May 21, 2010

Happy Holidays… Whatever The Season

Some people make a Big Deal out of the “grilling” holidays: Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. They’re excuses to cook on the barbeque grill and show off their outdoor “chefly” prowess. Even when I had a house (I now live in a condo) and owned a barbeque grill (forbidden under the condo rules & regs), I preferred to cook indoors, and the “grilling” holidays were no special days to me.

But then, in my kitchen, every day is a Special Occasion.

In truth, I celebrate three holidays a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday. While some people shun birthdays, I embrace them. Hey…  it’s a day that celebrates ME… what’s not to like about that?

On each of those three occasions, I celebrate by — what else? —  cooking. And having a crowd in to enjoy what I’ve spent all day laboring at.

But believe me, it’s a labor of love.

Any time spent in my kitchen, though, is cause to celebrate. Unless it’s time spent doing dishes. (Ugh!)

So as Memorial Day approaches (with July 4th and Labor Day sneaking up behind it), I’m not preparing any special menus or plans, but I’m already looking ahead to my birthday. It’s not till October, but fortunately there’s no law against delicious anticipation.

And there’s also no law against treating ordinary nights as Special Occasions just ’cause I got a hold of a new recipe and it sounds scrumptious and I can’t wait to taste how it came out.

I enjoy developing my own recipes, but discovering yummy new recipes from other people is great fun too. I have a pretty good ability to “read”  a recipe — to look it over and mentally taste it — and seldom has a recipe that sounded great to me turned out bad. Most surprises come from those I’m not sure of but cook anyhow. The surprises can go in either direction: A recipe that sounds possible but questionable and turns out to be much better than I anticipated, or one that turns out to be a real dud. But then, we need a few surprises to keep us on our toes.

I have one such recipe in the crockpot as I write these words. It came from a reliable source, but it read “iffy.” Maybe good, maybe bad. I’m eager to find out, like a child who’s discovered a wrapped gift at the back of the closet and can’t wait till her birthday to open it and find out what it is.

If it turns out to be a Winner, tonight’s dinner will be another Special Occasion.

But then, when I’m cooking, it’s always a Special Occasion. Seven Special Occasions a week. How can you not love a calendar like that?!

Author of over 50 published books, including The Cook-Ahead Cookbook (Bristol/Nitty-Gritty) and many books on other subjects, Cynthia MacGregor is a full-time freelance writer/editor. She is available to write, edit, ghostwrite, and do public speaking. Her website is, and her email is [email protected]. She lives near West Palm Beach.

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