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Winter Holiday Fireside Moments: Interview with Avery Aames

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It’s that time of year when the chill in the frosty air brings us indoors to hunker down with thick comforters and mugs of steaming hot chocolate overflowing with fluffy marshmallows.  When holiday music and movies become the soundtrack to our everyday home lives. When we gather ‘round the fire for company, drink, food and love.  When we are celebrating and remembering those we treasure and hold near and dear.  When the real meaning of the season is family – by our DNA or by our heart.  When we reflect and give thanks for all we have. In a nutshell, unconditional love.

 I’d like to welcome Avery Aames to share the beauty of the season with us.  Avery Aames pens the Agatha Award winning, nationally bestselling A Cheese Shop Mystery Series. The third in the series, Clobbered by Camembert, comes out February, 2012. Avery is the pseudonym for Daryl Wood Gerber. Prior to her career as a novelist, Daryl (aka Avery) created the format for the TV sitcom Out of this World.  She was also an actress and co-starred on Murder, She Wrote. She loves to cook, read, golf, and garden.


Favorite Holiday tradition?

Christmas Day, the whole day.  First, opening presents while having coffee and juice — the excitement is just too much for kids to sit down to a meal yet. Then we have brunch, usually go to a movie, and return to my favorite all-time meal, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (except now I have to make gluten-free pudding for myself…still yummy). I also love…and this is very special to me…saying grace before the evening meal, giving thanks for all that we have. I have been very blessed.

Favorite childhood toy?

I remember my doll, Susie. She was adorable with brown curls, a sweet smile, and eyes that opened and closed. About a month after I got her, she had to go to the doll hospital. When she came home, she looked a little different, but I loved her just the same.

Favorite childhood game?

Clue. Figuring out who was in which rooming doing what dastardly deed. Loved it. Still love it.

Snow ball fight or making snow families?

I was born and raised in California. I didn’t do either over the holidays. When we went skiing during the winter, snowball fights. Definitely.

Sleigh rides, sledding or skiing?

Again, California girl…didn’t do any of these growing up. Rats. My family watched White Christmas every year and I loved that closing scene when the barn doors opened and the snow was falling. Wow. Magic.

Favorite Holiday song?

White Christmas, of course. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. And I love The Bells of Christmas and Joy to the World.  [Have you ever heard the rendition by Natalie Cole? It’s something special!]

Favorite holiday movie?

White Christmas  as well as It’s a Wonderful Life. I have never missed a year seeing this one. Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal still makes me cry, it’s so special. And then, of course, A Christmas Carol – the original.

Favorite holiday story to read?

In addition to the original Christmas story [I don’t want to get all religious here, but I do read that account — again, magical], I love the story about the “Gift of the Magi” by O’Henry. The story of sacrifice is such a beautiful allegory.

Snow on holiday eve or just a chill in the air?

California Girl likes both. In recent years, I have lived both in North Carolina and Connecticut and enjoyed chilly and wintry Christmas Eves. The snap in the air holds tremendous expectation.

Most memorable holiday memory?

My son’s first Christmas. He was almost a year old and already on his feet and running. Oh, the joy! We built him a rocking horse on Christmas Eve. (Note to parents: always do the building weeks before if you can. The night before? Crazy.) But he bounced on that rocking chair all Christmas morning.

Did you eat popcorn balls as a kid? If you did, do you still?

I did as a girl. I haven’t had a popcorn ball in years. Wow, good memory. They stick in your teeth, though.

Real tree or artificial? Green or white?

Real. Always. Green.  I like white lights on the tree. The simple twinkle. But I love colorful ornaments that have meaning or history. I still remember my son saying, “Uh-oh, Daddy,” when we (as a family) used to pass by a Christmas store. They knew I had to go in.

What do you do holiday eve?

When my son and step-kids were young, we had a lovely eve dinner, watched movies, and allowed the kids to open one present. Now they’re all off doing their own thing, so we go to a friend’s house and raise a toast.

What are your holiday plans this year?

They vary from year to year, depending on where the kids will be. With their in-laws, with us. This year we’ll have an early Christmas on the 23rd with a full turkey dinner. My husband is Jewish, so we’ll also be celebrating Hannukah that night with a special latke that I’ve (ahem) perfected over the years. They really are killer good, if I do say so myself. Then we’ll be with friends on the 24th and family, movie, dinner on the 25th.

What’s the one holiday dish your family can’t go without?

Yorkshire pudding AND roast beef.

Please share a Holiday recipe.

The name “Yorkshire pudding” sounds like the recipe might be difficult, but it’s one of the easiest things to make in the world. Note for those who aren’t familiar. It’s a side dish, not a dessert. After the meat has been pulled from the oven to let the juices settle into the center of the meat, I put in a pan of Yorkshire pudding. It cooks in about 20 minutes and puffs to a golden brown. Delicious served with butter. Delicious on the next day, heated up and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese!

Yorkshire Pudding

1 c. milk

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tablespoon oil

Put oil in 9 x 13 pan.  Whip together milk, flour, eggs, baking powder. Pour batter into pan.

Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes  [It will puff up like a popover and get golden brown.] Serve with butter.

 

Gluten Free Yorkshire Pudding

1 c. milk

2/3 c. sweet rice flour

1/3 c. whey powder (or tapioca starch)

4 eggs

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tablespoon oil.

Put oil in 9 x 13 pan.  Whip together milk, flours, eggs, xanthan gum, and baking powder. Pour batter into pan.

Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes  [This will not puff up as much as regular, but it will get golden brown and delicious.] Serve with butter.

Holiday party tip?

Cheese platter, need I say more? No, really. Make appetizers easy.  People want to enjoy you. And a cheese platter is so easy to put together. With crackers, fruits, dried fruits, nuts. And don’t sweat the small stuff. It doesn’t all have to be perfect.  {Now, if you really got to know me, you’d know how hard this is for me to write because I’m a bit of a Type A personality. I want everything to be “perfect,” but I’m getting better.  One thing I learned this Thanksgiving, leave the crystal on the dining table and wash in the morning.  If you do, you won’t fret as much. Everyone can help wash and dry the normal dishes with no fear of breakage and not so much space taken up on the counter. Give it a shot. Then you can enjoy the guests. And they can enjoy a relaxed you.}

Favorite holiday decoration?

The tree. And the nutcrackers (collected over the years, whenever I took my son to see The Nutcracker. Gee, I wish we could have entered that production 20 minutes late. That first section…yawn, but the rest, wow!)   But I especially love the tree — the scent, the twinkle, the memories.

Please share some magical holiday memories?

My favorite memories were the moment our son awoke and saw that Santa had eaten some of the cookies we left out and the reindeer had nibbled on the carrots and left remnants in the driveway.  Then sending our son on a treasure hunt. Every Christmas, we would wrap up clues in little bags, boxes, or envelopes, and he would have to figure out one to the next. He was always so excited. Of course, at the end of the hunt was the one gift he had been hoping for, so the anticipation was delicious!

Wrap, gift bag or bow & go?

All.

Gifts or gift cards?

Both, depending. But I always give books. Big surprise, huh? LOL They are perfect stocking stuffers.

Do you eat fruitcake?

Nope, but I make a great banana bread and date bread, both served with cream cheese on Christmas morning.

Do you head to the movies on the 25th?

Yep. Usually family fare. We save the adult dramas for later in the week.

What’s in your stocking?  *wink*

I don’t have a clue. No winking. My husband can be sneaky.

What do you want in your stocking? *saucy wink aka swink*

Honestly, I have everything I need. Again, I’m so blessed, but if I were to hope (wink-wink)…perhaps a new, smaller, faster computer that could handle all the photos that I have to do for my blog. Who knew when I became a writer that I would have to take so many photographs of food! But culinary/foodie mystery lovers love to see photos and gather recipes.

Do you head out on the 26th into the madness to exchange or shop for anything?

Not a chance. I don’t do shopping crowds. My heart pounds; I can’t breathe. Ugh. On the other hand, I might make my way to a bookstore. Less frenzy. I’m always into buying books.

Thank you so much.

Thank you!

Happy Holidays from my house to yours!

Back at you.  Enjoy every moment. And believe in the magic.

Visit Avery’s website, recipe blog Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen and Killer Characters.

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About Diane Morasco

  • http://notesfromme.wordpress.com Dru

    Another fun read.