Great Christmas

Dinner went over well.  Mom likes my cooking, and if she didn’t, she would not hesitate to say so.  We had the curried eggs and smoked salmon while we waited for the main course and fixings to reheat.  It’s hard to screw up curried eggs, or rolling up strips of smoked salmon into “logs.”

She was funny about dessert.  She did have one of my neighbor’s cookies (holy hell, my neighbor is a phenomenal baker!), a piece of my peppermint bark, and a slice of carrot cake, but did not want any of the leftover desserts.  Every time we show up with food, we have no way of knowing what she has suddenly decided either not to eat, or to cut way back on, so it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

Anyway, mom loved the shearling slippers I bought her (not UGGS).  She had been talking about wanting a pair of slippers for months, but wanted to try them on before buying them.  That wasn’t going to happen, but I know her size, and I know her feet get cold, so shearling “pixie boot” slippers were the solution.  I also am very familiar with the brand, and know how the sizing runs.  Fortunately, they fit her feet just fine, so I didn’t have to take them home, pack them back up, use the return shipping label, and drop them off at the UPS Store a mile away for a refund.  I would have done that, easy-peasy, if necessary, but it wasn’t.

On our way out, mom gave me her hybrid Phalaenopsis, a friend had given her a few months ago.  It had done blooming, and she had no clue what to do with it.  My instructions were too complicated for her, so she gave it to me.

As of now, it smells like our turkey stock is done simmering.  I’ll turn off the burner, and leave it sit overnight to cool before filtering out the mirepoix and bones.  There might be some recoverable turkey flesh for the cats and dog, too.

Tomorrow night, it’s turkey pot pie for sure.  Yum!

I hope everyone else had a good Christmas, even if it was “Chinese and a movie.”

Merry Christmas

Okay, so it’s still Christmas Eve in the U.S., but it’s Christmas in most of the world.

I feel good about tomorrow’s big schlep over to mom’s place with the feast packed in coolers, and a triple crockpot contraption that can reheat things while we have the hors d’oeuvres.  She’s 88, and hasn’t cooked a meal in many years, not even for herself.  We have the catering thing down to a science, and have been doing this for ~15 years by now, so it’s pretty easy.  The only adjustment we really had to make when we moved was to substitute either potatoes au gratin or scalloped potatoes for mashed, since they travel better in a long car ride.

Eighty plus percent of the labor was done by 3:00 this afternoon:

  • turkey, still to be roasted
  • gravy still to be made
  • cran-apple sauce, done
  • potatoes au gratin, done, but needs to be heated tomorrow
  • stuffing/dressing, still to be made
  • sweet potato mash, done, but needs to be heated tomorrow
  • mixed veggies, steam-in-bag to be nuked at mom’s
  • carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, done
  • curried eggs, hard boiled already, but yolks need to be curried
  • peppermint bark, done
  • cookies, done, courtesy of a neighbor who stopped by with some she had made
  • smoked salmon, still to be artfully arranged on a plate, and plastic wrapped

The most labor intensive thing so far was grating all those carrots, making the frosting for the cake, assembling the layers, and frosting it.  That was food-wise.  The remaining food items probably require less than an hour’s worth of real labor; mostly, it’s waiting for things to come out of the ovens.  Having two ovens is a godsend around the holidays.

Other than the cake, today’s biggest labor project was making a new ~30′ leash for our dog, out of braided clothesline.  That took a while, but only because I had to untangle whatever remained of the three 33.3′ lengths of cord every so often, because for every stitch I braided, one would reverse-braid lower down the cord, which I’d have to disassemble, so I could continue.  I could have knocked out a 6′ version in 15 minutes or less, including affixing the hardware.

Next up are New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.  That’ll involve roasting a duck, some herbed up wild rice mix, whatever veggies we have on hand, a bottle of cabernet franc, and at midnight, some champagne.  We don’t cater that for mom.  It’s just a tradition I started ~15 years ago that we keep doing in-house.  That, and watching the Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy.  No parties, or fireworks on NYE fo us.  We just fix a fancy dinner, and settle in for some damn good classic TV, with our cats and dog gathered around the fireplace.

Nephew and His GF

Yesterday, we left ourselves an hour and a half to get to Washington Rock to meet up with my nephew and his new girlfriend.  We got there before they did, but only by about 15 minutes, because the traffic was kind to us.  Just as well, since it was rather windy, and we were standing on George Washington’s lookout point in the Watchung Mountain Range, from which he could observe British troop movements in 1777.  From there, you can see Lower Manhattan, way in the distance, all the way down to Perth Amboy.  There’s not much to the park itself, but the view is phenomenal.

I handed them each a stocking stuffer worth of John & Kira’s chocolate bees (they’re chocolates filled with a honey caramel filling) upon first meeting them.  After we looked around for 20 minutes or so, standing out in the wind and cold, we agreed to meet up at Trap Rock Brewery for an early gastropub dinner.  I hadn’t been to Trap Rock since we moved out of state a decade ago.  The food is good, their in-house made microbrews are good, and although the food is not inexpensive, and all the brews they serve go for $6.50+ per glass (not even a full pint), they will fill a 1 gal. growler for $13, which is a phenomenal value.  So, I had them fill my big growler from Cape May Brewery with their Kestrel IPA, which is not at all over the top hoppy, before bringing me the bill.  It was quite reasonable for four people, all things considered, even with the generous tip I gave our waitress for her excellent service.

I hosted seven people after my dad’s funeral at another gastropub owned by the same family a few towns away, when my mom backed out of hosting it herself that evening (with good reason), and was similarly shocked by how little the bill was, compared to what I was expecting.  At least these gastropubs have vegetarian options for those who want them.  I’m an omnivore, but those who don’t want to eat animal flesh aren’t stuck with a soup or salad, unless that’s what they want.

Overall, yesterday’s meeting went well, and I really like my nephew’s girfriend.  It was well worth the drive there, and the one back, which took over two hours because we got stuck in stand still traffic behind a couple of accidents.  We typically only get to see my nephew once a year, around Memorial Day weekend, in MN, so this was a bit of a treat.

Happy holidays, everyone!