Preparing for Christmas always brings to mind Grandma Annie.
Not that I need a holiday to think about my warm and wonderful maternal grandmother.
But, oh, how Annie loved preparing for Christmas! She baked and baked and stashed her cookies in tins stacked inside the big red cupboard in the back kitchen, the room separate from the main kitchen by a long hallway. Classic Christmas cookies, rolled and cut from orange-infused dough and baked and iced with pastel frosting; thumbprints rich with raspberry and apricot jam; and sand tarts, sugar cookies filled with dates.
Annie loved shopping, too, and would have certainly enjoyed the ease of the Internet.
The year I was first on my own, Annie gave me a cheese basket and a cookbook.
Port de Salut was one of the cheeses in that sampler basket. I have loved its creaminess since then, and I equate it with the comfort of Annie, her kitchen and her cooking.
In Paris, one of my first purchases was a hunk of St. Paulin cheese, a sort of sibling to Port de Salut. I bought it in part because of its promised creaminess, but also because St. Paulin, P.Q., was the birthplace of Annie’s mother, Josephine, known in previous posts as Mémere.
St. Paulin, originally made by Trappist monks, was the first cheese made with pasteurized milk, about 80 years ago. It is tender, sweet, and tangy and well suited for soups and macaroni and cheese. Its rind is soft and edible.
I will be cooking with it in a day or two - they say a winter storm is on the way. I'm going to be prepared for it.