What a Crock!: Cut yourself some slack during holiday cooking _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Have slow-cooked Pork and Bean Stew ready when you come in from holiday shopping.

I understand the stress of holiday meal planning. From shopping for just the right gift to planning the big meal itself, it isn’t an easy time, even if it is joyful.

Holiday dinners don’t cook themselves, as we know. Sometimes, the lead cook is so tired, she or he is hardly able to enjoy the festivities.

Make a list as we get into the home stretch. Then take a good look at the list and figure out what you can delegate, share with others or do ahead of time. Sharing also teaches the generation who will go after you how to prepare those signature dishes everyone in the family wants year after year.

Give yourself permission to cheat on a few things. Maybe you don’t have to bake every single pie. There are amazing bakeries everywhere to help with that. Keep your eye on what’s important in your holiday kitchen.

Use the slow cooker often over the holidays. Make a batch of party mix or candies for a personalized gift or maybe you just need a hearty dish to get you through the days until you get to Christmas Day.

Here’s a good stew-type dish to fill both the stomach and the spirit. You got this!

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at juliekay6122@gmail.com.