Bronco Voices: Comfort food provides holiday bliss despite year of distance

Sentinel writer Sophia Tribendis and Northgate staff share favorite holiday eats and treats


Kara Ravina

Please, help yourself – but just one. Vice Principal Kara Ravina wants to share (a photo of) her holiday specialty.

Sophia Tribendis, Staff Writer

Around the winter holidays, many of us find ourselves comforting in food. While stuck inside during these wintery days, compounded by social distance mandates, what sounds better than baking and cooking some traditional food?

“With the increased time indoors, it only feels natural to gather with friends and family in the kitchen,” said Vice Principal Kara Ravina, when asked about her traditions.

Generally, during the winter holidays, my family and relatives come together and celebrate Christmas. Everyone brings their dishes and we eat together. Due to the coronavirus, we may have to cancel some of our typical traditions….but that doesn’t mean we have to cancel our favorite foods.

Now that we are urged to remain indoors, I decided to ask some administrators and teachers about their holiday traditions, baking or cooking superpowers, looking for some cooking inspiration.

“Toffee is my favorite thing to make at this time of the year. It is most successful when the weather is cold, so I always make it to share with neighbors,” Ravina said. If anyone doubts this decadent delight, see the photo she provided – which looks almost good enough to pull from this page. 

I happen to share the same favorite dish with this administrator, as mine is my grandmother’s homemade almond roca toffee. 

An art teacher Michelle Carmon enjoys going all out during her winter festivity. “Normally, my husband and I have a holiday party during the first weekend of December so usually I would bake Tuesday through Friday the week before the party,” she said. “I would make Sandies, fudge, Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Crinkle cookies, my great grandmother’s Biscotti recipe, pumpkin spice cookies, magic bars, and the list goes on.” 

Due to the restrictions on gatherings, she said she can not hold this event. As of right now, she decided to instead work on perfecting the perfect pumpkin muffin. “It makes the house smell wonderful,” Carmon added.

While some enjoy baking sweets, others prefer cooking with some spice. “My superpower is the slow cooker.  My chili is award-winning; I won the “soup or bowl” cook-off at school a couple of years ago,” said biology teacher Todd Bauleke. Bauleke also said he enjoys eating tamales during his winter holiday with his family. 

Like Bauleke, Vice Principal Craig Bocks enjoys tradition in spending time with his family. His family’s preference?

“One tradition we have in my family is to make crepes for breakfast on Christmas morning.  Usually, this gives us a chance to ‘slow down’ the frantic opening of my kids’ presents. We usually let them open a few when they first wake up, then make and eat the crepes before going back to some more gifts around the tree,” Bocks said. 

Family and friend traditions allow us to bond and give more meaning to our festivities. Bocks said his family has continued their crepe making, even now with both of his kids in college.

Although many take part in family gathering traditions, Principal Kelly Cooper also takes part in family preparing family traditions and favorites. 

“I bake a mean black cherry and chocolate chip kugel (a traditional Jewish dish) that my kids love for our Hanukkah side, and my grandmother’s cheesecake for the Christmas holiday side,” Cooper said. “My grandmother had a cooking show back in her heyday called Mama’s Kitchen – it ran on local Seattle tv – and the cheesecake is her recipe. It is fantastic!” Cooper said. She added that she also enjoys making slow-cooked beef stroganoff as a holiday comfort food. 

It is comforting spending time with our friends or family during these times. Despite the urged restrictions on gathering with large groups, I hope everyone can find a way to work around the 2020 limits to customary traditions. While I find tasteful food making everything just a little better.

I gathered much inspiration and enjoyment in getting to learn about others’ holiday traditions. Depending on one’s background, we exhibit our traditions differently, while some typically focus on food and others focus on extended family gatherings or possibly both. Even if we can not carry through with these customs, we can spend time learning about others and creating comfort for ourselves and our loved ones.

Now please excuse me – I must go see if there’s any almond roca ready to eat.