Maybe you’ll remember what I said about presentation in the Thanksgiving blog. If you don’t, here’s a summary: Food tastes better when it looks prettier. That’s just facts. One thing I’ve noticed besides visual presentation, is that scent is important. We all know that smell is the best trigger for memory. The parts of our nose that receive the smell are connected by short pathways to the part of our brain called the limbic system. While the limbic system is slightly more evolved than our lizard brain (the part responsible for fight or flight), the limbic system is still in charge of things like mood and memory. It also is responsible for instinct, but not so much for higher thought. So that’s why when you smell a cooking turkey you’re six years old again. Your brain is remembering the first time you smelled that turkey. It’s the same for me every time I smell a certain perfume. I think of the first person I ever smelled wearing it.
Back to the holidays! Christmas is nearly upon us, guys! It’s time for the Elf on the Shelf, if you do that. It’s also the time for Advent calendars and Christmas villages under the tree. Mistletoe and holly decking the halls. Red and green garland, tinsel, and twinkly lights. I love these things.
Imagine, if you will, your family approaches your home from the driveway. They see your beautifully manicured bushes (because in this fantasy, your bushes are not shaped like pineapples the way mine are) with hundreds of white twinkling lights in them. For the purposes of this fantasy, it’s also snowing so your lights are visible even though it’s 3pm or so. You’ve set your table with the Christmas ham, loads of candles, a stray reindeer statue or two, and hundreds of tiny snowflakes hanging from your chandelier. Because in my fantasy, you have a chandelier. Your guests enter your dining room and take in your flawless place settings. Of course, you’ve used your “company plates” and your grandmother’s heirloom silver place settings. Your homemade cranberry sauce* will add a wonderful splash of color to the meal.
If you’re like me, you don’t have a whole lot of time to cook things, and you’re basically just going to be heating up things that you purchased pre-made from Omaha Steaks, Sea Bear Smokehouse or Magic Kitchen. Sure, it might be a waste of your brand new double convection oven, but the food is Just. So. Good. And So. Easy! But the lack of actual cooking might not fill your home with delicious scents. What’s a host to do? I’ve always found Yankee Candles to have one of the longest lasting scents. Pick one that complements your home, and light her up!
*Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce (adapted from EatLiveRun)
1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp bourbon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Step 1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil until cranberries burst.
Step 2. EAT.
Pro Tip: Cooling the cranberry sauce will cause it to gel up, but you can – and absolutely should – at least try this stuff while it’s still warm.
Posted: Friday, December 16, 2016