It’s December 20th.  We are at the brink of Winter Solstice.  We are approaching the End of the World.  But no one is even mentioning the “Chriscle Cliff”.  What you don’t know is that the Chriscle Cliff could end you before doomsday has a chance.  Dec 21st marks the Chriscle Cliff, the Christmas-Pickle Cliff.  This means, if I continue to procrastinate Christmas shopping, baking, and holiday celebrating as I have been for the past 30 days, I will find myself in a Chrismas Pickle.  I will be sitting in front of the two cutest, happiest, wide-eyed nieces on Christmas morning with NOTHING to give them, nothing to feed them.  I will be….THAT aunt.  And if I get into the Chriscle Cliff, I will forever owe them.  Forever. 

I called my very structured, scheduled, and organized Type-A sister last night to release my bubbling freakingoutness: “I haven’t done ANY Christmas shopping, I haven’t done ANY baking.  I haven’t done anything AT ALL!  I’m seriously in trouble.  I think everyone is getting giftcards!”.  And she instantly responded with “Oh my.”  She kindly did not finish her sentence, but I am certain her expression was sculpted by horror and her internal dialogue read “how tragic it must be to be you right now”.

It IS tragic….and it doesn’t help that I’m telling everyone at work that I haven’t done any Christmas shopping because they are responding in a very unfavorable way.  “…like NONE??” or “…for ANYBODY?”

I am also well past the Online Shopping window, which is also a giant red flag that the Chriscle Cliff is here.  So now I have to go to the store to do my shopping and find the remnant articles of clothing…the stragglers…the pieces that still don’t have a home.  And when I purchase a size XL Pajamas for my XS sister, I’ll just say “…you know….in case you get pregnant this year”

I could start to list my excuses for why I am so behind on Christmas.  But it doesn’t matter.  No one is interested in my song and dance.  The Chriscle Cliff shows no mercy: no exemptions, no exceptions.

*The Chriscle Cliff is a phenomenon experienced, discovered, suffered, and coined by me.  All royalties should be directed to my Amazon Expedited-Shipping Fund.

Orecchiette Pomodori e Rucola  
(“Little Ears” Pasta with Tomatoes and Arugula)
by Micol Negrin

I’ve made this about 100 times, so I don’t recall her original recipe, but I did learn it from a cooking class she taught.  My sister makes it often too and she calls it “Comfort Pasta”.  You’ll see why.  It’s so easy and delicious that you can’t make it just once.


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound orecchiette pasta
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of arugula* leaves
2/3 cup grated pecorino cheese**, plus extra for passing at the table
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown.  Add all of the halved tomatoes. Raise heat to medium-high, and then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Season with the pepper, and keep the tomato sauce warm, covered, over the lowest possible heat.

Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add tablespoons of salt and allow it to dissolve.  Add orecchiette and cook according to package directions. (Do not overcook)

Drain the pasta then return it to the pot.  Add tomato-garlic mixture and arugula leaves. Fold in the grated pecorino cheese and serve hot garnished with Italian Parsley. Makes 4 servings.

*While arugula is best, you can substitute another green if you want such as spinach. 
**Pecorino cheese is a sheep’s milk cheese, but parmeggiano-reggiano works well too.  Do NOT use Parmesan….that is American imitation of Parmeggiano Reggiano and you will do no such injustice to this dish.