Let there be peace

December 24, 2018

Child B, and Child ‘Cs arm, immortalized in Christmas memories.

And leftovers.

It was a fine Christmas dinner at Chez Brockwell. There was about five times more to eat than we needed or wanted, there was much joy, fun and chaos as gifts were opened. There were tons of laughs, and a tear or two.

In other words, it was just about a perfect Christmas, never mind it was a couple of days early.

I went to bed last night with the kitchen semi-clean, and with the avowed intention of doing no more than was needful to sustain life today. I have fulfilled that. I have put about six dishes into the mostly-full dishwasher, and run it (I have not emptied it, thankyouverymuch), and I have fixed potato skins for Child A, and I have eaten copious amounts of Christmas leftovers and am working on my second glass of good Scotch.

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We had a fine, fine Christmas dinner. There is not a single picture of it, because, well, Christmas and all its attendant chaos. Six adults, three kids, two spastic dogs, small house. You get the idea.

The best part of Christmas! AGCs, from left, 1, 3 and 2.

The best part of Christmas! AGCs, from left, 1, 3 and 2.

There is, however, this picture, the single moment during the day when we got a kindergartener and two preschoolers to stand still. And snapped quick. And they’re what it’s all about, anyway.

Dinner prep kinda got away from me, as I had to take a chunk of time out of the morning to roast the turkey I was taking to a local group home for a Christmas meal. And that wouldn’t have been so bad but for the fact I had to run hot water over the turkey, which had been sitting in the bottom of the fridge for three full days, but had barely thawed the least little bit.

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Last minute this-n-thats

December 19, 2016

Slicing the frozen cracker loaf. How thin can you get?

Slicing the frozen cracker loaf. How thin can you get?

Well, goodie basket stuff is done, and now it’s time to start thinking about Christmas dinner, which, this year, is two days early, so Child B and family can actually get back home and have Christmas morning in their own house for a change.

The final toll, along with what you’ve read about already, included 10 four-ounce jars of chicken liver pate’; eight dozen pseudo-Rain Coast Crisp crackers; and more of that damn eggnog, because I was trying to use up the last of the SECOND bottle of Everclear I bought when I decided I wanted to make more eggnog.

We will be some eggnog-drinking folks up here in this house, I am here to tell you.

The chicken liver pate’ is an old standby. When my kids were little, we made the acquaintance of a gentleman up in Northwest Arkansas who was a retired maitre’d from the MGM Grand in Vegas, and an accomplished cook. We would from time to time go to dinner at his house, and one evening, he served us a pate as an appetizer. You have never seen an elementary-age girl and a toddler chow down on some liver like Children A and B did that night. (I think that was pre-Child-C, or she was still in the formula stage.

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Post holiday sloth

December 26, 2015

Christmas dinner picnic in our pj's on the floor.

Christmas dinner picnic in our pj’s on the floor.

Happy day-after-Christmas, all! Hope your day was a wonderful one. We ate, laughed, talked, watched the babies tear into gifts (like they need more toys, but oh, what fun!), and ate. Christmas dinner was excellent, if unimaginative.

I do not plan to turn the stove on today (though Child C and AGC 2 spent the night, so I may be pressed into service cooking breakfast here about lunchtime). Beyond that, I’ll be back in cooking mode sometime over the weekend, maybe, or maybe not. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em enjoy.

The bacon fat gingersnap. With missing bite.

The bacon fat gingersnap. With missing bite.

Thank you, Lord, for not having me born into an observant Jewish or Muslim family. And thank you for pigs. Amen.

I continue to be astounded at the number of excellent things one can do with bacon. I thought perhaps I had reached the epitome of sweet-salty when I made my first beer-candied bacon a few years ago. The sweet, the salt, the smoke….ahhhhh.

I had not.

I was perusing the New York Times’ Cooking section, which is one of my bookmarked web sites in my “Food” folder, looking for ideas for new and different goodies for the Christmas treat basket/stockings. And I ran across Julia Moskin’s recipe for bacon fat gingersnaps.

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A nod to Southern tradition

December 9, 2015

“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”

― Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

We shall hope these are good. If not, well, history's on my side.

We shall hope these are good. If not, well, history’s on my side.

Perhaps it’s a tradition hangover from Thanksgiving, but I had a notion to make fruitcake for Christmas gifts.

Now, know that I am 60 years old and have never made a fruitcake in my life. Mama used to make them, some years; I don’t have her recipe. But I do have the recipe for Eudora Welty’s White Fruitcake, which comes from that repository of history and tradition, the Junior League of Jackson, Miss., cookbook. It doesn’t get much more traditional than that.

