And just like that, it's almost Christmas. I've had a hard time getting my head around it this year, between the weather and logistics. I haven't wanted to bake, shop or do any planning, let alone, clean.

Fortunately, I live with a 10-year-old who understands the magic, an almost-16-year-old with great friends and a husband who knows that bringing the boxes full of holiday memories down from storage helps.

Margot, our youngest, is very organized and has written a list of what she's giving and has a plan to get it all done. The teen and her friends have made umpteen batches of "Muddy Buddies" (chocolate and peanut butter-coated cereal snacks) and spent an evening consuming more sugar than I thought possible while assembling gingerbread houses. Jon has gotten out the antique angel.

We did finally make a batch of gingersnaps, I remembered to buy the eggnog for the tree decorating, have the butter on hand to make Christmas morning's croissants and found the chocolate wafer cookies necessary for my husband's favorite chocolate log icebox cake.

So, some planning has been done. Time to start thinking about our Christmas dinner menu. We'll come up with some variations of vegetables, but more than one dessert is necessary. I keep thinking about a holiday tart I made when I was about 16 that my Grandpa Hickin loved, and that made me feel so proud. As this time of the year is all about tradition, celebration and family, A sweet and truly seasonal tart, this will be a lovely way to end our Christmas meal.


Harvest tart

"The Silver Palate Cookbook"


1 cup pitted prunes

1 cup dried apricots

1 cup chopped peeled apples (crunchy and tart are good)

½ cup golden raisins

1/3 cup granulated sugar (you could probably use less)

½ cup shelled walnut halves

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup Grand Marnier

Your favorite pie crust recipe

1 beaten egg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine fruit in a heavy saucepan. Add water just to cover and simmer over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly and chop. Return fruit to saucepan and add sugar, walnuts, butter and Grand Marnier and simmer for 5 minutes; allow to cool. Roll out pastry dough and line a 9-inch pie pan. Spoon filling into pan and trim excess crust, leaving about 1 inch all around. Roll out remaining dough and cover filling. Trim ends, turn up bottom crust edges and crimp. Brush lightly with beaten egg. Bake tart for 30-35 until top is golden and filling is bubbling.