On the plus side, the weather was very mild for us this Christmas. It snowed a little, not amounting to much, and the roads melted clear before we had to leave. The sun even made a few appearances. I read the entire Dark is Rising sequence, sitting near a roaring woodstove with a cat nearby. We had some great food – my father and I made fresh pasta for lasagna, there was salumi and good cheese, fresh grapefruit and satsumas, and piles and piles of Frangos. For Christmas dinner I made sweet bao dough and a pork-bean sprout filling, and my father made a cucumber salad with fresh ginger and the ma la oil we made for him.
On the not-so-plus side, my husband and I both came down with bad colds, so I couldn’t go visit my grandfather, and on Christmas day a family member became very ill and needed to go to the ER. That evening was spent cooking the hum bao we had started earlier in the day, keeping the woodstove going, and waiting anxiously for the phone to ring. I don’t really recommend it. The best thing about it was that hum bao and cucumber salad are both really ideal when you have to reheat food at midnight for people who have been sitting in a hospital for five or six hours.
We’re really hoping next year is an improvement on this one.
I hope everyone had as fun a Christmas as we did. We went to my parents’ house, bearing five pounds of fresh mussels, two loaves of bread, several packages of salumi, a bottle of wine and some cheese. My father brined and roasted a turkey and I baked a sweet potato pie. We shoveled snow to work up our appetites. It was a good weekend.
After the usual holiday diet of chocolate, too much coffee and a lot of salami and cheese, it’s always a good idea to have something solid in mind for dinner. I can hardly imagine a more perfect dish for Christmas day than long-braised leg of lamb. Get it going after breakfast, peek at it occasionally throughout the day, pull it out in time for dinner. The only downside is that it takes up oven space that you might want for, say, baking pie, but the braise can easily be moved to the stovetop (which is what we ended up doing).
The lamb braises in a wine-tomato-stock mixture, but then you get to fill in the space around it with whatever veg you like. The original recipe recommends turnips, onions and carrots; we left out the onions and threw in parsnip and fennel. The long, slow braising makes the vegetables incredibly tender while still retaining their shape, so they can be scooped out of the broth and served alongside the meat.
Christmas is over and done with, and I would be back at work today if I weren’t home sick with a sinus headache and the sniffles. In my next post I’ll tell you about the six-hour braised lamb we made for Christmas dinner, but in the meantime here are some pictures from our weekend. Hope yours was fun as well!
The weather was too nasty to travel, so we had Christmas on our own. I got let out of work early on Christmas eve, and we had a nice early cocktail hour – Jon made Corpse Revivers and we finished off the sweet potato and beet chips from our last dinner party, with dangerously addictive spinach dip from the co-op deli.
We’re back from our Christmas trip! We spent it mostly holed up at my parents’ house, with a short expedition to Leavenworth when it stopped snowing for a few minutes. We cooked a lot. Here’s an abbreviated photo essay of the holiday:
First, for my mother’s birthday, there was chicken biryani (with a tofu option) and chocolate cake.