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12 Days of Holiday Food Memories: Ashley Rodriguez Eschews Repetition

Julia Bainbridge
Food Editor
December 12, 2013

We asked a dozen food world luminaries to help us count down the next 12 days with culinary nostalgia, and they gave us their favorite stories of supermarket eggnog, standing rib roasts, discounted candy, and lots of cheer. Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Photo credit: Stock Food. Lettering: Brian Kaspr.

When we called Not Without Salt blogger Ashley Rodriguez, she had just put one of her three children, who was home sick from school, to bed. She had also just turned in the manuscript for her upcoming cookbook, which will be published in February 2015 and addresses a topic her followers have grown fond of over the years: date night, with her husband, at home. Some months earlier, she had accepted a Best Food Blog award from Saveur magazine. But when we called Ashley to talk holiday memories, we were pleasantly surprised to find that such a lady (in the traditional sense of the word) is quite untraditional when it comes to Christmas meals.

As much as I love traditions, I’m not a fan of repeating recipes. On Christmas morning, there is is usually some sort of roll or pastry, but I like to try different versions. And as long as butter and sugar are involved, the kids are pretty happy.

Growing up, we never really had the big Christmas dinner. I always felt like I was missing out on something, that we didn’t have big Christmas roasts, so it’s something my brothers and I are trying to start. Now, with my side of the family, we do a nice big lunch up at my parents’ house. They live up north in farm country; they live in this tiny town, that if you blink, you’re going to miss it when you drive through. 

This year we’re going to be doing beef Wellington. My family usually gets two cows in the spring and raises them on the land. So now we have meat at Christmas time! 

We just had Thanksgiving, when my mother always tries to keep it simple. So I put my foot down and said we’re not keeping it simple for Christmas! In my opinion, it’s the time of year to try new things, and have this idea of the the huge, highly ordained puff pastry-wrapped meat. It’s almost gaudy! It’s one of those things that I’ve never made myself, and would be fun to add that to my repertoire.

Simplicity has its place—my food is simple most of the year—but there are times when things need to be wrapped in butter. I’m excited to go over the top.