The Holiday Card Letter

Remember the folded up letters tucked inside greeting cards that were often printed out on Christmas-y stationary and several paragraphs of what the family has been up to? That is what this is. I have never done one and thought this would be the year to start. You may have already read my reflective posts below about how 2020 has been so I thought I would just try to give a nice little recap of the year since we hardly saw anyone this year except on social media. I have missed my long talks with friends and family, they’ve been far and few between. I know this is only a one-way conversation but it may still re-connect us a little. At least that is the hope.

This year was just as much a whirlwind for us as everyone else. We are grateful that we have not suffered greatly during this pandemic as other families have. We have our jobs, our home and health. I have been working from home since March 19th and Hugo’s school had shut down the week prior to that. This flipped our routine on its head. For the next few months, we reestablished what would come to be our new normal as we quietly watched the world reach where we find ourselves today. Seriously, what a ride.

The spring was spent in lockdown taking all the precautions. We didn’t see friends or family, we left surprises on the doorstep of family and waved from our car as we doorbell dashed, we zoomed, took long walks on the trail around our neighborhood, groceries were delivered, TP and sanitizer was scarce, and I just have to say—the world felt scary. The saving grace was the sense of security and calm I felt at home. I’ve never been more grateful for my introverted home body tendencies. I would seriously go full weeks without ever leaving the house apart from trail walks, and never got stir crazy. How weird am I? We got very creative about how to make the days feel different from one to the next. We planted some seeds to grow in little pods in our dining room that we transferred to pots on the patio. It went ok, we have LOTS to learn about gardening. Once the weather warmed up, casual play and picnics outside became the norm. Kris and I would often enjoy some wine on the patio while the kids played and it **KIND OF** felt like we were on a tiny date. We took the win. We celebrated the kids birthdays at home and family came for visits of well wishes on the patio.

Summer was full of outdoor play, outdoor toys, swimmies and water. As the temperatures got hotter, we invested in more shade devices so they didn’t bake and bake as they played for hours outside. The alternative was to spend time in the same place they had been for the last few months. The extension of our living space was needed. In July, Hugo’s school opened back up and we enrolled Hugo and Cora for two half days. It was a strange time to start Cora in school, but she hit the ground running and has loved every second. This was a really nice way to shake up the week and give the kids some other interactions. By this time, we would engage in small family gatherings where the kids could see their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. And lastly, we took a handful of long weekends to Lake Tahoe where we spent both our birthdays. Sometimes just a Friday to Sunday, others a Thursday to Monday. Each time, we’d come home refreshed after the change of scenery. These really helped a pandemic summer move along. The kids absolutely loved playing in the sand at the beach. They were so content to stay and play. When Hugo and Cora were younger, beach days were exhausting because they’d want to be everywhere but our beach camp. Things clicked into place and made the time at the beach a joy for all.

As the fall semester approached, we were not anticipating me still working from home and for there to still be a pandemic. We toiled over what to do for Hugo as he was to enter the public school in our neighborhood and begin his Kindergarten adventure. We could not imagine him starting school within such uncertain times and resolved to enroll him for the private kindergarten at their pre-school. This was a relief and far less stressful then having to deal with the public school system (I love you educators!!! This was just new school mom jitters). And so, Hugo and Cora went off to school each day and our once exhausted nanny went from three wildlings to just one. We celebrated our eighth anniversary with a dinner out at the Wild River Grille. What a treat!

The fall was full of many things. The sky was full of smoke for so much of august and September, the philosophical divides between masks and presidents ravaged the headlines and the pandemic worsened. Around the time despair began to creep in to my feelings, Kris saved the day and invested in our physical and mental health with a Peloton exercise bike. I could have a whole post on all the ways this bike has made such a positive impact but the best thing about it was timing. For me, the world was feeling so ugly, and the community I was able to connect with, lessened those feelings. We spent Thanksgiving home, just us. I cooked the whole meal and enjoyed every single minute of it. Truly. Time in the kitchen, to work through the steps of a recipe, feels so satisfying. Perhaps it’s because a feeling of completion in parenthood or life in general is somewhat fleeting as things can often seem so endless (to do lists, cleaning, meals, repeat), the ability to start something and finish it brought me so much joy. It is funny though—more than a full day’s work was finished in about 15 minutes of sitting at the table and eating.  

