Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Recap

I hope you all had a lovely holiday.  As far as ours went, I can't complain, although the weather was gross.  Call me crazy, but I prefer cold weather in the winter.  And if it MUST be freakishly warm, I'd rather it wasn't as damp and nasty as the bottom of a gym laundry hamper.  On Christmas morning, Jon (wearing his utility kilt and a tall cap that Brigid knit for him) had to climb out on the roof and fortify one of the chimneys against the driving rain.

We had a quiet Christmas Eve with just Jon, me, and all four kids.  Seamus made gnocchi, while Jon and I attended a drinks party at our neighbors.  After dinner, we opened our presents to each other and the ones that had arrived from grandparents and godparents.  For Jon, I took an antique wool pea coat that he'd bought at a vintage store when he was in high school and had it restored.  It was in such bad shape that the dry cleaners refused to touch it, but I took it to a little alterations shop in our neighborhood and they cleverly patched up the holes and made it nearly as good as new.  Jon had a necklace made for me with a silver buffalo pendant--to symbolize my beloved hometown.

Christmas morning was fraught with domestic disasters.  Just when I needed fresh, hot coffee for the whiskey cake I'd planned for that night's dessert, the capricious Italian coffee pot did that irritating thing where it boils furiously and produces only a trickle of thick, burned, (yet syrupy) coffee. The dough for the babka, which I'd planned for our breakfast, refused to rise, and I completely forgot that I was supposed to have a supply of freshly mashed potatoes on hand for the dinner rolls, which set me back even more.  To top all, when I started the sugared cranberries, which I wanted to serve as a pre-dinner snack for guests, I learned that it was a several-hours operation.  When will I learn to read the entire recipe before attempting a new dish? Later, I spilled an entire shaker of salt on the very expensive organic rib roast, as if Christmas itself were playing the world's oldest joke on me, and I discovered that one of my best dinner plates was cracked.

In the end, Jon fixed the coffee pot, Grace ironed the dinner napkins, Seamus helped with the various baking projects, and Brigid spray-painted the pears I wanted to use as a dinner table centerpiece.  The babka, somewhat flat, was finished by noon.  The cranberries, not fully dried, were still presentable by the time our guests arrived.  The roast was tender and perfectly rare, although very salty on its perimeter. The cake was delicious, and the rolls had their requisite dose of fluffy mashed potatoes.  We hosted my sister and her husband as well as a friend of ours and had an evening of laughter and fun.

I didn't take a lot of pictures, so have only these two lame ones to share.

My buffalo necklace

A peek at our table


  1. My Christmas dinner mishap started when I failed to really think through the entire dinner or bother myself with how to cook that expensive organic ham I had ordered weeks ago until about noon Christmas day. Our dinner guests arrived around 6, when I was just pulling the ham out and just putting the corn pudding, which needed to bake at 400 for an hour, in the oven. When the timer when off for the corn pudding was when I realized I had never adjusted the oven from the 275 ham temp to the necessary 400 for the corn pudding. So needless to say, dinner was late. Oh well. We had good wine. And once I turned the oven up to the proper temp, the corn pudding was done rather quickly.
    I'm with you on winter being winter. Enough with the humidity already. It is starting to feel like December out there though, although I'm starting to wish for snow instead of all this rain, as my yard looks like a pathetic mud pit.

  2. Oh! The Christmas spirits were vexing your dinner for sure, but sounds like it worked out anyway.
    What lovely gifts you and your husband exchanged! Sometimes the simple, meaningful one is the best. I got soap and wine from my husband, who honored my request to keep it simple and not spend a lot. What a guy!
    Your table looks like perfection.

  3. You have Christmas poppers on the table! I love those silly things!

    That necklace looks really cool. I'm glad the dinner turned out fine - it sounds like a fantastic menu! I think I will have to find out how to make sugared cranberries.

    1. I found the recipe on Pinterest. It's quite easy, but you have to allow the fresh cranberries to soak in simple syrup for a minimum of 4-6 hours and then you dust them with more sugar and have to let them dry for two more hours. Once the sugar is dry, you get this really neat sweet crunch, plus the little pop of the tart cranberry. Here's a link to the recipe http://www.tablerpartyoftwo.com/sugared-cranberries/ If I were to make this again, I'd make half the amount of simple syrup and use half the sugar for dusting. There was tons leftover.