~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The holidaze

On Christmas Day we slept in, which nixed our plans of seeing an early show of The Hobbit, which we still have not seen. (I clutch my geek crown against my head and stubbornly refuse to let go, despite the truth.) We ate breakfast, exchanged gifts, as one does. The night before we opened one gift, and mine was a special episode of the British SF comedy show Red Dwarf. I had no idea they were still making episodes. On Christmas Day, I opened my next present and laughed and laughed and laughed: A boxed set of the first eight seasons! And apparently season nine is on order. Goodness. Or “smeg off, you smeghead.”

That afternoon we went to Ken’s dad’s wife’s son’s house (don’t worry, it confuses me, too, sometimes). We go there once a year, descending right about the time a sumptuous buffet dinner is served, and yet they greet us, near strangers, with warmth and hospitality, for which every year I am humbled. They gave us a bottle of merlot, and then Ken’s dad and wife gave us an automated wine bottle opener—once again, I laughed and laughed. They all swear they were not in collusion over this!

We then came home, watched the Doctor Who Christmas special (I’m liking Oswin/Clara/?? and am intrigued by her possibilities), and fell over.

We got up early this morning to work out with our trainer, although with both of us still being sick, wasn’t the most strenuous she’d ever put us through, but at least we were there and tried. We came home and dove into brunch preparations, as Ken’s brother and wife and three boys, along with Ken’s mom, were headed here for Boxing Day. (Although I’m apparently the only person who calls it Boxing Day, much to everyone else’s confusion.) Steve and Joelle haven’t had the chance to visit us since we moved here eight years ago, so this was quite a treat! We hauled out the china and I realized I had to polish silver (dammit), and we bustled around and thankfully they got a late start so we were able to get everything ready in time.

The menu:
  • build-your-own-breakfast-burrito-bar: wraps, scrambled eggs, spicy chicken sausage, hash browns, mushrooms, green onions, green pepper, kalamata olives, cheddar, feta, salsa, sour cream (I hope I’m not forgetting anything…!)
  • scones (delicious! made by Ken’s mom) with pomegranate jam and lemon curd and clotted cream
  • fruit salad (made by Joelle—so many nummy fruits!)
  • mimosas
  • bloody marys (nobody had any, which was fine)
  • juices
  • coffee and tea

I had an amusing moment when we decided mimosas were the drink of the day: I removed the foil and twisty wire bit from the champagne, then turned to fold a kitchen towel to place over the cork (because I know the proper way to open champagne is to hold the towel over the cork and gently twist the bottle). As I was turned away, the cork blew! It bounced off the ceiling, hit me on the head, bounced up again, landed on the floor, and rolled under a cabinet. I confess I shrieked in surprise. But nary a drop was lost, which is the important thing (that, and no light fixtures were damaged, unlike when Ken opens champagne).

The boys had brought their new Christmas bicycles, so the menfolk all rode to the beach (about 3.5 miles away) while I tried to give the house tour to Joelle (and Mom, but she’s been here tons of times), but we were drinking mimosas, so it took a little longer than usual.

When we opened presents, I had to laugh again—apparently the theme of this holiday was food and cooking and whatnot. Steve & Joelle gave us homemade spiced nuts, along with pizza oil and a flatbread pizza crust mix, and Mom gave us glass food storage containers (see my last post! but I overheard Ken suggesting this to her earlier, so…) and a garlic grater and a baked potato bag. (My sister Donna had given us an oil sprayer and a bottle of Carmel Valley oil, and then of course there was the previously mentioned wine and wine bottle opener.)

Eventually they had to head home, and I spent the rest of the evening doing rounds of dishes (lots and lots of my grandmother’s china and Ken’s grandmother’s silver), in between curling up to watch various things with Ken.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Food, glorious food!

I’m finally starting to feel better from cold #2 (which came on the heels of cold #1, thanks to Ken bringing it home with him), which means food other than mac-and-cheese (albeit organic whole wheat mac-and-cheese) is sounding appealing to me. Plus we did a major shopping today because we’re hosting Boxing Day brunch for Ken’s brother and sister-in-law and their three boys and Ken’s mom.

I don’t enjoy cooking, but I enjoy eating, and it’s nice to be interested in something more than mac-and-cheese and fresh meals from Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy. I did make a huge vat of split pea soup last week; a good chunk of that is in the freezer (along with the vat of red sauce I made) and I even gave a goodly amount to our tenant.

Here’s what’s on tap for the next few days:

Tonight’s dinner will be Mongolian-type stir-fry with veggies, tofu, and noodles. I actually bought most of the ingredients last week but we’ve been way to tired to cook them, so I’m glad they’re still good.

Tonight I’ll also be throwing a mess of onions in the slow cooker to caramelize overnight, in preparation for a near-future slow cooker French onion soup. I’ve got the cheese to shred (a gruyere/cheddar mix), and an adorable tiny whole wheat loaf from TJ’s to go with it.

At some point there’ll also be a vat of sloppy joes in the slow cooker, some of which we’ll freeze. Freezer’s getting full…!

We’ve got a great two-bean soup with sausage (we use a chicken-herb sausage from TJ’s) and kale recipe that’ll happen soon, too. Now that the weather’s turned cold (and is so pleasantly overcast and sometimes even rainy!) I want hearty soups and stews, and soups in particular are a great way to load up on healthy veggies!

For brunch, we’re having a make-your-own-breakfast-burrito bar (TJ’s whole wheat olive oil wraps, scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheddar-gruyere and feta cheeses, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, green onion, green pepper, salsa, sour cream…I feel like I'm forgetting something), scones (Ken’s mom’s bringing those) with clotted cream and lemon curd and jam, fruit salad (via Ken’s sister-in-law), and various drinks (coffee, tea, bloody marys, mimosas).

Right now, though, it’s time to stop thinking about food, continue sipping my Duchess Grey tea, and get back to work!