Tag Archives: Christmas

So Christmas is Over

So said two little boys yesterday morning, after they showed me their din0-bots they were holding while out walking with their parents and grandparents.

We were out walking the dog, who they love. “So Christmas is over.” I was looking at a toy I’d never seen or heard of (getting old is a bummer) and replied “Christmas is all day long. You get to hang out with your folks and grandparents and have a great meal.” I don’t think at their ages they got it, but their family did.

We had a quiet day, nice breakfast, snack for lunch and a dinner my husband wanted that didn’t turn out as well as last time. I was afraid of overseasoning and I underseasoned instead. It was chicken and artichoke hearts in a minimal Alfredo sauce. We’ll do the pesto and fresh homemade pasta tomorrow for lunch. If you celebrated, hope you enjoyed the entire day, not just presents. Dee

ps Perhaps that’s why our parents started getting family gifts, populating our basement with a racetrack, ping pong, air hockey…. so we’d have something to do out in the middle of nowhere while they rested from all night of “some assembly required.” dee

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Enjoy!

I couldn’t sleep. Santa arrived yesterday afternoon after delighting neighborhood kids. God bless him. Our neighbor wore a stifling suit and still came by to see us (husband and dog were on a long walk) but needed to go home and get out of that suit.

He brought gifts for the nordic kids. He arrived two weeks ago to give us boughs from his tree (that was our gift) and I went to storage and brought some memories mostly of my husband and me as I’ve tried to get us ornaments each year from wherever we were.

Today I’m making breakfast, we’ll try homemade pasta for lunch with basil/parsley pesto with lemon,and potatoes, then home-made spaetzle with chicken and artichokes in a cream sauce for dinner.

Roasted nuts, butternut squash soup, pasta with chicken, then cheesecake.  That says holiday to me. Have a wonderful day! Dee

Neighbors and Holidays

This neighbor brought me boughs from their tree. He wants us to come and see their tree, which has a papier mache horse head at the top (I’ve seen it in past years) but he says this is an interesting year.

If only he could stop cutting off boughs for us! First year we met they’d misplaced all their ornaments. We didn’t have a tree so lent them mine/ours. We had a lot of swirly artisan aluminum ornaments we bought in Vermont years ago with my in-laws and they needed some kind of attachment to the tree. He used fishing line.

I went to storage this morning, found the box and got out a few precious ornaments. Two wooden stockings from the first months my husband and I met. Tagboard ornaments from kids and friends from an event I created 20 years ago, and there is one I added to the table that I keep by my desk every day.

It’s a golden retriever with a halo, my dog who died in 2001. No, she was 3,000 miles away from 9/11 and died earlier in the year. 9/11 is how I met my husband and we’ve been together over 14 years. I try to get us ornaments every year so we can know who we are and where we’ve been over the years. See
Close Your Eyes.

We will ask our neighbors over this weekend to share a glass of wine, from a bottle my father sent for my birthday last month. The caveat is that we need to see their tree. Also, for them to see what I’ve done decorating with the boughs. With thanks to friends and family I remain, Dee

Trust

As far as I’m concerned the glass is half full. My husband of glass half empty has gone to 3/4 full and I’m needing to pull him back a bit.

His mother was right when years ago she gave me a hand-carved wall hanging of a hot air balloon with him and his ideas, and me standing on the ground supporting him and also making sure he didn’t go too far.

I put my life in his hands every day. He places his trust in me to do the same. Here’s a song.  So Christmas is cell phones, not here every day, some on back order, you’ll get them one day.

That was our holiday gift for both birthdays and Christmas. We’re practical. Dee

Sobbing

Yes, it happens once a year. Always in the car, usually driving from my husband’s folks home with hubby dear in the passenger seat, snoozing.

It’s the Thanksgiving trip which is exhausting at least for the women who do all the planning, shopping, prep, cooking, serving, and cleaning, twice. Of course the men are tired from eating and watching football.

The first one was about Maria who couldn’t afford the pretty bird so got the beat-up cage with a nightingale inside. We all know the end of that story. I was in tears. I do not like most Christmas music, especially things like a grandmother being trampled by reindeer.

This year I was alone on the road driving from St. Louis to Tulsa and there was this song about a poor kid who wanted shoes for his mother on Christmas Eve and a stranger gave him the extra money to buy them because the kid’s mother is going to see Jesus tonight.

