Happy Friday!! It's almost Christmas Eve and I'm delighted to share an interview with my friend, author Kim Smith. Aren't her decorations above divine? Her book O Garden of Fresh Possibilities would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves gardening or pretty flower illustrations.
She was kind enough to share some of her holiday traditions and secrets as well as some exciting projects:
1- What are the holiday traditions that you enjoy with your family and that warm your heart?
I love to cook for my family and they love to eat so the majority of our traditions revolve around sharing meals together. This past year both our children have been away at school; our daughter Liv is at NYU graduate school for opera, and this is our son Alex’s first year at Green mountain College in Vermont. Alex told me the thing he misses most about home is my cooking—so I am going extra all out! When at home for the holidays (we spend half our holidays at home in Gloucester and every other year in Cincinnati, Ohio) we love having dinner parties for our family and friends. My daughter is arriving home on the 21st and she has given me her wish list of dinner suggestions for the upcoming week. Two of her favorites are lobster risotto and cheese fondue. Cheese fondue served with cubes of crusty baguettes and lightly steamed vegetables is our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Liv is oftentimes singing for Christmas Eve services and fondue is wonderfully cozy and very simple and relaxing to prepare after we arrive home late from church. Our latest favorite version is with cheese, fresh lobster, and artichoke hearts.
My husband comes from a very large German family and for over 100 years they have celebrated Christmas Eve with an elegant sit down dinner for all the relatives—aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, and children, which is nearly equally as fun as when we are at home celebrating—and I get a night off from cooking!
2- What do you have planned this year as a special holiday treat?
One of our favorite Christmas traditions is holiday movie night, whether with all the cousins in Ohio or here at home. This year we are super thrilled to go see Tintin!! Our son Alex grew up adoring Hergé’s Tintin and has read them all multiple times. I believe he owns every single book. We are all praying Spielberg has not Disneyfied the characters, especially Captain Archibald Haddock; hopefully is still his salty self.
3-Do you collect Christmas decorations? Where do you find your treasures?
I love collecting Christmas decorations and have forever. Many are handmade or were purchased in little shops on Beacon Hill (where I lived for many years), vintage shops, and flea markets. I have several pairs of a little boy and a little girl tree ornaments that I purchased long before our children were born. Every year when placing these ornaments on the tree, I am reminded how very fortunate I am to be blessed with two beautiful children.
4- Are you working on any exciting writing projects at the moment that you can share with us?
This winter I am writing the scripts for three television documentaries. These projects are very near and dear to my heart. I shot the footage this past summer and autumn. The first is titled The Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, the second, The Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, and the third came about because I was getting such fantastic “B” roll filming the butterflies and wildflowers along the shoreline of Cape Ann. This film is about Good Harbor Beach, not only about the flora and fauna found there, but also about the history of the beach and how it is used by our community today.
5- Your husband Tom is also a writer. What's he up to these days?
He has written a series of (simply amazing and very gripping) politically oriented detective thrillers and is looking for an agent.
6-Any recipe you would like to share?
Isabelle, this is my first year with this recipe and it was a huge hit. Very, very easy to prepare and makes a wonderful host/hostess gift, too.
Chocolate Amaretto Truffles
Mini baking cups
2 ounces. Baker’s sweet German chocolate, broken into small bits
6 ounces Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ C. Disaronno Amaretto liqueur
2 Tbs. strong coffee
Few drops almond extract
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
½ C. pulverized Jules Destrooper almond thins (or Anna’s, or any super fine, thin cookie)
Confectioner’s sugar to taste (approximately ½ cup)
½ C. Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder for final powdering
Melt sweet chocolate bits and semi-sweet chocolate chips over a gently simmering double boiler.
Whisk in liqueur, coffee, almond extract, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously, over gentle heat, a few minutes more until mixture is shiny and smooth. Gradually add the butter by tablespoons. With a wooden spoon, beat in the pulverized cookies. Beat in sifted confectioner’s sugar, to taste. Remove the pan from the double boiler and place in a bowl of ice with water. Stir until well chilled and firm enough to form into balls.
By teaspoonful, gather up a gob and form into a rough, truffle-like shape. Roll in cocoa powder and drop into frilled paper cup.
Makes about 22, depending on size. Refrigerate in an airtight container. They will keep for several weeks or they may be frozen. (Very) loosely adapted from Julia Child’s Chocolate Amaretti Truffles The Way to Cook Page 485.
Thank you so much Kim for these wonderful treats and have a fantastic day!!