David Lebovitz — a whiz of a pastry chef, cookbook author, and food blogger — got me thinking this morning about the meaning of all the glitz and glitter out there, if only I could just get out of my icy driveway.

David is giving away a set of Le Creuset cookware, a gift to him from the French cookware company Le Creuset. To sign up for the random drawing, all you have to do is comment on his post (and arrange for delivery in case you win — easy — but don’t forget, about as of right this minute 1400 [2738 as of 7:09 PM EST on December 20, 2010] other people are standing in line for the prize, too!).

But there’s more to this giveaway than just the cookware. David hones in on the idea of giving and lists a number of charities with an international focus that could use help in this rather rough year for people around the world. If you have a few bucks left after buying stuff for your family and friends, why not consider some of David’s charities? Or one of your own favorites. Mine is Partners in Health, because of my ties to Haiti, where a cholera epidemic is just the latest in a long list of tribulations borne by the Haitian people.

It’s huge reminder of just how lucky most of us are, in spite of whatever setbacks might kick us in the guts when we least expect it.

The holidays demand a lot of people, and sometimes it’s easy to just do the same old thing.

But in case you want to make a stunning Bûche de Noël this year, take a look at these step-by-step instructions from King Arthur Flour and step-by-step assembly from Joe Pastry for making this relative newcomer in the pantheon of French Christmas treats. (Joe includes meringue mushrooms with his and here’s how to whip up those cute little guys … .)

Here’s a stellar Bûche for your visual enjoyment, made and photographed by Pip in the City:

Yes, those 'shrooms are handmade, not from the forest floor!

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I am a cook who loves to write. And I am a writer who loves to cook.

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