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family gingerbread
Left: Kimberlee's father, Jerry, with his sisters - Eunice, Dolores, Irene, and Alice. Right: One of Kim's amazing gingerbread houses.

Both of my parents come from large families, so our holiday traditions are centered on tables laden with homemade food. This time of the year makes me think about the recipes that were common on our holiday table. I was an exceptionally picky eater growing up, but it was because my family was full of amazing cooks who spoiled me with the best home cooking ever! At Christmas, my nose would curl at the smell of Grandma's purple German cabbage dish she made for my mother. However, more enticing to my brother and me were the warm molasses cookies. She always had a batch ready to roll out in the refrigerator, tracing our hand prints and then decorating them for us. I still make Grandma’s cookies for my boys and occasionally have used the recipe to make gingerbread houses when I’m feeling extra creative. I'm happy to share Grandma's cookie recipe with all of you - DOWNLOAD IT HERE!

Rolls Waffle Stuffing
Aunt Bunny's famous rolls, left. If you read Kim's Thanksgiving blog, then you know why she has included her stuffing waffles from this year's Thanksgiving leftover round-up! Another great  idea for leftovers is Kim's Kale & Butternut Squash Bruschetta - DOWNLOAD THE RECIPE.

Aunt Marie was a rural USPS carrier, so the holidays found her house well-stocked with tins of cookies from all her neighbors along the route. She always has something delicious roasting in the oven and a never-ending supply of ice cream from the family dairy. They love that I have become a reliable source for better wine than the basement blackberry wine my uncle made from time to time. My uncle Walt was a lumberjack and his wife, Bunny, still makes the best homemade dinner rolls - much to the chagrin of my mother, who was asked more times than she would care to admit why she couldn’t make rolls like Aunt Bunny. It was after all her mother’s recipe!  

Aunts and custard
Kim's aunts: Wanda, Bunny, and Marie. Aunt Eunice's corn custard.

The true gourmet of the family was always Aunt Eunice. Everything she made was perfectly delicious. It is both her  recipes for corn custard and chocolate mousse pie that are requested at my house now for the holidays. My Aunt Dolores probably doesn’t know that her rum cake recipe has become one of my most requested cake recipes here at the winery when someone has a birthday. Aunt Irene taught me to make breakfast casserole that can be prepared the night before to make holiday entertaining easier when you want to sleep in or open presents. And my Aunt Alice was always spoiling her nieces and nephews with care packages. I especially loved her Oregon State Fair award-winning banana bread!

Going home - Willipa Bay, Astoria Bridge, Cape Disappointment.

But, it is the smell of going home for the holidays that I love most! From the minute that I catch that first whiff of the salty sea as we get close to my parents, my heart starts to beat faster. My parents live on the Washington coast, so having oysters is a necessity during the holidays with a little cold Sauvignon blanc to wash them down! This is the scene on Christmas through New Year as we attempt to finish the 40-pound bag of oysters that my parents have purchased for the holidays.  I know when I walk in the front door of my parents’ house, something delicious will greet me. Whether it is a roasting chicken, homemade rolls (almost like Aunt Bunny makes) or a hot blackberry pie cooling on a rack, it is time to indulge and know this is no time for a diet. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone - hope to see you all happy, healthy, and ready for more wine in 2016!

- Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

wine oysters and workout
Kim's Aunts Wanda & Marie with their wine. Charlie, Jerry, & Kent enjoying oysters. Get ready for the New Year workout!