As we near the end of the year, I don’t see much changing with the start of the new year. I know everyone is anxious to say goodbye to 2020, but I anticipate much of our daily life staying the same. I’ll continue to work from our downstairs office at home, the kids will be attending school with temperature screenings, we will likely continue to limit our socializing outside of family and will keep learning the lessons we’ve been learning all year. I’ll patiently wait for this pandemic to subside and for new versions of the old normal to return. While I will truly look back on this year as personally transformative, it was not without its challenges, despite the rosey memories I share above. Our marriage, parenting style, finances, friendships/relationships, and more, were hit with significant challenges that we continue to work through. Nobody said life was easy, that’s for sure. But just like all of you, we all have stories to share, and we hold on to the positive and let go of the negative. So I hope this blog post finds you healthy and happy and enjoying the holiday season, however you plan to spend it. I also hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how things have been for the Kent Family. I’m fine, we’re fine, its all fine. The end 😉

Holiday Feast 2011

DSCN5299 DSCN5316

DSCN5321 DSCN5301Enjoy the recipes I cooked for some friends last weekend! It was quite an ordeal but a success nonetheless and a good experience for future nights of fancy hosting!

Sweet-and-Salty Pecans (Martha Stewart)


Vegetable oil cooking spray

½ cup packed light-brown sugar

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

coarse salt

pound pecans (4 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Stir together sugar, cream, and ¾ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add pecans, and stir until well coated. Spread pecans on baking sheet in an even layer.

2. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until browned and toasted, 20 to 22 minutes. Sprinkle pecans  with ¾ teaspoon salt, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let cooI.


Peanut Butter Cup Stuffed Ginger Cookies (Rachel Ray)


3 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp salt

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup molasses

36 miniature peanut buttercups, such as Reese’s, chilled

Confectioners sugar, for rolling

1.ln a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Whisk in the ginger, cinnamon, pepper and salt.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on high speed until smooth, light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the egg for 30 seconds, then mix in the molasses. Scrape down the bowl. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to help, form the dough into a disk and seal tightly. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment. Working with 1 tbsp of dough at a time, mold the dough around each peanut butter cup to enclose completely. Place 12dough balls on each of the prepared pans. Bake until the tops are just set and slightly cracked, 12 to 14 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool for5 minutes.

4. Roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar. then return to the rack to cool completely. Roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar again before serving.

Spinach Dip (Martha Stewart)


This dip tastes best cold. Chill the avocados in advance if serving the dip immediately. Baby spinach can be used, but regular spinach will provide more texture and fiber.

½ cup finely chopped shallots (from 2 large shallots)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (from 3 cloves)

10 ounces spinach, rinsed well

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 medium-ripe Hass avocados. chilled

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons

fresh lemon juice

12 ounces sugar snap peas

9 small slices pumpernickel bread cut into triangles

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic, stirring often until tender, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and ¾ teaspoon salt. Cook, covered until wilted, about 4 minutes. Uncover. Cook until liquid evaporates, about 7 minutes. Refrigerate until cooled, about 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, puree avocados, yogurt, lemon juice, and 1,4 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth. Season with pepper. Finely chop spinach mixture. Stir in avocado puree. Serve with snap peas and bread for dipping.


Clam Dip (Kent family recipe)

ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes or so

1 square pack of cream cheese

1 can of chopped clams

1 tbs of lemon juice

1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce

1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped (or 1 tsp of minced garlic from a jar)

Combine all ingredients, including approximately 1/3 of juice from the can of clams and mix with electric mixer.

Butternut Squash Soup with Poppy Seeds (Skinny Bitch)


1 Large butternut squash

2 tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 tbs grapeseed oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 qt vegetable stock

½ cup water

1 large red apple, chopped

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp agave nectar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp dried sage

¼ cup poppy seeds for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise, creating two equal halves. Scoop the seeds and place squash, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle each squash half with 1 tbs of the olive oil to create a small pool of oil in the cavity. Put one garlic clove in each cavity. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the squash in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool. When cooled, peel off the squash skin and cut the squash into large chunks. Reserve the garlic cloves.

In a large pot, heat the grapeseed oil on medium heat. Add the onion, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and the water. Add in the butternut squash, apple, and the two baked garlic cloves. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until the apple is very tender. The squash should already be tender. Remove from the heat and pour half of the soup into a food processor or blender. Let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the remaining soup in the pan to cool. Puree the soup until smooth. Add the remaining soup and blend together until creamy. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the ginger, agave nectar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sage. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with the poppy seeds.

