Monday, December 28, 2009

Run, Run, Rudolph

A day or so after our Christmas Cocktail party I was back in the kitchen prepping Christmas Eve dinner.  Interesting, I wasn’t stressed nor exhausted; more excited to be creating a Christmas at home.  Around 4:00 dessert, potatoes, soup, and dressing were completely prepped and the brined, seasoned, and stuffed turkey went into the oven under a blanket of jalapeno and paprika butter. Two more place settings were added to the table for some stranded travelers, and I sat down to a glass of champagne.  Enter boom and darkness. 

A heavy wind blew out a transformer and left half of my block without power.  My house included.  Panicked, I made a call to Ava and Poe; they will now be known as Joseph and Mary.  From their suite at the Ritz Carlton they sent to us a savior; use of their oven and house on the cold Christmas Eve.  With the contents of our fridge in coolers, and a 20 pound turkey in a roasting pan, we set up shop at the new location.  About thirty minutes later the good news arrived; power would be restored within the hour.   The downside to this solution was the loss of power at Mary and Joseph’s house  as the transformer was repaired. As the guests arrived and gathered in the dark foyer of a strange house conversation didn’t move much further than ‘someday we’ll look back on this and laugh.’

With the power back on, and the wine bottles open, we eventually had the party moved back to our own house.  Guests sipped wine and butternut squash soup and patiently awaited the traveling turkey’s completion. The entire meal was very well received with special notes to the jalapeno and paprika gravy.  With the Brit’s offering sticky toffee pudding, few people partook in Cranberry Tart; they didn’t miss much as it turned out extremely sweet. About an hour later with the kids in bed, and my husband dutifully washing dishes, I arranged presents under the tree with a friend over a bottle of Pinot Grigio.  Around midnight, with the new treasures grandly displayed I retired upstairs and called the night a success.  It was fun and authentic; it felt like a family Christmas. 

Party #18 began around noon the following day as I threw together our macaroni and cheese.  This dish was perfect for an afternoon at home; grate some cheese, stir together some milk, flour, and spices, and you’re ready for goodness.  Far from a traditional Christmas dinner, it was warm and tasty comfort food which had its place at our house this holiday.   As relatives made their way to our house, a heaping bowl of macaroni was well received.  

After a day of watching the kids play, some time on the couch, and a mimosa or two it was time to create dinner.  Our finger food from leftovers came together without too much fuss, and were enjoyed by our dwindling guest list.  The egg-rolls were preferred over the stuffed mushrooms, in fact, combined with the salad, they were substantial on their own.  My apples and caramel may have been clever, however, they were merely nibbled as the family devoured leftover sticky toffee pudding. 
Late Christmas Day, the blur of the two days left a peaceful feeling of accomplishment.  Fast forward a few days, and the exhaustion has fully set in and with a bit of burnout.  Wake me for New Year’s.   

Cooking Notes:
This was my second attempt at a cornbread dressing (my first being Party # 11 with the bacon jalapeno dressing) Though it was popular among my Guests, I think both lacked a depth of flavor.  Anyone have a not so secret ingredient to share?

The Party in Numbers:
Parties Completed: 18
Weeks before Deadline: 36
Bottles of Wine consumed: 5.5 
Justified Purchases: tart pan

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