Happy Holidays: Traditions, Reflections, and Sweets

Happy Holidays: Traditions, Reflections, and Sweets

Hi. I’m Sarah, part of the (highly coveted) Food & Beverage team at Spyce, and I’m Haley, part of the (less coveted) Marketing team at Spyce. 

The holiday season is undoubtedly a time for celebration and magical cheer. It’s a time meant for family gatherings; a time for self-reflection; a time for laughter to fill the air; and maybe even a time for wishes to come true.

But, there’s no doubt this holiday season looks a little different as 2020 has been a challenging year and has tested us in ways we never thought imaginable. As we navigate this unfamiliar yet forcibly acquainted holiday season, we’re reminded that silver linings and unexpected laughter come in all shapes and sizes.

Silver-Lining Holiday Bells

Sarah here. Usually, at this point in the holiday season, we’ve all splurged on a new ugly sweater that we’ll inevitably only wear once, perfected our cocktail party “excuse me, I think I heard insert friend’s name call me over”, avoided every coworker after an embarrassing night of karaoke at the office party after-party, and have sworn to ourselves that the diet-starts-tomorrow more times than anyone cares to admit. Even the dog is starting to judge you at that point. Maybe there are some upsides to quarantining through the holidays after all. 

While this unprecedented holiday season may have spared us from embarrassing champagne toasts and slowed us from packing on a few extra holiday pounds, this year has drained our bank accounts, slapped us across the face with unwelcome news, really bad days, and even made us ration our toilet paper. But, this year has also allowed us to sit still, breathe in the fresh air, run outside, watch the sun rise, and learn that simple is okay. Maybe this year unveiled your true passions through baking sourdough, reconnected you with old friends who have now become family (albeit Zoom-family), and reminded you that you don’t need glitter to sparkle. 

Despite being separated from our beloved families and friends, the obstacles we’ve overcome this year are reason enough to celebrate. So, before we bid adieu to 2020, let’s celebrate with bright lights and lots of cheer, even if it’s in the confines of our own homes. And, what better way to spark some joy than with a little bit of… sugar?!

How to Bake Honey Spice Cake

Everyone has their favorite holiday cookies (mine are my mom’s giant gingersnaps). We know everyone’s already making the Hershey Kiss drop peanut butter blossoms. Your grandmother probably makes the best gingerbread house. And since you already have to make the obligatory sugar cookies to leave for Santa here’s a sweet treat that you’ll be glad Aunt Janice can’t steal your last bite of while you aren’t looking.

Yield: 1 8’’ Bundt Cake or 1 9x5in Loaf Pan

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cups (240g) honey
  • ½ cup packed (90g) light brown sugar
  • ¾ (180ml) water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups (175g) all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cups (90g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon whole or ground anise seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and dust with flour the sides of the 9×5 loaf pan or 8 in round cake pan.
  2. Heat the honey, brown sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan until it begins to boil. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup (140g) of the all-purpose flour. Let cool to room temperature. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ⅓ cup (45g) all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, anise, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk.
  5. Stir half the honey mixture into the dry ingredients; add the eggs, then the rest of the honey mixture, stirring until smooth.
  6. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes, loosent the sides of the cake from the pan with a knife, then tip the cake out onto a wire cooling rack and cool completely. If desired, dust with powdered sugar.
  7. Enjoy!

Adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Take pictures in your kitchen and tag @spyce on Instagram so we can see the way you’re “spicing” up your holiday baking.

While baking dessert with your new family for the holidays, what better thing to listen to than a Spyce curated holiday playlist. In fact, some of the songs on this playlist have heartwarming or curious stories behind them, so I will pass it off to Haley for some storytelling!

The Music of December

Hi, Haley here again. I don’t know about you all, but music means a lot to me, both during the holidays and throughout the rest of the year. Often it captures the beauty of a moment without having to put that moment in words or seals a memory for years to come.

It is hard for me to hear the song, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree without picturing myself running around as a kid at my grandmother’s house with my cousins. Similarly, everyone has different feelings towards those same songs. So we put our heads together again and made a playlist for the holiday season, capturing moments of laughter, reflection, and celebration from years past and most definitely years to come. 

A Trip Down Holiday Mem-Merry Lane

I decided to ask a few people here at Spyce for stories behind the songs they chose. And sure, some of them are funny and some serious, maybe even a little nostalgic, but who isn’t up for a story these days?

First up we’ve got the song X’Mas Time (It Sure Doesn’t Feel Like It) by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, added to our playlist by our very own Leo Charuhas. 

“I used to work for the Bosstones as their backline manager & tech. This time of year was always spent building random props and getting ready for their “Hometown Throwdown” show at the House of Blues. I’ve worked it every December for the past 5 years. I’m pretty sad there won’t be a show this year. There’s a line in this song at 1:39 where the lyrics are ‘Now I’m standing in Downtown Crossing and I’ve got nowhere to go’” (you can come to Spyce!) – Leo Charuhas

Next we have Christmas Lights by Yellowcard, added by Brady Knight. 

“I am usually not a fan of Christmas music. It’s the same songs sung over and over every year, and usually the messages are generic or outdated. I have recently discovered a silver lining to the season, and it’s to search obscure Christmas originals by artists I know and love. My friends and I were obsessed with Yellowcard in high school (not ashamed, electric violin solos are still sick). I thought I heard all of their music until my friends showed me the album ‘Punk Goes Christmas’. Since then I love playing ‘Christmas Lights’ each year because of the joy it brings me to think of this pop punk group making a Christmas song.” – Brady Knight

Lastly, I’ll tell a story behind one of the songs I added. I added Main Title: Somewhere in My Memory from the Home Alone Original Soundtrack. I don’t know…something about hearing this always puts me in the holiday spirit. Often I’ll pop in my earbuds and walk down the dark, lamppost lit streets of Beacon Hill and pretend the snow is gently falling around me. It’s somber, brilliant and beautiful, and I hope you find a few extra minutes to take a socially distant walk in Beacon Hill this season too. 

From Sarah and I, we wish you the warmest holiday season possible as we conclude 2020. Remember to call the uncle you were briefly relieved to not have to make small talk with this year. Remember to hug whoever you’re lucky enough to celebrate with. And remember to give thanks for another day, and another year.

With love and cheer! 

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