Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Wrap Up

Now that Christmas has settled on my thighs and waist. I believe it is time for a post holiday wrap up. A month ago the idea of putting up two trees seemed like a good one. Faced with the daunting task of packing up everything and tucking it back into the rafters, I am not so sure. Part of me would like to continue picking at the ham bone and wading through a tin of cup shaped papers for the last Danish butter cookie. The other part is ready to move on. I will miss the Christmas lights, but not the chaos of trying to do to much in to short of time.
Before I pack up the poinsettias, I will leave you with some observations, reflections and a fattening recipe. Then maybe balance will return to the universe, everyone can breath again, and go back to eating salads.

Lessons learned:
Before you seal your Christmas cards, put the letter in it.
If you provide a craft project for your child, be prepared to devote your whole day to doing it yourself.
You can be disfigured by 3rd degree burns from a glue gun.
Pump and Go scooters do not "assemble in just one minute".
Your child should not be present when your husband is putting a Pump and Go scooter together.
If you make it back from the store with the sugar you forgot, you will discover you are out of butter.
When you are back with the butter you will find 5 pounds of sugar you bought and put away a month ago.

Surprisingly:
I never went to the mall.
I did not stay up to wrap on Christmas Eve.
I attended a Christmas party as a guest and not as a Caterer.
I skipped "It's A Wonderful Life" on TV.

Things I' m not surprised about:
No Lexus in the driveway with a big red bow.
If given the opportunity, My mom would cook 19 entrees 43 sides and 27 desserts for just 6 of us.
At about 12 years of age, children learn that Santa will come even if they don't clean their room.
There is nothing on a child's list that costs less than $59.99.
In the end the toy that was $.99 at the dollar store is far better then any toy you payed $59.99 for.

Observations:
The cat really appreciated the milk put out for Santa.

And Wishes for the New Year:
May the coupon for sweetened condensed milk not expire before you finally get to use it.
Here's hoping the store you need to return that sweater at, is still there.
Best of luck getting that 7' tall tree back in it's 3' box.
May you go a full 11 months before you have to read another sappy Christmas letter.

Bleu Ball
Ingredients:
6oz. bleu cheese
8oz. cream cheese
1/2 cups toasted almonds or pecans
2 green onions
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
fresh ground black pepper

Crumble bleu cheese, stir in to softened cream cheese. Finely chop green onion and toasted nuts
add all but about a tablespoon(save for garnish) to the cheese mixture. Stir in pepper sauce and about 2 or 3 grinds of fresh black pepper. Line a cup shaped bowl with plastic wrap, press in cheese mixture and chill. When firm, turn out on a serving plate, remove plastic wrap. Garnish with remaining chopped green onion and nuts. Serve with crackers, bread or apples.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Christmas Project

Beginning the week after Thanksgiving I unpacked endless dusty boxes of decorations, patiently unsnarled garland by the yard, and buried the house in Christmas artifacts. I had plans to bake everything, send out cards with a heart warming letters in them and do all sorts of holiday stuff that people who don't cater for a living do. It could be my Christmas project list needs re-evaluating.

I realized that help from my family would be limited, my son, Zayne is 12 with the attention span of a 12 year old and my husband, Richard, doesn't do glitter. Zayne, had definite ideas on how the the decor should shape up, but his scooter was far more interesting then helping mom. While I dangled precariously from a ladder with a string of lights in one hand and a staple gun in the other, Richard pulled out the smoker.

The smoker was a gift I had given Richard on some special occasion years before. We had tried it maybe once, it took so long to make dinner it got put away and almost forgotten! Now in a bit of roll reversal, as I am risking life and limb hanging lights, my husband is making dinner.

Richard's project might have been as challenging as my decorating, he babied the smoker all day and into the night. He stoked the fire watched the temperature gauges and produced the most beautiful smoked pork and chicken I've ever seen. The taste? exceptional! sweet smoky mesquite, tender and juicy. We pulled the pork and ate it with spicy sauce on a soft bun. The smoked chicken was delicious as a topping on a white pizza later in the week.

Call me Scrooge, I' am not sharing the technique Richard used to make delicious smoked meals, just yet. We both agree more experience is needed before we can give out advice. I will however share a recipe that will make Christmas projects a little brighter. At least if you take time to make this recipe, the decorations look a lot better, and the must do Christmas list, considerably less pressing.

The beverage recipe below is fantastic. It is called the Candy Cane and I had first made it in one of my cooking classes during Christmas Season. Everyone loved it so much, I kept it on the back burner until I could share it again. It has all the minty and creamy flavors of the holiday and the alcohol for a great party.

CANDY CANE Ingredients:
¾ ounce Peppermint Schnapps
¾ ounce Creme De Cacao
¼ ounces Grenedine
half and half
7-Up
Directions:
In highbal glass filled with ice, combine peppermint schnapps, white creme de cacao and grenandine.
Fill Glass with half and half.
Top with 7-Up.
Garnish with a candy Cane.