And I love Eudora Welty (“Why I Live At The P.O.” is one of the best short stories ever written). So, if I was going to make fruitcake, it might as well be the one Ms. Welty espoused.

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Cooking Christmas

December 22, 2013

It ain't Christmas if there ain't fudge. More to come in future post.

It ain’t Christmas if there ain’t fudge. More to come in future post.

Forgive me as I attempt to cobble together several different starts and stops and pieces of posts, as I have been somewhat discombobulated of late.

‘Tis the season, ‘n all that, y’know.

I’ve finished grocery shopping for Christmas, by my count, about three times. And I only need to go back once more. I’ve made some of the Christmas candy, with more to come, likely Christmas Eve. And I have to go to Little Rock tomorrow, pick up NS, and hustle back, and fall into a day-and-a-half kitchen marathon that will wind up with Christmas.


One impressive piece of cow, right here.

One impressive piece of cow, right here.

I decided a week or so ago, in a conversation with a friend, that rather than prime rib, I’d do a beef tenderloin. And residing in my extra freezer as we speak is a seven-pound specimen of same; first time I ever spent more than $100 on a piece of meat. I’ll sous vide him the day before, then sear him off in time for dinner. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Roasted broccoli with lemon and pecans, since Child B requested that we have SOMETHING green.  Homemade rolls. Cranberry salad (It’s Christmas, after all!). Sweet potato casserole. Baked pears with balsamic and blue cheese, more pears with cinnamon and brown sugar. White chocolate cherry cheesecake, and chocolate pots de creme. I suspect I will yield to the pleas of the children and make mac and cheese.

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A pork chop for you

December 20, 2013

Well. Here I am, having woefully neglected y’all once again. Mea Culpa. But hey, it’s Christmas.

I actually have had a post written since last weekend, but I just haven’t downloaded and edited the photos and inserted them. It’s about Christmas dinner. Perhaps you will see it before then.

At present, I am working on Day 2 of sloth, accentuated by a nasty sinus flare-up that has me croaking like a frog, popping steroids and Benadryl and Sudafed and Zyrtec and some antibiotic pill that’s approximately 1.5 inches long, and doing only the minimum necessary to get through the day.

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A window full of Santas and angels

A window full of Santas and angels

Long-time readers may remember that I am not traditionally someone who gets all caught up in Christmas. In fact, I have been accused of downright Grinchiness (if that is a word, and if it’s not, it should be).

However, for the first time in a long time, I have Child A under my roof, and she has always been the Christmasiest of all my kids. So, Thanksgiving weekend, there we were, putting up the brand new tree (because apparently the other one, which I have not seen in four years, since the last time I put it up, did not make a move somewhere in the interim).

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It’s a quiet Christmas morning at Chez Brockwell, we having returned home after Christmasing in Philadelphia and in Memphis. Lucy is most appreciative we’re home. And it was a most festive Christmas breakfast — NS had leftover pizza, and I had steel-cut oatmeal. Christmas dinner will be lasagna, made with some of the Italian charcuterie I brought home from Philly. The same, in fact, that was dinner for me last night, because I wasn’t up to cooking, nor was I up to eating pizza.

Here would be the centerpiece of our early Christmas celebration:

Amazing Grandchild 1 and her new ride

That is, in fact, Amazing Grandchild 1,  Miss McCallan Hope Ellis, age not-quite-10-months, who has had a most excellent Christmas and has provided hours of entertainment for aunties, uncles and grandparents. And who will be arriving at my house on Tuesday, so y’all may not see a whole lot of posting from me this coming week. Although I will most assuredly be cooking for her mama, who has already placed an order for red beans and rice. And she enjoyed paella enough the last time I did it that I might make that again as well.

I cooked a Christmas dinner of sorts for the fam on Friday evening — didn’t want to get too traditional, as they’ll have two more before they go home. I had a smoked turkey from the PJMP (formerly Petit Jean Farms, now Petit Jean Mountain Pastures, and not, as I’d tried to call them, Petit Jean Mountain Meadows), so that was the centerpiece, and I had to make cranberry salad, because. Well. I just did. I made mac and cheese for NS and Son-In-Law, who fell off his vegan wagon long enough to have a bit of it, black bean and corn salad, and zucchini fritters for Child A, who couldn’t be there because of a migraine, and Child C and the childrens’ godmother and her partner. And a big plate of caprese salads with the Mennonites’ greenhouse tomatos. And lemon icebox pies which nobody ate because we were all full. Not exactly a traditional Christmas dinner, but hey, that’s just fine.

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