- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (November 2, 2015)
With its snowy streets, pine forests, sleigh rides and woodsmoke curling from the chimneys, Vermont was practically invented for the Christmas postcard. And no one celebrates the season better than Ellen Stimson, author of the best-selling Mud Season, and now the author and home cook behind this cozy new collection of holiday magic.
From warm drinks for the first snowfall to treats for furry friends, from indulgent snacks for carolers to a traditional menu for Christmas day, An Old-Fashioned Christmas will keep you and your loved ones eating, drinking, laughing and baking all through the holiday season.
Anyone who loved Mud Season will remember Stimson’s hilarious and heartwarming stories of life in her small Vermont town—and An Old-Fashioned Christmas brings her trademark touch to holiday memories new and old. Readers will be inspired to begin their own family traditions like the Stimsons’ annual Christmas Adventure, the collection of nostalgic tree ornaments, and of course, the legendary Christmas party attended by friends and family from all over. This is a book you will return to year after year.
A guide to celebrating Christmas in proper Vermont style—from sleigh rides to country stores—rounds out this deeply personal and completely delicious collection. The 98 homey recipes in this book will soon become annual favorites for your family too, including:
Maple Pecan Cookies
Root Beer Pulled Pork
Maple, Fennel, Sausage and Cheddar Meatballs
“I’ve been a little uneasy about Christmas for a long time and now I shall stop. ‘A festival of debauchery’. I like that idea. A big party. Cut out the stuff you don’t enjoy. And a whole raft of stimulating recipes. And a good snowstorm. Wonderful——Garrison Keillor
Buy, read, and discuss An Old-Fashioned Christmas
Ellen Stimson is a bread-and-butter homecook…possibly more butter than bread. Her table is usually overflowing with friends, family, and folks who have come just to listen to her stories. Some of those tales made it into her bestselling memoir, Mud Season. She cooks and writes from a farmhouse in Vermont.
Connect with Ellen
The vast majority of the books I review for TLC Book Tours (and other publicity companies) come to me as digital copies, by my request. I was a quick convert to the joys of Kindle-reading, and love having an entire library in my hands all the time. When I was offered the opportunity to review this book, An Old-Fashioned Christmas: Sweet Traditions from Hearth and Home, however, something in my gut told me to request the hardcover version, and I’m glad I did, because even though I live in North-Central Texas where we had winter on a Thursday last year, we do have a cool and rainy season that would be made so much warmer and cozier with a lot of these recipes. (Coffee Encrusted Skirt Steak is already on the must-try list, as is Curried Cauliflower.)
I was in Mexico when the book finally arrived at my door, and that saddens me only because I didn’t have time to play in the kitchen before writing this review. Like Ellen, the author (I hope it’s okay that I call her Ellen – we’ve never interacted in any way, but I feel a kind of kinship with her) I’m a homecook who doesn’t measure. I call my cooking style Kitchen Improv. For this reason, I was nodding and smiling while reading her notes about the recipes being guides rather than strict rules. Cooking should have room for personal taste and flair, and I love that she acknowledges that.
I also really responded to her stories about her personal traditions – this book is as much memoir as cookbook – and her comment that her ornaments would be among the first things saved from a fire really hit home for me. My own ornaments have been collected, one at a time, throughout my entire life. I’m 45, and have been married almost 21 years, and to this day, my mother says that one of her saddest experiences was the year she packed MY ornaments separate from her own.
My personal response aside, however, this wonderful book is a treasure of recipes and ideas. The book itself manages to evoke Vermont with a sturdy cover with red and white as predominant colors. The pages inside are the glossy paper one expects of high-quality cookbooks, and the photos of both the ornaments and the food are exquisite. The recipes range from main dishes (Winter Suppers) to pastries, from side dishes to savory breads, and while some of them are quite rich hearty, if you use fresh, real ingredients they’re really not unhealthy. (Well, the loaded mashed potatoes are not an everyday food, but…)
The tone of the book is also quite accessible. Ellen Stimson writes in a voice that makes you feel like you’re swapping recipes and stories with your best friend or (depending on your age) a favorite aunt. I haven’t read her memoir, Mud Season, but you can bet I just added it to my Amazon wishlist (along with one of those French rolling pins that are a solid cylinder rather than a dowel with handles).
If you love winter, the holiday season, family traditions, or just cozy cooking, you will love this book.
Goes well with: homemade sugar-glazed doughnuts (p 254) and freshly brewed coffee.
One lucky winner in the US or Canada can win a copy of An Old-Fashioned Chistmas: Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home.
To enter: Leave a comment on this entry (include a working email address – only I will see it) telling me about your favorite ornament or favorite holiday tradition. (It doesn’t have to be Christmas – if you have a Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Yule, or secular winter tradition, tell me about that).
You can also find my tweet about this review (I’m @melysse on Twitter) and retweet it (make sure I’m tagged).
Contest is open until 11:59 PM CST on Tuesday, November 17th.
Winner will be notified by email (or Twitter), and must provide their mailing address, which will be forwarded to the publicist for fulfillment.
Monday, November 9th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, November 10th: (Never) Homemaker
Wednesday, November 11th: Bibliotica
Thursday, November 12th: Under My Apple Tree
Friday, November 13th: I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Monday, November 16th: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Wednesday, November 18th: Majorly Delicious
Wednesday, November 18th: Open Book Society
Thursday, November 19th: The Things We Read
Monday, November 23rd: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, November 24th: Time 2 Read
Wednesday, November 25th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Friday, November 27th: Joyfully Retired
Monday, November 30th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, December 2nd: girlichef
Friday, December 4th: A Chick Who Reads