Updated 2009-06-02 17:34:32 ID=222:0

© 2008 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Susan McGourty's Table Talk, a California Central Coast Lifestyle blog. 2011-06-09 16:33:16:80
©2008 The Romantic Table

Susan McGourty's Table Talk

Stressing-out Over the Holidays

Hyperventilating over the Holidays! Are you stressed-out? I know I am!

It's getting closer to Christmas and boy am I ever sweating it! I am getting so stressed-out just thinking about all I have to do-it'll be a miracle if I don't breakdown over it! Maybe it's just me-but when I face Christmas, it always seems that it's an insurmountable hurdle for me to pull-off,

First of all there's the "big push" to get all the presents off to our relatives back East. I really try hard to send them things that they'll appreciate and not just toss aside. Though we had to cutback this year on gifts, it still took a pickup and a Jeep Cherokee to haul all those presents down to the UPS store. And don't even mention the corporate UPS! --They were especially hard to deal with -not to mention expensive -this year!

Now the next big hurdle for me is so scary that I hate to even mention it! For most of the last few years, we try to hold a small Christmas dinner party a few days before Christmas. (So that those friends that have their own family Christmas celebration can do so without conflict.) Now because we have a "reputation" for good cooking, we always try to "best ourselves --or at least stay equal" to the previous year's party caliber. There is one constant though --- and that's the scary part! --It's the "grande finale'"--it's the "legendary" New York Style Cheesecake!

This recipe goes way back to my husband's grandmother who worked as a personal chef for the people that founded Edison Electric in New York. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law and make it about once a year.---I'd make it more often but it's too scary!!! You may not understand just how terrifying this is for me. I swear, you just look at this cake and you gain half a pound! You guys out there just don't know how hard it is for most women to keep their weight in check. I exercise an hour and a half a day, eat extremely healthy food and it's still a battle. My husband gets a kick out of me (us women) who go on about their weight. My husband says that he believes when one women looks at another women, it's only to compare the other woman's weight to their own! Perhaps he's right (but only part of the time!)

This cheesecake weighs a good five pounds if it weighs an once. Everything (fattening) goes in it. A pound of butter, a pound of cottage cheese, six jumbo eggs, a pound of cream cheese, a pound of sour cream---not to mention the sugar, lemons, vanilla extract and graham crackers for the crust.---But oh is it delicious!! The REAL scary part of the cake though, is being able to make, bake and let it cool without causing a crack on the top. My husband's mother was unable to prevent the "the crack" --but for some reason, I've been able to pull off making it without "the crack!"

It's always a challenge to see if I can make it without this flaw. God knows I try!! Actually my best cheesecakes have occurred when I was cooking on "auto-pilot." I feel just like a failure if it's not up to par. I'm sure people think I take cooking way too seriously! I probably do --but that's only when I'm entertaining guests. Luckily when I cook just for my husband and myself (we both know how dependent we are on the suppliers and don't fault each other) that I relax and "go with the flow!" When I'm cooking just for us, it's really fun! -It's only when I entertain that it gets scary. And a funny phenomena happens when I'm eating my own food with others at the table: My mouth loses all its taste buds and I can't taste anything! Obviously this must happen due to me being "unnerved", but honestly, when people are complementing the food, I normally think that they're "just being polite." It's not until we're by ourselves again, and if there's something left I taste it, that I realize that it actually tastes pretty good!

Well the gifts are off, our renovated Victorian offices on Vine Street are decorated for the annual Christmas Victorian Showcase Celebration for the city this upcoming weekend, now we can start decorating our house and get ready to start our real celebration of Christmas! Cooking some fun food and sharing it with our friends. I'll just have to take each day at a time, do what I can and hope for the best. My immediate next challenge, is "rounding-up" all the ingredients for the planned menu of our dinner party. The menu between now and then, is up for ideas and I'll "play that by ear." I hope that if you're as much a "nervous-Nellie" about your Christmas plans as I am, you can talk yourself into rationalizing that it's really not that bad! Just put a couple of "nerve-blinders" on, take a deep breath, and try to trudge on and get through it and remember, the BEST "cheesecakes" happen when you're not over-thinking a problem and work on "auto-pilot!"

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A tip from Sue!

No cheese on seafood please!

When serving an Italian seafood dish, unless the recipe specifically calls for cheese, grated Parmesan cheese on top is not a good idea!

The pungent taste of Parmesan is usually too strong for the delicate fish flavors.