Christmas Dinner

My Christmas dinner for my family (three days cooking):

Appetizers:

– Creamy crab salad spread
– Wild mushroom and goat cheese spread
– Crackers
– Sliced pears

Drinks:

– Sparkling fruit drinks
– Merlot and Pinos Grigio
– Tea and coffee

Dinner:

– Pork tenderloin with cranberry Dijon sauce
– Green beans and sweet onions in a light vinaigrette
– Yukon gold mashed potato gratin

Dessert:
(having many different cookies with ice cream is a family Christmas tradition)

– Prize cookies (shortbread crust, date filling, citrus icing)
– Macadamia butter cranberry cookies
– Mexican chocolate cookies (bittersweet chocolate with cinnamon and chipotle)
– Lime-mint shortbread
– Ice cream

Yum! Good thing it can almost all be done in advance :)

Christmas Eve Headlines

Here’s an interesting juxtaposition of front page Christmas Eve headlines from the Tacoma News Tribune:

– Faith and tradition burn bright
– Huge wave of credit card debt
– 10 Steps to eggnog nirvana

Not sure they meant that second one to get in there and spoil the Christmas pudding, but I think it’s an interesting commentary…

St. Patty’s anti-green

Wow – I have been so busy I feel cut off from my own blog – working until midnight or 1am each night, trying to finish an editing project. It’s done now, and I am just starting to relax – getting all the little things done that have been left to languish for two weeks – like grocery shopping (up next – after the blog. Does that say something about my priorities??). Times like this I feel like I’m waking up, looking around, only to realize something that everybody has already noticed but me. This time it’s St. Patrick’s Day.

Now truthfully (and hopefully I won’t offend anyone here – but hey, it IS a blog), I hate St. Patrick’s Day. It seems like one of the worst examples of American commercialism, and it seems to have no purpose to start with. I mean, why celebrate one saint out of all of them? And why celebrate some Irish tradition? We don’t have days for Chinese, Russian, Native American, Norwegian, or Japanese culture, all of which are far more integral to Seattle’s history than the Irish. OK – maybe it’s important in some East Coast cities – but so were/are the Italians, Poles, Jews, etc. right? What gives with the Irish?

How anyone can stand the little green leprechauns, clovers, hats and silly greeting cards is beyond me. And how many times can you get asked why you’re not wearing something green before you want to brain someone? So in the spirit of anti-Irish anti-commercialism, today’s blog is dedicated to all things green that are NOT Irish.

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First, let’s start with a tour of the garden. Here are my roses which are leafing out against my express orders ;) since I have not even had time to prune them!!

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A lovely red currant against the moss-covered stump…

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A salmonberry, which does not even have its leaves, but which is already trying to entice a hummingbird :)

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The Indian Plum behind the salmonberry…

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The pond, peeking out behind the white flowering currant – yes, the pond is a bit greener than it should be… time to do some yardwork!

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Moving to the inside of the house, a few green things that give me comfort… the teapot on the stove which I just like the look of, even if I don’t drink tea all that often

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The comfy couch which the cat loves and I like to snooze in, with my lovely green chenille blankie :)

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OK, I cheated a little on this one :) The candle does smell wonderful, kind of a fresh linen/leafy scent. But the cat makes me happy, and she’s definitely not green! Closest thing to a leprechaun around here, but far, far improved :)

My unromantic day

rose.JPGFor all of us without sweethearts this year, I’ll post about my unromantic day :D Hmm… first my bowl of Cheerios – looking out onto the neighbor’s back yard in which they just decided to cut down all their trees. Yesterday the chainsaws and chippers were roaring and that seemed like the perfect time to do my taxes – can’t get any more unromantic than that! I got creamed this year – though it would have been worse without a few new deductions – like the sales tax deduction for those of us without state income tax, and the new ability to deduct the cost of health insurance if you’re self-employed. Saved my bacon, though I still took a beating.

Then I got a headache. Now if that isn’t anti-Valentine’s I don’t know what is ;) I was quietly resting with my cat, when the electricians arrived. I have a light which if turned on, blows the breaker for that room. And a few others that have been problematic since the last windstorm. Turns out I have $600 in electrical repairs to light fixtures to do, and need a $400 surge protector for the house to keep this from happening again. Ah, the joys of homeownership.

