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Advent, Christmas and the Chile Underground

Mrs. ClausYesterday was the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. It was also the official start of Advent, the beginning of the Christmas season. These two dates only line up about every decade.

For the next four Sundays, Advent will be celebrated with increasing intensity. Then comes Christmas Day, and the Twelve Days of Christmas (which take us through January 5 to Epiphany).

Steeped in both sacred and secular traditions, this portion of the calendar represents mystical times for nearly every human culture. The “death and rebirth” of the year, with the shortest day on December 21, has always had special meaning for societies of the northern hemisphere back into unrecorded history.

Food has always played a major role this time of year. For many, the harvest was complete (or nearly so), and preservation of stocks to assure survival during the harsh winter months was ongoing. The apparent plenty, though, led to many feasts and celebrations. At the soltice, some tribes practiced sacrifices of food to the sun god, to help him to come back one more year.

Lots of heavy stuff, this history. I concentrate on the bountiful fall harvest for meals, and our clan also bakes and cooks special dishes, desserts and snacks for all the social events. Yes, the year may be ending, but we intend to take her out with a bang, not a whimper.

Several bangs, that is!

The Chile Underground will feature a large number of recipes this Advent and Christmas season. Some traditional, others “new,” and not a few with plenty of zest and zing. After all, just because it’s late in the year doesn’t mean we have to give up on flavor! To get things started, here’s a recipe for cookies you’ll want to make several times during this season. Chocaholic Chileheads, Beware!

Whip up a batch soon, so you can test how much heat you want to add to future batches. This recipe can be cut in half, or even a quarter, for testing…

Enjoy the (Zesty Advent) Heat!

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