Saturday, December 27, 2008

Three Christmases

You may ask: What could be better than a week of Christmas? To which I would answer: A week of Christmas with notably less traveling, snow storms and work mixed in. Nonetheless, we have have a wonderful 7-10 days of Noel. Pour yourself some eggnog, buckle up, and get ready for a Yuletide adventure the likes of which you can scarcely imagine, unless you can imagine a good deal of travel, lounging, and getting of presents.

Our holiday began with Christmas #1 in scenic Naperville, Illinois. A huge storm was heading in from the West which required us to make an emergency change to our flight so that we left four hours earlier than planned. This move paid off as we flew in to Chicago just ahead of the storm. We had to wait an hour after we landed (because they didn't have anywhere for the plane to park or some such nonsense) but we were safely in Illinois.

We got to Jen's parents' house safely, though I fell asleep in my food. The next day we had our Christmas Eve where we enjoyed many of the Ernst family's traditional fare such as tourtière, clam corn casserole, and baked beans.

On Christmas morning we awoke to a tree littered with gifts that in no way indicated the grave financial ruin our country is currently experiencing. To Jen's delight she received a horn of plenty that she was able to play with under the Christmas tree.

For dinner we had a fantastic shrimp cocktail followed by ham, turkey, roasted potatoes and parsnips, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, green beans, stuffing, and squash.

The next morning the temperature dropped to -6 degrees. It was so cold that the inside of the windows were covered in sheets of ice.

Jen's dad made us corned beef hash which warmed us up quite nicely. Along with the hot tea, coffee, and newspaper articles about rampant Illinois state political corruption, it was fixing up to be a nice cozy morning.

Getting a little stir crazy (and having my flight back to New York canceled because of the nasty weather) we decided to walk to the local library. The temperature was -6 with a -30 degree wind chill so, as you can imagine, this was a walk we very quickly regretted.

After a tremendously awful drive to Rhode Island Wednesday night we awoke on Thursday morning to our second Christmas. My parents had unbagged their traditional tabletop tree and were ready to party!

With Chef Mom's direction I put the finishing touches on her cheddar buttermilk biscuits while she made the herbed scrambled eggs.

After that we journeyed to the other end of the state (about 45 minutes by car) and met with some more family. My cousin Lisa made homemade manicotti, as well as a seafood bisque before her main Christmas dinner.

The turkey was stuffed with my great grandmother's stuffing, a recipe that threatens to break my family apart. We are pretty well divided into two camps: those who think that Christmas does not exist without this stuffing, and those who think that this stuffing is a nasty blight on all that is good about food and cooking. I happen to think it's pretty tasty but I don't think I could eat an entire plate of it as my mother claims to want to do, nor to I recoil at the thought of it as my father does.

The next morning began with Aunt Pauline's traditional "little breads." The one pictured here is probably a little bigger than a quarter. Nothing says Christmastime quite like little breads.

After a much less stressful drive home we enjoyed our Christmas Eve #3 dinner of raviolis, spinach (from the farm), and baked potatoes (from the farm) with truffle oil. I must've been exhausted form the drive and the hectic week because this plate presentation is just idiotic. I couldn't have been in my right mind when I threw this mess together. It looks like a strange house with a potato roof and a ravioli foundation. I hate it and I am ashamed that I created it.

This morning we had scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, toast, tea, and cider for breakfast. Then we opened our presents

Jen got another box of chocolate covered cherries.

I got a science fiction book about a black hole and a terrible moral quandry . . . my two favorite things!

In need of a lighter dinner tonight I chopped up a selection of farm vegetables including shallots, onion, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and turnips with just a little garlic, olive oil, and thyme. We enjoyed the root vegetables with a pan-roasted chicken breast.

For dessert I made a quick hard sauce to accompany Jen's mother's plum pudding that she sent us home with.

All throughout this afternoon we have lounged and, for some reason, repeatedly watched the third movies in a number of different series starting with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade followed by Return of the Jedi and, most recently, Back to the Future III. Now we just have to figure out if we want to watch The Karate Kid III or just go to bed. I suspect the latter.

Merry Christmas to those brave souls that are still reading!

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