The pouring rain seemed like a good backdrop for this activity. Especially since i had worried that somehow water was getting in and causing this problem – when actually it was heat damage to the fixtures – either from the previous owners putting in lightbulbs with too high wattage or from electrical damage during the storms. Considering how blackened and exposed the wiring was, I was lucky I didn’t have a fire =/ Meanwhile I was answering an inquiry from a contractor I work for about proof of insurance to keep those work orders coming in and pay all these bills! Keeping the faxes and e-mails going in between the electricians shutting down the breakers was entertaining.

Somewhat recovered from the headache, I sat down to another chore in the afternoon – preparing a proposal to get on the mediation roster for Oregon (the only way to get mediation contracts with all the state agencies). Filled out a long and detailed request for qualifications, which required me to look up resumes, roster info, call past employers, etc. When finished, found that they wanted the printed out application AND an electronic copy – but could I send it on e-mail? Nooo… it had to be on a CD or floppy disk :D Seems a bit archaic. Turns out neither of the CD-ROM drives I have are writable… now what? Searched around in my closet for an old game with a 3.5 in floppy disk, erased the stuff on it, and copied my proposal onto it :D A geeky solution, but it got the job done. Off to the mailing place in the rain and sent that off in time for the deadline.

Are we having fun yet? Oh, yes, grocery shopping. OK – do that in the rain. Too tired to make dinner, eat rice cakes and fruit. Now it’s time for just a little Valentine’s remembrance – called up my other single friends who were home alone tonight and left them Valentines voice-mails :) Or maybe they’re not home alone since they didn’t pick up! Guess it’s just me and my cat. ;)

That’s OK – I think I’ll curl up on the couch and watch a movie. Sooner or later someone will call me back…

Strange week…

The world does move in mysterious ways, and it’s been a long, strange week. Christmas Eve I got a sore throat, and a cold coming on. I was still very happy to be able to join in the family celebrations and it’s the first time I can remember being happy that I just had a cold – as last year I had pneumonia and couldn’t go at all (also missed Thanksgiving) because we couldn’t afford to expose my grandparents.

Later in the week I had to cancel several social engagements as I was still too sick to go – including a big party Friday night that I was really looking forward to. Instead, I was hanging around watching a movie, when I got a call from a friend saying that he and his ex-wife were having a dispute and she was coming to pick up his daughter. I offered to do an emergency mediation, and we started at 9pm and went until 3am – a second session will be starting later today.

So much for resting :) but if I hadn’t had this cold I wouldn’t have been available for this far more important function. I still don’t know how it will affect the rest of the week – New Year’s is my birthday but somehow it doesn’t really seem to matter that much. If I end up sleeping off the events of the weekend that will be OK too. It’s all just life, in its endless journey.

Thanksgiving Dinner!

beans.jpg Well, there is a lot going on in my life to write about – but today it’s all about cooking! I’ve got groceries to buy, veggies to trim and desserts to make, biscuits to bake and roast to stuff, plus all kinds of little details to work out :) Here’s the menu:

Buttermilk-Parmesan Biscuits with Sour Cream-Chive Whipped Butter
Spinach and Baby Greens Salad with Honey-Mustard Balsamic Vinaigrette
Green Beans with Walnuts and Nutmeg
Roasted Root Vegetables with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Pork Roast with Apple, Sage, and Cranberry Stuffing
Upside-Down Pear Spice Cake
Cranberry Cheesecake

Still to figure out – appetizers and drinks. I told my family this year they weren’t getting anything traditional :) I’ve done that for years and years and it’s time for something new. Almost all of these recipes come from Cooking Light (so are a lot healthier than you might imagine) and many are made with the organic ingredients I’ve been getting from my farm share, so I’m looking forward to a change. Of course I’ve modified the recipes to my own taste, being an inveterate kitchen tinkerer. Should be fun!

I’m thankful for my friends and family, my new kitty (tentatively named Sophie), health of body and mind, nature and natural foods, and the pleasures of life. I hope life is wonderful for all of you and you’re enjoying your holiday with those that matter most.