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There was a time, only a few months ago, when shakshuka wasn’t part of my cooking rotation.

I’d come across these eggs, baked with Moroccan or Tunisian ingredients – usually a mix of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, and sometimes with some additional spice (e.g. harissa) and/or cheese (e.g. feta). Smitten Kitchen has a version, the New York Times has one too, David Lebovitz – well, of course, he’s based in Paris, a city that thrives on North African food. The Italians even have a version, called “Eggs in Purgatory”. Shakshuka is – as my 102-year-old grandmother would say – all the rage. Check out Feed Feed where your search for shakshuka will deliver nearly 200 results. That’s a lot of spicy eggs.

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Once you’ve made shakshuka – or any kind of spicy baked egg dish, you’ll see why it’s become so popular.

1. It’s super simple, taking only minutes to cook…just a little more tim than it would take to remove the dreaded Eggo from the freezer, pop it into the toaster, and be doused in maple syrup.

2. It’s endlessly adaptable….this version of shakshuka has barely any tomato – and virtually no sauce. The eggs are cooked in a bed of onion and green pepper, and then topped with whatever ingredients I had available in the fridge. Add this dish to the arsenal of fridge dumping meals that includes fried rice and vegetarian lasagna. And don’t we all need a few more fridge dumping meals in our lives? Your wilting vegetables would clearly prefer a spicy shakshuka fate than a trip to the garbage can.

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It’s December 29, just a few short days before New Year’s Eve. I’m spent from this holiday. In a good way…but suffering from that specific type of exhaustion that comes from raising young kids.

Today was more of the usual: we made breakfast, we cleaned. I cleaned. We got dressed for skiing. We drove to the ski resort where the green Magic Carpet still isn’t open. I walked their skis up the bunny hill. I chased them down. I yelled “pizza not French fries! Don’t forget the pizza!” They prefer French fries. Skis railroaded, out of control, heading towards netting, SLOW signs and other beginners. Nobody was injured, at least not today.

I drove back home. They took naps while I dreamt that one day, I might be able to take one of those again.

I went grocery shopping. We made sandwiches for dinner. Sam no longer likes avocado. Emma no longer likes crusts. Fortunately she doesn’t ask me to cut them. She just rips them off her sandwich and scatters them onto the floor. Crusts no longer interest Jackson either. He sits and waits for the high-ticket items: the dropped turkey slice; the leftover cheese.

And me? I’m biding my time until 8:30PM when I can give the kids a nuzzle, tuck them in, fix myself a warm milk & Bailey’s and relax in bed with a good read. I have so many photos to share from the holidays, but I’m saving them until next week. Next week, life gets back on track, work resumes, the kids are back at school, and I can ease myself back into the business of blogging. With some exciting new directions for this space, so stay tuned.

Until then, I wanted to share with you some images that I took a few weeks ago at the launch party for the new Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. I was covering social media that evening for Tarallucci e Vino, the museum’s new restaurant, so the images are iphone only, but still give a sense for the space. The new Cooper Hewitt Museum is housed in the old Carnegie mansion, built in 1899. The juxtaposition of old and new design is omnipresent, and highlighted by the modern Tarallucci e Vino café, which sits on the ground floor of the Museum.

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I’m on a one-woman mission to save the rutabaga.

Which, according to my research today, is also called a “Swede” in Europe. I was in the midst of making a Scotch broth soup with my leftover holiday lamb and Jamie Oliver advised that I should chop up a Swede and throw it into the pot along with my vegetables.

Perhaps a soup for Jeffrey Dahmer, but I vow to keep my soups human-free. Let’s refer to rutabaga using its North American lingo. And to complicate things with one more rule, let’s avoid the common Southern pronunciation “ruda-beggers” which is even more worrisome than “Swede”.

If you’re A) from Europe or B) from the South and would like return the linguistic praise, feel free. I’m Canadian and come pre-packaged with a hot mess of language issues. I call the garbage disposal a “garberator”, pronounce basil with a soft “a” and if you steal my two-four, there might be a kerfuffle, but I can be easily repaid in peameal bacon. If it dribbles I’ll just wipe my face with a serviette.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk soup.

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You may recall that I introduced rutabaga to my kids as part of our mystery food challenge. One of the interesting observations was that rutabaga smells and tastes a little like broccoli. Lauren mentioned it first, and I guffawed but then brought the object right under my nose, and sure enough, the essence of broccoli itself.

I had visited the farmer’s market last weekend and bought two more rutabagas. Broccoli is a favorite in our house, making rutabagas appealing by proxy. They’re easy to prep- just peel off the skin and dice them for a stove-top simmer or a long, slow roast.

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‘Tis the time of year for baking, snuggling, Christmas-cake-eating, roaring-fire-making-and-setting-off-the-fire-alarming, and general hunkering, not otherwise specified. Which means logging off the computer for as much time as I can muster…Hope everyone is likewise enjoying the holiday season!

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Lauren’s birthday is four days before Christmas, which makes for some interesting challenges around the holidays. Just when I’ve gotten through November which includes Sam’s birthday and Thanksgiving, we’re bearing down on the end of December, full-throttle.

I’ve never been one to throw big birthday parties for my kids. We usually go the homemade birthday cake + celebrate at home route. Lauren especially loves to spend the day with me in the kitchen making a big layer cake and planning her birthday dinner courses.

This year her selections are 1) chicken tostadas with guacamole (as Emma likes to say, “mock ‘n molé” and I will die a silent death when she stops referring to it as such), 2) beef and bean nachos, and 3) a candy cane birthday cake.

With 3 boxes of unwrapped Christmas gifts stashed in my room yesterday and my parents’ imminent arrival from Toronto, I felt like my head was spinning when we arrived at the lake for our 2-week stay. Holidays are challenging. The world’s tiniest violin is playing softly in the background, I know, I know. To be burdened with too many birthday dinners to cook and gifts to wrap. But the holidays always take me off guard. I know that they’ll be busy, but I never anticipate the kind of frenzy that sweeps through my home and keeps me on my feet for days on end.

Luckily the holidays come with a few perks. Yes, I’m the chief giver in the house, orchestrating a mass distribution of gifts that are seamlessly ordered through Amazon and then painstakingly unboxed, categorized, wrapped and given on Christmas morning. But I also receive a few gifts that put a smile on my face.

One of those gifts this year was a box from Quarterly. Quarterly sends a box of hand-picked items every three months (hence the name) from one of its well-known curators including Food 52, Chef Ludo of Top Chef fame, Grace Bonney, the talent behind the popular blog Design Sponge. If you’re still looking for unique holiday gifts, check them out at Quarterly.co.

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(included in box: Ana striped tapers, Rifle floral composition notebook, Cotton + Flax coasters, A Heirloom cutting board, Kusmi tea, Furbish studio matches)

I received Grace’s Design Sponge box, which came just in time for Lauren’s birthday marathon, which aside from cooking more Mexican food than I have in the past year, included her Christmas-inspired candy cane birthday cake. I had reservations about the cake idea (vanilla peppermint buttercream anyone?), but it was her creation and it was surprisingly good. Sam had three slices, after claiming post-Mexican feast that he was too full for dessert. Perhaps Lauren should help me write recipes more often.

Fueled with tea, our day looked a little something like this…

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