Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas, Part A and B

Subtitle: Sleep, Snow and Food

(Don't forget to get ready for our shared "15 Positive Things" post!  I will probably put mine up this weekend, so check back Sunday if you're planning on playing along.)

I know everyone's been Christmased to death by now, and is looking forward (or not) to ringing in the New Year.  But this is my personal journal, and although Rosie did her usual charming job sharing some of our preparations, I want to remember some of the actual day.

Or, maybe not.  Miss Chef had been feeling very much under the weather for several days--enough so that Chef Adam took a good look at her one night and sent her home.  So Christmas morning started late; about 9:30!  After opening our gifts, we spoke with my brother's family in London, and then the rest of the day went something like this:

There was a lot of snoozing on the couch that day.  And in spite of the fact that she had spent most of Christmas Eve prepping for her usual luxurious Christmas dinner, it was clear to me that Miss Chef was in no mood to cook that night!

So like millions of non-Christians and service workers everywhere, we had Chinese for Christmas dinner!

Don't be alarmed!  We knew a fully unscheduled Sunday lay ahead of us, and as fate would have it, our Christmas traditions extended themselves right along to match the extra time.  You see, when I got back from fetching Christmas dinner from China Town, I had the pleasure of announcing, "It's snowing!"  Snow had been predicted all week, but I had pshawed it, expecting no more than a dusting.

I am happy, for once, to say that I was wrong!

It was absolutely beautiful.  (So you know there are a lot of pictures to follow, right?)

Rosie and I were both eager to go exploring.  There were tons of birds out, but they didn't seem to mind the inconvenience posed by the sudden change in their world.

As I let Rosie tear around the wooded area behind the neighborhood pond, I found the most amazing sight--a single snowflake trapped by a broken web.

How happy was I to have my camera with me!?

There was no one but the crazy Yankee and her equally crazy dog out and about early that morning.  Everything was hushed; no other footsteps marked the ever-rising snow.

Ok, maybe a few "foot"prints...

Rabbit prints, if I'm not mistaken...and very fresh!

A few hours later, Miss Chef felt up to venturing outside.  We visited the neighbors who had done weeks of kitten-sitting this past fall, to deliver a little Christmas/Thank you gift.  Miss Chef also got me to reluctantly--and briefly--engage in a snowball fight.  (I have horrible aim, and spent too many winters growing up as the younger, weaker target of my brother's snowball fun.)  We also built a snowman so pathetic we neglected to give him a face or take his picture.  Instead, I will imagine that we re-created this sweetie from last year:

Ok, and yes, I did finally badger Miss Chef into getting into the kitchen and putting all that prepped food to good use.  And for you, dear food lovers, I took a few pictures.

We started with a salad...with pears poached in wine, baby greens, Bosky Acres goat cheese and a dressing made from the last of the lemon-flavored olive oil we bought in Chicago a year and a half ago!

There was also mushroom risotto (not shown), chestnut soup (with a generous dose of sherry), brussels sprouts and pecans sautéed in butter, and our usual duck breast being seared by the resident expert.

Or, as Miss Chef would say:

That's a ridiculously rich pomegranate demi/reduction/, sauce.  (Miss Chef's not here to provide me with the correct term.)  I would like to apologize for the mediocre quality of the picture, but I'm sure you can understand my anxiousness to put down the camera and pick up my fork!

As for dessert...well, we didn't eat it, we were too full!  But in answer to Lisa's question on my last post, those pink cookies with the kisses are actually flavored with maraschino cherries.  The recipe comes from Miss Chef's holiday cookie bible: a 2001 Better Homes and Gardens special issue titled..."Christmas Cookies," that she bought in the supermarket checkout!

At the risk of copyright infringement, here's the recipe:

Cherry Chocolate Kisses

Prep: 20 min.  Bake: 14 min per batch

1 cup softened butter
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp maraschino cherry liquid
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
granulated sugar
48 chocolate kisses

Heat oven to 325ºF.  Beat butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add powdered sugar and salt, beat till combined.  Beat in cherry liquid and almond extract till combined.  Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in remaining flour and the cherries with a wooden spoon.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten to 1/2-inch thickness with the bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar.  Bake about 14 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned.  Remove from oven; press an unwrapped kiss into each cookie.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.
My notes: put the kisses in immediately, or the cookies will crack--which they may do anyway; don't worry about it, they're still yummy!  Then wait about 30 seconds and eat them up!  Alternatively, push the tips of the kisses downward as they melt and you will get a nice pool of melty chocolate.  This is the very best way to eat them, according to the experts. ;-)

Also, don't forget, you can freeze them after you shape and flatten them, but before you bake them.  Freeze them on the cookie sheet to prevent sticking, then transfer to a ziploc bag, to await later baking at your convenience.


  1. Oh, yum - that's one tasty looking meal! And I have never understood how those food bloggers manage to take their gorgeous pictures while such succulent food awaits...

    The photo with the snowflake is astounding - a miracle!

    I hope Miss Chef is feeling better - and that the snow stays crisp and white!

  2. Girl, I just wanted to let you know. I used the lovely herbs from your package in our Christmas dinner to include a yummy duck we named Dana. Yep, we name our dinner birds to honor them for the life they give us. Very tasty indeed. Such a lovely slice of heaven in your woods. Remarkable snow flake picture as well.

    Merry Christmas,

  3. What?! Chinese food for Christmas Dinner! The shame! The travesty!


    No really. We had Chinese for Christmas eve, and then for Christmas dinner we picked up a deli platter with lunchmeat and cheese.
    No cooking required. lol!

    I of course made some yummy garlic mashed potatoes with lots of lumps. I cooked the entire 5lb bag and my stepmom said, "Why so much? You're going to be eating mashed potatoes for days!"

    lol! I knew better. We did end up with leftovers, but just enough to enjoy the next day and then they were gone.
    Now I'm craving mashed potatoes...

    Oh and some of the cherry chocolate kiss cookies.

    Mmm! I love marachino cherries. I have fond memories from the 80's, of coming home from long nights, and heading straight for the fridge to imbibe on a jar of marachino cherries(after gobbling down an entire can of wonton soup...but let's not go there)


    Thanks for the recipe. I will be trying that very soon.

    Oh. And the snowflake in the spiderweb? Brilliant!
    I'm sure it landed there just for you to find it.
    Good for you in noticing the small magical miracles of life. :)


  4. Chestnut soup recipe, please! Glad everyone is feeling better.

    Lovely photos, as always. You put my iPhone snaps to shame!

  5. Sounds absolutely, positively perfect. The snowflake caught in the web - WOW.

    So glad that you got a chance to have fun, relax and enjoy. And, oh my, dinner looked mahvelous. Yum. :)

  6. Oh yum, your meal sounds amazing! Well worth waiting for. I have never seen anything like that snowflake picture. That's worth saving, for sure.

  7. The food looks and sounds amazing. And I am completely enraptured by the pic of the snowflake!!

  8. Flartus, you are half way to 15 Positive Things in this one post! Miss Chef. Smoky. Rosie. The park. The snow. The food. The Christmas-miracle-of-the-snowflake. You truly had a magic Christmas.
    I love the picture of the park with the reflection in the pond by the way.

  9. What a beautiful Christmas you had! I cannot believe that snowflake waited there just for you.

    A very happy, and healthy, New Year to you both (and Rosie, of course!)

  10. Whoa! That single snowflake is stunning. I've never seen anything like it before. That has to be a special omen or something positive about the year to come-- or at least I'd like to think it is.

    Dinner looks fantastic and thanks for the recipe!

    Sending you and yours big Happy New Year wishes!

    Cheers, jj


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