I wanted to read a poem to my gathered family before our Christmas meal. Could you recommend several? What would your top five Christmas poems be? — Already-Frazzled-Preparer-of-a-Christmas-Feast

I guess it would be totally lame to cite my favorite Christmas poem (“A Visit From St. Nicholas”—“’Twas the night before Christmas”), but that’s a really good one, very entertaining if you will have little ones at your table. My other top poems are below:

Emily Dickinson writes a good one (of course, right?):

Before the ice is in the pools — Before the skaters go, Or any cheek at nightfall Is tarnished by the snow —

Before the fields have finished — Before the Christmas tree, Wonder upon wonder — Will arrive to me!

The poem goes on in two more quatrains, but it gets a little inaccessible, so… More…

There are endless ways to die with this cookbook — and so much animal fat that I expected each recipe to come with a doctor’s warning. You don’t even have to be particularly accomplished to do it; all levels of difficulty are represented. Sure, I could have cured my own pork belly, but damn it, my “vacuum-pack machine” is at the cleaners. I could have also tried to make my own terrine, which would include me deboning and curing a duck. I wanted something chic and simple, so that when I made my big reveal at my dinner party, I could brush off the oohs and ahhs with an easy, “Oh, this is nothing,” and not be tempted to curl under the table to nap while everyone else ate.

So instead of haunting eBay for a vacuum-pack machine or risking life and limb to debone anything, I turned to the… More…