My mother-in-law, Shirley, is the best ever….and for years, she hid her famous cheese ball recipe from me.

The first time I requested it, when Bill & I were newlyweds, she gave me a fake version. I could tell when I tasted it. Turns out, it’s a secret recipe, and you have to earn it. Now, years later, we talk about where we’ll be each time we make it.

We look out our kitchen windows and consider.

Each time we mix the ingredients, we’re at a different place in life. Moved ahead. Moved on. Things have come and gone. The cheese ball and its secrets remain.

I can’t tell you – – I’d have to shoot you, but it’s one of the most requested items at every Preston family gathering. cheese ballEven still, I think she’s held something back. Mine never turns out like hers. Maybe it’s the shredder…maybe she adds more hard-boiled egg. This year, I tried a little more pimento.

Where was I, this year, when I made it? I’m 54. The kids are somewhat grown…only one in college, coming and going. I’m in college, sort of, at least I just finished my first Master’s level class. Certain things have changed.

But I’m still the same person, too, the one that opens too many cupboards when she’s cooking, but still likes a tidy kitchen. One that prefers vintage recipes, although I still try new ones. One that bakes a dozen kinds of cookies and watches old  movies over and over.

At this time of the “rolling year,” its time to open your cupboards and look around. What do you see?christmas eve eve 1






(PS This is actually how I cook…I did not stage these cupboards. It may surprise some people who think I’m always organized.)