cute idea. Though I am still puzzled by the choice then of Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong. I guess some reconnections just aren’t meant to be. Check it out on iTunes.

In Inspired Ideas by Brenda Morrison, is a definite GOTTA HAVE. Cool Ideas, showcases the Prepara Ice Balls. I am a faithful user of Lee Valley Tool’s Ice Lantern, filling them over and over with boughs of pine and cedar and a few fresh cranberries. So it is no surprise that I would shape shift to orbs filled with slices of lemon, mint leaves or rose petals. Now, to go about sourcing them in Ottawa.

I have to think there is extra sweat that goes into making the Holiday issues extra glamorous. Food styling is everything. It has the very important role of conveying the seduction of the dish glossed up in the pages before you. When successful, you can smell the dish and want to lick the pages. A tip of the fork to the food styling team of: Ruth Gangbar, Terry Schact, Heather Shaw and Christopher St. Onge.

If you need something to rev your Holiday engine, you might try starting with the latest LCBO Food & Drink magazine. Weighing in at a hefty 865 grams (25 grams lighter than last year), not only will you be ready for your holiday party plans, you will find lots of great ideas that suit the chilly days that are inevitably coming ahead.

What tickled your fancy in this issue?

Plan ahead: The Winter issue hits the stores 9 weeks from today on Wednesday, January 11th.

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