1. Food
In my home, the holiday tree may go up and get some scattered decorations early in the season, but the big decorating party, with family and visiting friends, is reserved for Christmas Eve. The lights are turned on, and those who wish to do so, head out for church services. When everyone is back home and in bed (hopefully asleep), I plant myself in front of the fire where my traditional yule log is burning. (In accordance with Greek superstition, I keep a fire burning throughout the 12 days of Christmas to keep away the "gremlins and goblins" who are just waiting for an opportunity to create mischief if the fire goes out.) And I treat myself to a bowl of ryzogalo, taking a break from the fabulous frenzy. Just a small personal tradition.

Ryzogalo (ree-ZOH-ghah-lo) is translated as "rice pudding" but this fabulous dish is creamier than a pudding... and a favorite comfort food. As temperatures drop, this has become a much-in-demand breakfast, snack, and dessert with my family. While ryzogalo is often served at room temperature or chilled, it's totally divine served slightly warm.

Virtual Holiday Cookie Exchange

  • Our Guide to Desserts and Baking offers her childhood favorite recipe for Thumbprint Cookies. Your imagination is the only limit to the different flavor options available with this tasty recipe.

  • Our guide to French food shares this recipe for Cinnamon Palmiers with us. When one thinks of palmiers (tiny, scroll-like pastries), sweet, flaky cookies come to mind. These cookies are just that, with a touch of comforting, caramelized cinnamon.

Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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