While I didn't do a whole lot of decorating, celebrating, shopping or wrapping, I find myself exhausted and desperately in need of some rest anyway. How was your holiday? The weather was too treacherous to drive up north to see Ben's family on Christmas Eve, so we stayed home, dined on a fine, exotic meal from McDonalds (everyone, and I mean everyone was closed by 6:00 around here), watched A Christmas Story and passed out. We're a young, fun and adventurous couple, let me tell you!
My grandfather was released from the hospital on Christmas Eve, so on Christmas Day we focused on keeping him comfortable and busy. He's starting to get sick of being, uhh, sick and staying still isn't his strongsuit. So we all took turns visiting him, bouncing back and forth between our own kitchens and my grandparents' kitchen. This year was particularly strange for all of us. We normally pack the entire family, both immediate and extended, into my parents' house and spend the Christmas holiday together. With my grandfather unable to leave his own home, and my sister trying out new traditions with her little family, and the rest of us who were just too exhausted to give a damn this year, we vowed to go our separate ways and just do our own thing this year. And it wasn't so bad. I felt a small amount of remorse about the breaking of traditions that have been in place since I was a kid, but hey, what can you do?
At first I found the task of cooking Christmas dinner for myself, Sandy and Ben to be a bit daunting. I mean, this isn't Thursday night dinner. This is a Christmas meal, and since we weren't celebrating with family, I wanted to make it special for us. I tend to stay away from the cooking of meat in general because I panic and either overcook or undercook. I leave the meat job up to Ben or Mike because they always rock the grill. This time, though, I looked to Ina for inspiration, and decided to stomp on my fears and cook my very first chicken. So, I went with this recipe and made what was the most delicious, tender and juicy bird I've ever eaten in my entire life. Wow, talk about amazing. And easy, too! I love that you just cut the lemons into quarters and halve the garlic heads and just stuff everything inside of the bird (still can't figure out that weird wing folding thing she does). For the sides, I made garlic mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus with thyme and garlic, and roasted plum tomatoes with thyme and balsamic vinegar. The potatoes and asparagus are just dishes I whip up on a whim, but you can find the tomato recipe here or in Ina's new cookbook. Man, I know I've said it a million times before, but that woman is amazing. She really saved me this year.
So, we chowed down and cleaned up and I proceeded to make another bread pudding because we had friends coming over for dessert. I followed the same recipe as last time, only I caramelized some Granny Smith apples with butter, white and brown sugar, fresh nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, and served the apples over the pudding. If you tried this recipe after I posted it a while back, you must try it again, but add the apples this time around. And be sure to use Granny Smith apples because that extra tartness helps to cut the sweetness out of the dessert. Amazing.
As for Santa, he didn't forget us this year just because we were all grinchy and stuff. I got a vintage rotary phone that I'm terribly in love with. I've wanted one for ages and found one on Etsy that I loved. Santa must know how to check everyone's favorites on Etsy because that very same phone somehow wound up on my doorstep. And Ben, well, Ben got his gigantic television a few weeks ago, but Santa remembered that comic book Ben loved as a kid...the one his stepfather threw away on him. And a copy of that comic book magically popped up in the Eggleston residence, much to Ben's surprise.
Overall it was a great Christmas. I recall saying that last night as I was drying dishes for the umpteen-millionth time. Even though it was different, it was still nice. I got my wish when my grandfather came home, and it was nice to spend the day in my own home. Next year, though, back to the old plan.
Hope all of you had a wonderful day, and I hope you're all home relaxing, surrounded by the ones you love.