Welcome 2016

The holidays are over and life is settling back into its normal everyday rhythm. I'm taking down the tree this weekend and organizing my holiday gear a little more effectively, a trend that I intend to carry over to the rest of the house. 2015 was another quiet year for this blog, mostly because I was busy, Gareth was busy, there wasn't much interesting going on in the kitchen - just good workaday meals that come together easy at the end of the day.

There also wasn't anything new going on for the holidays. No new cookie recipes from me this time around. I always like to try something new and interesting with my cookies and have had mixed results at best (some of which you can find in the "holiday baking" category). But this time around, I started getting requests for some of my old standbys as soon as we got through Thanksgiving. Fruitcake, fig pinwheels, and five-spice cookies were all asked for.

And that's when I finally realized that the holidays really are about traditions. There is a form to the rituals that makes them special, things that wouldn't feel quite right at any other time of the year. The food and flavors are a big part of that. And while I could make fruitcake in July, it wouldn't be the same as rolling it out in December.

When the holidays come around this year, I've got some traditions I'll be returning to. I'll bake all my favorite cookies and give them out to friends and colleagues. I'll decorate a small evergreen with lights. I'll sit under the stars on the longest night of the year and think about the year to come. And I will savor every moment.

Here are some of my best loved cookie recipes: