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December 18: Find a new recipe

Traditions guide so much of what we do this time of year. We eat certain foods, listen to certain songs, watch certain movies, all reminders of holiday seasons past and inspiration for those to come. Sometimes we do things - like making a particular recipe - without questioning them at all, doing them simply because that's how they have been passed down to us and that is how we will pass them along.

I wrote about traditions back at the beginning of this advent calendar, but given that tradition has such a strong hold on us in this season, I think it's an idea worth returning to again.

Food is certainly where tradition plays out the strongest around the holidays. I think a lot of people have an idea of what *has* to be on the menu in order for it to constitute a proper Christmas meal.

But what about adding something new to the repertoire? Doing something out of the ordinary doesn't mean breaking with tradition, it just means adding to it. 

I tried one of the recipes out of a new cookbook over the weekend (Ossetian pies from Kaukasis by Olia Hercules). I liked it so much that I think I might add it to this year's celebratory menu.

I have a plethora of cookbooks in my house, most of which act more as inspiration than guides for how to cook or bake something specific. But it is fun to go to the shelf and try to find something new and different that I have never made before, and I like to make the time every once in awhile to do just that.

I bet you have a few cookbooks on hand that you've never made anything from, or only barely skimmed the pages of.

Maybe this is the week to pull one off of the shelf and find a new dish to try.

It could be a simple one for a weeknight dinner, or maybe it's something more elaborate that you think you might want to add to the holiday table.

It could be a recipe from another culture, one that challenges you to try new ingredients and to learn something about a place and a people in the process. Certainly we're living in a moment where a little more cultural awareness and respect is needed, for which food is an excellent vehicle.

Whatever it is, take the time to make something that you've never made before. You may be presently surprised, and a new tradition just might be born. And if it doesn't end up a success? Well, you still have the other tried-and-true traditions to fall back on.
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