Tuscan-Style Turkey Alla Porchetta (Martha Stewart)



If you can, order your turkey from a local farm, and ask for it to be boned with the skin on. The wing and leg bones should be removed, and the turkey tenders should be included. Make sure you have the wing tips, neck, and giblets for the gravy. Rolling the turkey ensures that each slice will include both light and dark meat.

15 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele prosciutto

1 whole boned, skin-on pasture-raised heritage turkey (10 to 12 pounds), wing tips, neck, and giblets reserved for Giblet Gravy

Flaked sea salt

3 tablespoons minced garlic

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons tender fennel fronds, finely chopped

¼ cup fennel seeds, coarsely ground

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange prosciutto slices vertically side by side on a cutting board, overlapping each by 1/2 inch. Place turkey, skin side down. on the prosciutto slices, with wings at top and legs at bottom. Arrange turkey tenders at each side to fill in the space between the wings and legs.

2, Sprinkle turkey with 2 tablespoons salt, including the back side of the tenders and under any other loose pieces of meat. Sprinkle garlic, fennel fronds, fennel seeds, rosemary and sage evenly over turkey. Arrange turkey so there are no separations (turkey should be in one even layer).

3. Starting from the bottom, roll turkey tightly with prosciutto, keeping prosciutto in place. Tie together with kitchen twine at 3-inch intervals.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Brown rolled turkey on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a roasting rack set on a large rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting

pan. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center reaches 165° and juices run clear, about 50 minutes. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with gravy.

Giblet Gravy (Martha Stewart)



The base of this full-flavored gravy is a stock that includes the turkey’s giblets, wing tips, and neck. Start the gravy as the rolled turkey is browning.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Reserved wing tips, neck, and giblets from Tuscan Style Turkey alla Porchetta

2 celery stalks, sliced lengthwise into 2-inch pieces

1 onion, ends trimmed, unblemished skin left on, quartered

1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise

½ cup dry white wine

4 cups water

1 tablespoon celery seeds

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 fresh bay leaf

1 sprig flat-leaf parsley

1 thyme sprig

1 sage leaf

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

coarse salt

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Brown wing tips, neck, and giblets, about 3 minutes per side, and transfer to a plate. Add remaining tablespoon oil to saucepan. Cook celery, onion, and carrot, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and simmer, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom, until liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

2. Return wing tips, neck, and giblets to pan along with water, celery seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and sage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered for 1 hour. Strain stock through a fine sieve ; discard solids.

3. Wipe out sauce pan. Reduce heat to low. Add butter, and melt. Add flour, and cook, sirring occasionally, for 3 minutes (do not let flour brown). Gradually wisk in 3 cups of warm stock. Simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt.

Storage Gravy can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

Jillian & Kristopher’s Mashers (Serendipity)

Serves 15

3 pounds of golden or red potatoes

2-3 tablespoons of minced garlic

½ cube of butter

1 ½ cups plain fat free Greek yogurt

salt and pepper

Boil or bake your mashed potatoes until soft. In a large bowl, combine cooked potatoes with skin with all other ingredients and mash with a spoon or mix with beaters. Adjust garlic, salt, pepper, butter and yogurt amounts according to taste.

Pecan Green Beans (Rachel Ray)


1 lb string beans

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 tbsp EVOO

Salt and pepper

½ cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the beans until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Toss with the parsley, zest and EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Top with the pecans just before serving.

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding (Rachel Ray)


1 loaf panettone (Italian holiday bread)

3 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

2 cups half-and-half

¼ cup dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 to ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Vegetable cooking spray

Optional Accompaniments

Vanilla ice cream

Whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 475°F.

Place a kettle of water on to boil. With a serrated knife, remove the side crusts from the panettone. Cut the bread into %~ to I-inch dice. You should have 5 cups. Place the cubed panettone in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, thoroughly whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, half-and-half, rum, vanilla, and a healthy grating of fresh nutmeg. Pour this over the bread cubes. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable cooking spray. Ladle the bread-eggnog mixture gently and evenly into the muffin cups. Some big cubes sticking up look nice. Place the filled muffin tin in a high-rimmed baking sheet or a large roasting pan. Transfer to the preheated oven and carefully pour the hot water from the kettle into the pan, creating a water bath for the muffin tin to sit in.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bread pudding may be served warm or cold. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would be great accompaniments.