It’s possible to have a merry, kitchen-free Christmas

Don’t want to cook during the holidays? Local help is here
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Cooking for Christmas? Bah humbug. If all you want for Christmas is to spend more time under the tree and less time standing over the stove, local restaurants and grocers are here to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with coordinating holiday feasts. Newcastle Produce baker Chelsea Federwitz and her crew are busy creating all kinds of holiday goodies for everything from cocktail parties to Christmas brunch –– black-bottom cupcakes, pumpkin spiced scones, barley pomegranate salad and roasted sweet potatoes with pecans and brown sugar, for example. “It’s easy for the family, and they can enjoy more time together and sit down to enjoy something local, healthy and tasty, and support the local economy,” Federwitz said. All holiday pre-orders must be placed by Dec. 17 and picked up by 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 24. Supermarkets like Raley’s and Bel Air step it up during the holidays and are taking orders for take-home dinners. The supermarkets offer four pre-order, take-home holiday meals, including a 10- to 12-pound Butterball turkey and sides galore, serving eight to 10 people, for $49.99. The all-natural premium holiday dinner, with a 12- to 14-pound natural turkey and plenty of sides, offers enough to feed 10 to 12 people for $99.99. Bird not your thing? The supermarket chain also offers a prime rib dinner for six to eight people for $79.99, and a fire-glazed, spiral-sliced ham meal for eight to 10 people, for $64.99. For the most part, these meals require not much more than some time in the oven or on the stove, said Lori Simpson in Auburn’s Bel Air deli. “You just stick it in your oven for about two hours and it heats it all up,” she said. Simpson said these holiday meals are available Dec. 14 through Dec. 29. No matter when you’re serving dinner, pre-ordering is a must, Simpson said. Those wanting to avoid cooking and cleaning altogether might consider checking with their favorite local restaurants to see who’s serving holiday dinners. Lou La Bonte’s, located at 13460 Lincoln Way, is open Christmas Eve, with regular menu, from 5-9 p.m., and open 2-8 p.m. Christmas Day and serving a holiday buffet. “It’ll be turkey, ham, prime rib, all the trimmings,” owner Judi La Bonte said. The cost for the buffet is $22.95 for adults, 10 percent off for seniors, $10.95 for children 10 and younger, and free for children under the age of 4. “Some people are alone and they don’t have family, and some people have a big family but don’t have enough room,” she said. “It goes both ways.” Call (530) 885-9193 to make a Christmas reservation. No reservations are necessary, and all are welcome to attend Bethlehem Lutheran Church’s 19th annual Community Christmas Dinner, which will be held from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 25 at the church, located at 1279 High St. “We don’t care how much money you make or don’t make,” said Dave Raught, a congregation member who helps coordinate the event. “It’s a chance to spend the holidays with people and to make the day brighter.” The traditional meal includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and the like, a feast created by volunteers, Raught said. Other churches and groups take some of the duties — Pioneer Methodist Church does the potatoes, Sierra Grace Fellowship helps with the stuffing, Marie Callender’s has donated pies in the past. “People feel like they want to get out and help somebody else,” Raught said. Meals on Wheels doesn’t deliver on Christmas Day, so the church is stepping in to make sure homebound residents have a holiday meal. Last year volunteers delivered some 125-150 dinners, in addition to the 200-250 meals served at the church, Raught said. No need to RSVP for this dinner — just come on down to enjoy some holiday cheer. “It’s a chance to get out and see others in the community,” Raught said. “You go to a restaurant, you don’t interact with other people. It’s a great time — it becomes quite a festive occasion.” Those needing a ride to dinner, who are homebound and would like to request a meal, and those interested in volunteering to help out on Christmas can call (530) 885-4515. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at