Waterworks in the car. Truckers had to be laughing out loud. My husband, if he’s awake in the car when it happens on the radio between religious and country music, will affirm that it only happens once a year.

My favorite songs of the season include but are not limited to:  Silent Night; White Christmas; Burl Ives’ Rudolph; Greensleeves; The Little Drummer Boy; Gloria in Exelsius Deo; and O Tannenbaum.

So why don’t you make us some figgy pudding and bring some right here. Yes, I’m making “figgy pudding” as a tart with ricotta salata. We’ll see how it goes with our guests. As Bing Crosby (look him up) said in White Christmas the movie: If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings. I do every day. Dee

The Bird Arrived

Yes, a capon. I put it right in the freezer, in which I carved space today. I don’t know its weight but it should be between 7-9 lbs. I’ll take it to the frig on the 23rd to thaw.

I’m changing the menu. Too much bread. I remember holiday meals when everything had bread as a component and I don’t want my guests to fill up on carbs.

I’ll start with my marinated Kalamata olives and a Greek/Italian cheese plate with grapes and other fruit my heart goes pitter-pat for at the store.

It’ll be Mom’s basic stuffing, with the liver. No apple-sausage dressing. The gratin stays the same but I’ll add either a sauteed spinach or arugula.

I have to keep the cheddar-bacon biscuits in memory of Jane Grigson. Having never made them before I hope I can do them well and just place them on the table to nosh.

Mashed potatoes are still on the list but I may add additional root vegetables to the puree. Note: do not ever place rutabagas through a ricer. They will break your fingers, wrists and perhaps elbows.

I cannot find mincemeat to save my life, even Amazon can only have it to me by February at the earliest. Interesting I wrote here about it years ago and was contacted by someone who desperately needed mincemeat for tarts to bring to his father’s for Christmas.

Who was that person? My own brother. He’d never seen my blog and was taking mincemeat to Dad’s for Christmas. I ordered two large jars from Amazon as a gift and sent them directly to Dad’s. Oh, I also gave him Mom’s pie dough recipe which my mother-in-law also uses.

What are we doing for dessert this year? In the spirit of the great US of A and Europe I’m creating a fig and ricotta salata mini-turnover, plus a fruit dish, probably with lemon curd (I found some today) and whipped cream or Greek yogurt.

What can I say? This menu is a work in progress. Next year I may even try prime rib and Yorkshire pudding…. Permit me to tackle the capon first. Cheers! Dee

Firebird/Christmas Roses

I created an event in 1994. One night, 3:00 in the morning I awakened and wrote down ideas. Revolutionary ideas that were fought against tooth and nail by the powers that be.

It worked. Yesterday I put up a small tabletop tree with white lights and favorite ornaments. Three were tag board from my Kids for Kids event. Two from children and one that simply says “Friend” from a friend who donated to and helped with the event.

The children’s school at a local theater was lacking students. My plan was to buy out the theater at full price, have the local press print FREE tickets with gift of food or clothing for a local orphanage. The kids did a performance of The Firebird and the Christmas Roses that brought tears to my eyes. The house was packed and the school got new students.

The box office manager had a friend draw a gorgeous Firebird and he designed the Playbook. We had a tree donated and the orphans drew ornaments. Two wonderful ladies sewed gingerbread person ornaments that we cut out of used grocery bags and filled with cotton batting to be decorated by more kids. Phew!

We had a tree, menorah (electric, as you don’t want someone yelling FIRE in a crowded theater) and everything by and for kids. It took a lot of time and effort.

Today, I’ve three ornaments from these kids who are now living life, on my little tree. I also have a framed Playbill with the donors (memorials to some), and my name is on it but more importantly, the Director and Cast all signed it for me and it’s my Christmas centerpiece. We’re having “orphans” again this year from nearby, as I love to do. I’ve a menu to share next time. Cheers, I’ve got to wrangle a printer! From Jessica, age 10 who drew a cat for me. She must be 30 now, oh my, Dee

 

Menus

Why are menus so difficult? When I was freezing cold sitting under an arctic weight comforter many years ago with a coat and gloves in my small bedroom, separate thermostat up to 55 degrees for my presence (the others were at 45) I spread out cookbooks and melded tastes and textures and flavors for the perfect meal.

