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Prepping for the holidays

List is long, but heart is full of joy

Considering topics for my column this week, I kept getting distracted with my to-do lists for the upcoming week and a half before the holiday.

Knowing it wouldn’t be productive to multitask, I decided to combine tasks. First thing I need to do is make a cooking list, followed by a shopping list.

Then I need a few last-minute gifts, some of which I can make — put those on the list.

One of my favorite recipes, which can double as a gift is chocolate truffles. These tasty treats are incredibly easy to make but are also a crowd pleaser — anyone on your list who likes chocolates will be delighted to get homemade chocolate truffles this (or any) season.

My go-to base recipe is 12 ounces of good quality chocolate or chocolate chips, a quarter cup of heavy cream and two tablespoons butter. First, I warm the cream in a small sauce pan, just until bubbles form around the edge, not until scalding.

Then I pour in the chocolate, stirring as it melts. Once the cream and chocolate are combined, I add in butter, stirring until it melts as well.

Sometimes I stop there, let the mix cool, roll into balls and roll in cocoa powder. Other times, I experiment. I’ve added wine or liquor, infused the cream with tea or spices. The only tricky part is using liquids — too much makes the truffles too soft to roll. The fix for this is to eat the mix with a spoon.

After a few batches of truffles, I will switch to making gifts for the kiddos on my list. Making a sock monkey requires a pair of socks, some stuffing, a needle and thread and any accessories to make the monkey look extra cute.

With socks on hand, another gift for a kiddo comes to mind — sock puppets. These require less sewing, more hot glue and some extra scraps of fabric to craft ears and mouths.

Once, like one of Santa’s elves, I’ve checked crafting off my to-do list it will be time to add more evergreen garlands (as I made for my DIY feature last weekend) for my house.

Then it’ll be back to the kitchen, because later this week family and I will celebrate my daughter’s birthday with a fancy tea party.

Of course it will include cake, so I need to think of special savory bakes for the rest of the meal.

Freshly baked bread will be a key component in this meal, to support a variety of toppings, including a vegetarian “chicken” salad recipe — chickpeas, an apple, celery and onion with homemade dressing and an herb mix.

Because no tea party is complete without scones, I may try my hand at savory scones — spinach and feta may do the trick.

Which reminds me, I need to add the ingredients for a delicious buckwheat scone recipe to my shopping list, to make later in the week for a family breakfast.

Then of course, I have to wrap gifts (in fabric and zero waste papers and cloth ribbons, decorated with stamps and holly leaves as is my goal for this year).

Before that I have to finish my shopping list, to be sure I have all the items on it for my family’s traditional Lithuanian Christmas Eve dinner — a meal of 12 dishes, including my favorite mushroom-stuffed dumplings.

My to-do list is long, but my heart is full of the joy the season, family and friends bring.

ALDONA BIRD is a journalist, exploring possibilities of local productivity and sustainable living in Preston County.