Posts Tagged With: desserts

CHRISTMAS FUN

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Christmas every year looks almost the same at my house. Endless cards and games between gnoshing.  Theo, Cedric (hidden) Kristanne and Doug play 13, the national card game of Viet Nam while…

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…while Mason and Virginia play cribbage at the other end of the table. People change places, step in and out of games and in general have a good time.

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We chose a Mexican theme for this Christmas. Christmas Eve dinner was home-made chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice and pinto beans with a romaine salad. As the family members grow, it’s tough to fit everyone in with one picture.

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After dinner we took a walk into the night to look back at the lights and found our selves in awe of the starry, starry night. Stars so close we could see the constellations and Milky Way as though touchable. Virginia started a carol and we stood in the street and sang and gave thanks that light pollution has not blocked ancestral skies on our tiny portion of the planet.

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Grandson, Stewart, home from Japan for Christmas, brought this sample of Japanese foods. He taught us how easy Japanese is to learn because the characters are so consistent. If a character means house, or rock or walk, it will always mean that no matter how many characters in a sentence.  His brother, Mason, easily picked up some Japanese words. Leave it to the young.

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Christmas day was more of the same. My brother, Bill, left, joined us for the afternoon. We are playing elevator with Stewart, Virginia, Mason, Owen, Ken and myself. At the opposite end of the table, Theo, Doug, Kristanne and Laurie play RummiKub.

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We played around with hats and I thought of some artists paintings as I looked at what the camera did to Mason’s arm. One giant appendage and one shrunken.

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I rarely wear this hat, but I love it.

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It has seven watches glued on it, plus other fascinating pins, buttons, beads and junk.

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I bought a Playboy jacket at a second hand store just for the buttons. (I’m a collector.)  We had great fun with it. I liked this picture of Owen, though a bit blurry and in a distracting background.

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It’s tough to get Owen to stand still for a picture, but I love this smile.

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And Dad, too. I liked this one though the light wasn’t quite right.

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But he liked a different one. I think he was trying not to laugh.

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Stewart said, no way. The hat was too small and he couldn’t get the jacket on his second arm.

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None of these pictures are in the correct order. I didn’t remember to take a picture of our Christmas Day dinner, which was chili rellenos with an apple and cabbage pomegranate coleslaw, and home made-by Doug and Virginia- Chicken, Pork and chili cheese tamales. Goodt stuff.

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Before we finished Christmas dinner, the desert table was almost bare.

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We had our anonymous book trade, only three to open. And, all too soon, it was bedtime for me,  the picture taker. My ears picked up hushed conversation sliding under my bedroom door as I succumbed to sleep.

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The next morning, everyone was up bright and early. Ken and Laurie’s family drove back to Reno in time to put Stewart, Mason and Kristanne on an Airplane for Las Vegas. Home for Mace and Stan; Stewart will reconnect with his girlfriend before returning to Japan.

My cup runneth over.

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SIMPLIFYING THE HOLIDAYS

I ran into my friend Suki Tutthill at the bank  yesterday. She is hosting 31 people for Thanksgiving dinner. I groaned. Too much work. “No”, she said. “Its a free for all. I’m not even allowed in the kitchen. The women bring stuff and cook. The men do the clean up and I provide the place. Finding the dishes after everyone leaves can be interesting,” she chuckles. Hmmm. Sounds like fun. My simplify Thanksgiving this year is going to my daughter’s house and bringing the cranberries and a salad. We are a games playing family and enjoy the day long into the evening where turkey sandwiches, snacks, cards and loud competitive family stories are as much a part of the day as the dinner.

Our holiday get-to-gethers need simplifying in the future. Welcome holidays “lite”.  No more  wobbling, overloaded  from the table and packing on the  pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.

My plan is to unsweeten the sweet potatoes, salads that don’t sog,  berry and apple pies without bottom crust. No side dishes and snacks with cream and sour cream. (Rich side dishes can be the centerpiece of another dinner.)

Lighten the work load, too.  Mash the potatoes with the peelings on. Make stuffing on the side ahead of time. Smoke the turkey. Smoked turkey takes one and one-half hours on a kettle barbeque with a drip dish at the bottom and the guys do it,  leaving the kitchen and oven free for other things.  Gravy  made days ahead by roasting a chicken and two turkey thighs. On the big day, just reheat.  Use  paper plates and paper napkins with dinner served buffet style.  Yup! Traditions can and do change.

I used to try and prepare everyone’s favorite dish for Thanksgiving. Pretzel jello for Laurie, sweet potatoes with rum, pineapple, orange juice and banana for Virginia, macaroni shells stuffed with Italian sausage for Kristanne. Ken, Doug, and Rich always concentrated on the potatoes and turkey.

Now, Doug picks blackberries every year for pies at Thanksgiving, Christmas and our July family reunion. Cedric makes walnut and pecan pies to die for. Virginia makes a pear tart that no one will give up. At one time, I  prepared no less than three vegetable side dishes such as corn pudding, creamed baby onions, burgundy carrots, spinach souffle, Harvard beets, marinated mushrooms, artichoke quiche. An embarrassment of riches.

As we give thanks  for our bounty,  suitably lighter,  we  know our table is still overladen compared to 98% of people in the world. It is appropriate that we are thankful, that we share, and that we have the means to help others at this special time of year and still enjoy our celebrated feast.

 

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