Over the Christmas holidays I had the best of intentions. I really did.
I meant to do many things. Really.
I meant to take lots of photos: of fun family times (of which we had many), of terrific new recipes (of which there were many), of sentimental moments like opening Christmas presents, of inspiring holiday decorations and picturesque sunsets.
I had big plans to spend some quality time with my much-neglected camera. But the truth is … I forgot.
But here are the few shots that I did capture. And truthfully, I completely forgot about these until today when I went to clean some other files from my camera. It was a delightful surprise to find them, but I had to shake my head at the haphazard visual trains of thought. I can see the start, but no finish. I was like a dog constantly distracted mid-mission by a passing squirrel.
Please tell me this happens to other people, too.
Here’s Jack working on Christmas dinner. This isn’t the best picture of him (sorry, sweetie) but really, it’s the only picture I took of a human, so here you go.
Here’s the center piece of Christmas dinner: Marinated beef tenderloin. I wish I could tell you what he marinated it in because it was fantastic, but in keeping with today’s theme … uh, I forget.
I do, however, remember the menu and boy, was it good. Jack really outdid himself. The only thing I did was sous-chef and make dessert. La la la la la … life was good!
• Wild mushroom soup
• Baby greens with pear, Gorgonzola and candied pecans
• Beef Tenderloin with a Morel mushroom red wine reduction
• Roasted balsamic-herb vegetables
• Roasted chili-lime broccolini
• Root vegetable mash
• Chocolate rum Bouche de Noel
• Pecan pumkin pie (thanks to Jen and Mark)
Good food + good wine + good friends + family = good time
This is the chocoloate-rum ganache that I made for the Bouche de Noel, which is a pretty traditional rolled “log” cake. I frost the log and shave dark chocolate all over it so that it looks like the bark of tree. It’s cute. I meant to photograph each of the steps, but I started licking ganache off my fingers and the next thing I knew I was done. Sorry.
To accompany the Bouche de Noel and the whole “look like a log” effect, I make meringue mushrooms, dust them with cocoa powder to make them look “dirty” and scatter the mushrooms around the cake. They look darling. And they make darn good cookies to pair up with each slice of cake. Here’s my shot of whipping egg whites for the meringue. Man, I love that copper bowl!
A little side note: Last year I made the Bouche with the meringue mushrooms while in Oklahoma visiting Jack’s parents for Christmas. Since they didn’t have a copper bowl I needed cream of tartar to make the meringue and wouldn’t you know, Jack’s mom just ran out of it. Jack’s poor dad braved a blizzard to go get me some cream of tartar so I could make these mushrooms. Now that’s a cool father-in-law!
And let’s not forget the munchies! In the kitchen we had the cheese board with nuts, charcuterie, marzipan and a little collection of tastings: port, dark rum, dessert wine and a lovely local Cabernet.
We always have cheese in the house. You can almost always find these two shown here: triple cream brie and Jack’s favorite, garlic Monterey jack. And you know, normally I’m not a huge fan of marzipan, but this dark chocolate covered marzipan that’s shown in the foreground there was a perfect partner to the cheese and wine. I’ll have to remember that pairing.
In the living room we had fruit and crudite (can’t get enough veggies) along with Jack’s famous hummus.
And here’s the table setting using our families’ heirlooms. There’s something special about eating off the china your parents had when you were a little kid—china that you spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas washing and drying by hand—or using grandma’s silverware or mom and dad’s gorgeous silver goblets collected from Spain. In a society that’s based upon a disposable paradigm there’s something spiritual about the passing and usage of heirlooms from one generation to the next. It’s like passing along the communal memories of forty plus years of family holiday dinners and special occasions.
We feel pretty blessed.
I’m sorry to say that this random haphazard collection of photos is all I have to represent the entire Christmas holiday, but let me assure you that it was lovely.
I’ll endeavor to do better next year. Maybe I’ll actually get in pictures of human beings, too.