Mentally, I wouldn't mind just going a day without food, but already my stomach is saying, "FEED ME!" I woke up intending to make good food choices, and the first test comes: I open the refrigerator and there is the leftover layered cake dessert (chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, whipped topping, with Heath Bar brickle on top). I gird my loins and reach for the yogurt, quickly scoop out a half-cup, and return the container to the refrigerator without eating any of the dessert. A minor victory early in the morning.
There were a few surprises connected with Christmas this year.
The first surprise came when I was able to successfully make a braided, sweet Christmas bread to give as presents to the people at church. Earlier in the week my friend Judy brought me a braided Christmas bread which was beautiful to behold - and I cut it in thirds and ate my portion before she ever left the house. If she is looking at this, she will of course, not recognize that this is the same recipe she gave me...
because I did not do the second small braid on top, I substituted finely diced prunes for the raisins, and I did not decorate with pecan halves or sliced cherries. I did, however, put add the icing after it cooled a bit.
Another surprise was a Charlie Brown tree from my younger brother. We laughed when we saw it. When our boy was little, father and son would go out to the field and chop down a cedar tree for us to decorate, but in the intervening years, we have expanded to fill the spaces in our house, and since our son moved back in with us, we literally have no space to put a tree, so we have not had one for a few years.
Now we do.
Earlier in the month there was an interview on National Public Radio with British cook Nigella Lawson, who said
Sometimes if you cook in a complicated way, your tension translates to your guests. They'll have a much better time having chili and baked potatoes than they would if you did roast duck with a wild cherry sauce and then had to lie down and cry for a while.I was very amused by this statement, in a rueful sort of way, because I have had several very disastrous Christmas day dinners. Roast duck would not be a problem for me because we used to raise ducks for meat and so I cooked plenty of them over the years. But an attempt to roast a larger cousin - a goose - was probably the worst tasting dinner I have ever made in my life. And then I spilled nearly a cup of liquid goose grease all over the floor, which our dog began licking up before I could stop him and get it cleaned up, and he became extremely sick from all the fat.
And I always laugh when I hear the lyric "Chestnuts roasting on the open fire" because I did indeed attempt to roast chestnuts one Christmas year in the oven, only I did not know what I was doing and they exploded all over the inside of the oven and I had a horrific mess to clean up.
Taking to heart Lawson's comments, especially remember past stressful dinners on Christmas day, I decided this year we should have something simple - comfort food, if you will - and we settled on ham, which was already cooked (in fact, it was meat I cut off a bone that a friend gave me when she cleaned out her freezer) and macaroni and cheese, and green beans, and the dessert I already mentioned, which is a family favorite.
Now the other big surprise was this cookbook.
My sister said she went to see PW when the book tour made a stop in Los Angeles, but I had no clue, no clue at all, that she was going to buy one of the cookbooks for me - and no, it is not signed, the crowd was too huge.
Now it happens that PW offers a recipe for macaroni and cheese that is just a bit different than the one I was planning to use, so I did her version and it turned out very well indeed.
And a good time was had by all!