For a couple of years I was a professional “orphan” at Christmas. I was always the 7th to their six, even third to their two. For the past 13 years Thanksgiving is always at my husband’s grandmother’s, whom we both call Nanny. It is a feast of epic proportions and one to be very thankful for one’s participation.

We’ve been by ourselves on Christmas, sometimes being in a new town but we’re back. I love to welcome those with no parents, family halfway around the world, newcomers to town. In no way are they “orphans” but I do love to cook dinner for a few brave souls, usually neighbors, and try to make a menu for them.

These days one must ask allergies and dislikes and one dinner was kicked out immediately. As I age and get more experienced with menus and cooking I must also gauge cooking space in the oven and on the stove.

For those of you who’ve read me for a few years you may remember the capon debacle. Whole Foods, while I love it, will not carry capon. My mother used to make it for every special occasion except Thanksgiving and Christmas and with four kids and a husband, it was pretty much a monthly occasion and her butcher was easily prepared for it.

A few weeks ago I interviewed the head of http://www.roastgoose.com, Jim Schiltz, head of Shiltz Farms. They took on Wapsie Farms’ capon business. Jim, I have to tell you that I will do a goose in the future but right now we’re moving across country in a month and there is much to do and it does not include studying cooking or carving a goose or innovating many leftovers.

I will order a large capon for dinner for six. Make mashed potatoes and probably roasted carrots, steamed green beans. Appetizer undecided. Dessert would have to be cold and kept outside, covered because of no frig space or oven space to make a pie. Or I could make mincemeat tarts in advance. Capon would be stuffed under the skin with butter, s&p and herbs. Stuffed with sausage & apples and toasted wheat bread.

It’s a good feeling so far. I’m now sitting at the computer in 68 degrees next to several cold floor-to-ceiling windows (less than 1/2 degree per year). It reminds me of the old days. For three years we placed all our stuff in storage except for a couple dozen tech books for my husband’s work. I did without cookbooks. If there was anything new I needed ideas for, I looked it up online.

Now my cookbooks are back (at least for now) and to think of something, like Julia Child’s Uncle Hans’ City Scrapple and knowing just where to look it up is a comfort to me. There will never be a total replacement for books, at least while I’m on this earth.

Happy menu planning! My mother went through turkey for years before doing the traditional English feast of prime rib, Yorkshire pudding et al. To each his/her own. Enjoy the holidays. Cheers! Dee

The good things

are that I got more spam from Louis Vuitton pushers than gun enthusiasts today! I’ve never owned either.

The NRA, however, is personalizing attacks against bloggers, sending multiple personal hits to scare people. Shame on them and how they fool people to think this is all about the 2nd Amendment.

Hon. Mr. Boehner, can you please try, once again, to rally your party and tell them you’ll take no more money from the NRA? Happy holidays, Dee

Musings

I would like to thank my extended family (especially AL and J) for giving me a great childhood and letting me explore. Also my husband’s extended family for providing love and support for our marriage for the past ten years.

Thanks to all the dear friends I have and had. For one who’s moved so many times it is always wonderful to still have friends from grade school, high school and college days.

As to cooking, I’d like to thank Betty Crocker for the Boys and Girls cookbook I got for my 8th birthday, because it led to cooking and Mom getting Gourmet magazine and I loved it, still do, well not Gourmet anymore because it went bust.

To the people who’ve hired me throughout my life, from gymnastic instructor at age 16 to consultant much later. To my teachers, from everywhere. My mentors started in 2nd grade with Mrs. Johnson and continued through Mr. B in algebra and Breezy, topped off by two dear friars. My music teachers were always inspirational, from Mrs. Smith to Mrs. P and Mrs. H and even now. They made me want to reach for the stars.

Thanks also to my dogs and cats for providing love and comfort. To the remarkable fellow volunteers who worked with me on many issues and made things happen.

Finally to my dear husband, who I was lucky to find, and him me.  But we came together by chance (I think it’s fate) and we’re best friends and love each other forever as soul mates.

Dear Santa:

What I want for Christmas is that you pass by our home and know that we don’t do presents so don’t want anything but a happy life together, with our dog Zoe.

If you do pass by a store, no, I can’t think of anything. My husband is even getting toilet paper through Amazon. Thank you, Santa, for all the gifts you’ve given since the day I was born. A family, friends, mentors… oh please let my father get through this latest cancer thing. Thanks so much. I hope I’ve been good this year. Holiday Cheers! Dee