Thursday, December 26, 2013

God Bless Us Everyone!

A full 24+ hours has eclipsed since Christmas Day, and I am now ready to recap the Cratchit Christmas Dinner.

I feel that post-holiday letdown moreso this year than any other...and it definitely has less to do with the lack of presents under the Christmas tree and more to do with no big holiday menus to plan for and execute.

Anyway, pictures and commentary and highlights:

It was a rather quiet Christmas, with the Nelson 5 and my parents.  Going off of context clues in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the menu consisted of roast goose, mashed potatoes, applesauce, sage and onion stuffing, and a Christmas pudding.  The point was to keep it simple and sparse.

Oh yeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaah.

This is what a Christmas Pudding looks like.  I made it the Friday before Christmas day...but I read recipes that talked about keeping it in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

Whaaaaaaaaa...?  That's a ServSafe violation if ever I saw one.

But, that's why the recipes also say to sprinkle brandy on the pudding every 7-10 days.  It's so damned well-preserved that it won't spoil without serious negligence.

As you can see, setting the ambiance was everything.  Kirby made these place cards (glue job done by Peanut, I think, though), while I printed and prepared seven copies of Act 1, Scene 8 from the play adaptation of A Christmas Carol...for a Reader's Theater performance just before dinner.

Then, my mom brought chestnuts.  As it turns out, there's several ways to prepare them - roast 'em, boil 'em, grill 'em...

For the first attempt, we opted for microwaving them.  Bad idea.

They burn rather quickly.  As you can see. And this picture was taken about 20 seconds after the entire micro was smoking.  Good thing temperatures had risen into the thirties from the negatives of the days previous.  It wasn't nearly as cold in my house when we had to open up the windows.

Plan B.  Using my mom's old-school popcorn popper.  Within 10 minutes, we had roasted them enough to split the skins easily.

Frankly, I was not impressed by the taste of a whole chestnut...kind of sweet, kind of tough.  I see why people choose to chop them or puree them.

Oh yeah - the photo op moment right here.  When several of us gather around the "open fire" to "roast" our chestnuts.  It was our hope to make Mel Torme and Nat King Cole proud.

I must say, the simplicity of the meal made Christmas morning prep work easy-peasy.  I ordered a pre-roasted goose and I just needed to warm it in the oven for about an hour.  The stuffing I made the day before and that just needed about 45 minutes in the oven (by the way, a moister stuffing WITH oysters for dear old Dad...see this post here about the last time I served my father stuffing).  The applesauce I'd done in the crockpot the day before, thus just needed to be warmed in the morning.  By the way, I could not resist a little tweak...so I added
a bag of fresh cranberries.

I know the picture is small, but this is what our dinner table looked like. Stuffing, potatoes, goose, applesauce, and a loaf of bread (from front to back).

After the meal, which, by the way, we did not feel incredibly stuffed, we watched the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol.

Then, it was time for the Christmas pudding...which I forgot to warm up in the steamer.  We settled for nuking it in the now chestnut smoke-free microwave and drizzling caramel sauce over it.  It was okay.  I will not be making and eating it again soon.  It's heavy, raisiny, and bready.  The kiddos could hardly get one bite down - too alcohol-tasting, they said.  The best part, though, of the pudding was setting it on fire.  Basically, I warmed a ladleful of whiskey, then I held an open flame to the edge and it caught instantly.  Pouring it over the pudding spread the blue flame out in a cool, surreal kind of way.

It was nice and quiet and relatively uneventful.  A real blessing.

Going to be hard to top this Christmas Dinner next year, I tell ya.  In fact, I'm sure it will have to involve costumes.

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