It will be several more days before the Musical Millennial can collect his stocking stuffers, because he’s on a New Year’s trip to the Northeast. Ethical question: is it ok for me to dip into the goodies (I like spicy stuff!) since he left them?
Sounds good to me, but also a little worrisome: are we behind the 8-ball at Glover Gardens because our pomegranate tree didn’t produce any edible fruit this year??? It was a sorry excuse for a fruit-bearing tree. Maybe next year…
Back to the topic at hand…I’ve always been interested in other folks’ New Year’s food traditions, and grew up with some pretty strong ones. There was a firm protocol in our family: blacked-eyed peas on New Year’s Day were a must for good luck. I have to confess: I don’t really like them and have sometimes just tossed a few into my mouth like aspirin and washed them down with champagne. (I’m not sorry!!!) This may sound ridiculous, but I’ll have a vague, uneasy feeling that things won’t go well throughout the year if I skip the black-eyeds on New Year’s. It’s a thing. In fact, my Dad used to call me every New Year’s to ask if I’d had mine… I miss that.
If you read the article above from Food52, you’ll note that I’m not the only one who’s superstitious about luck and New Year’s culinary choices; almost all of the traditional foods from around the world are associated with good fortune.
Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s is very southern (my Dad was from Sweetwater, TX, so we came by it naturally), and an accompaniment is often cornbread. Now cornbread, I can handle, especially if it’s Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, which I “borrowed” from a friend and posted here last year. So yummy! And in addition to being a traditional “good luck” food, its meaty center makes it a great main dish for a hearty New Year’s brunch (whether or not you have a ‘morning after’ thing going on). Check out the recipe here if you’re looking for an easy winner for New Year’s Day. (And thanks again, Mary!)
Happy New Year! What are your culinary traditions for ringing out the old year and ringing in the new?
Glover Gardens Christmas festivities over the holidays have kept my blogging time to less than zero. That’s fine with me because we had a great time with friends and family, and I didn’t want to spend a moment of it on the computer. Maybe next year I’ll be more organized and set up a bunch of posts ahead of time…maybe. For 2018, this one post is a great big a roundup of our holiday week.
There was food! The Girl Who is Always Hungry (our daughter-in-law, married to The Best Eater) brought us 5.5 lbs. of homemade cookies. Can you believe it? That’s her below snapping pics of the bounty she provided.
The cookie-making and decorating effort took The Girl Who is Always Hungry a whole weekend in mid-December and the resulting sweet treasures made many folks happy. Here’s a quick video she took during the process that shows the extent of her holiday baking adventures.
There was cooking at Glover Gardens, too, although not much of it was photographed. A huge victory for me was finally getting precise on the family dressing recipe that evolved over years and years (and I do mean years and years) in my family. Folks, it is HARD to precisely document a three-generation family recipe! There’s a back story, but it will have to wait until the 2019 holiday season when I post the recipe. I’m eternally grateful to my Sister-in-Love for helping me out with the recipe documentation, tasting and amount-deciding. That’s her below tearing up the stale bread for the dressing.
Our first big night together for the 2018 Christmas Extravaganza included a baked potato bar with all the regular toppings plus The Grill-Meister’s smoked chicken and pulled pork made by the Musical Millennial in a crock pot. There aren’t any pictures except for the deboning of the smoked chicken. It’s a messy job!
We had multiple multi-generational events, including an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest. While the contestants ranged from 19 to early 70s, the panel of judges included two in their late 80s. Oh, what fun it was.
The Grill-Meister brought home the first-place Ugly Christmas Sweater prize! I promise, the judging was impartial, no votes were not counted, and I wasn’t on the election committee! That’s The Grill-Meister below on the right posing in his award-winning Christmas tree sweater/costume with the 2nd place winner, His Grinchiness.
The winners posed for photos with their adoring spouses.
Millennials had loads of fun taking pics.
All in all, an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest is a beautiful thing. And fun!!!
Traditional Christmas Eve happenings were a plethora of appetizers and our big stocking reveal, hosted by the Grill-Meister’s parents, transplants from Washington State who now live just 3 minutes away. Mom-in-law is actually from Germany, which influences their Christmas Eve menu. There is always a variety of imported meats and cheeses and potato salad, which I learned was a German / Eastern European thing.
Christmas Day brought a gaggle of gifts, more cooking and more eating.
Food-wise, here was a very safely-done, very successfully-done deep-fried turkey. The method is great, the turkey was moist, and next year’s holiday posts will tell you EXACTLY how The Grill-Meister and The Best Eater did it.
There was also the ubiquitous green bean casserole, made by my niece. I’m a self-admitted food snob and won’t make something from the back of a can, although not so much of a snob that I didn’t eat any! She did a great job; I actually liked it. The green bean-to-goo ratio was higher than the standard recipe calls for, and it made a difference.
There was a lot more food that we didn’t photograph, but my niece got a great shot of her meal. And yes, if you’re wondering, I served Christmas dinner on paper plates – and I’m not sorry! They were festive red and large, and looked great alongside my grandmother’s silver cutlery. The peppermint stick place cards were made by my Aunt-Mom and me just a day after she got out of the hospital after abdominal surgery. She’s a quick healer and a whiz with a glue gun.
All through the week, at these events and others, the biggest gift was love, so much love; many, many special moments and connections between two or more of us…some shared and some private, some in remembrance of those whose stockings will never hang over the mantel again, some in joyful gratitude that we have each other right now.
Wishing you all the continued happiness of the season as we march toward the new year, the Gang from Glover Gardens.
Road trip time! Halfway between Glover Gardens and Little House in the Rockies lies the west Texas town of Amarillo. I’ve never done much there but sleep during our overnight stops, but its holiday vibe charmed me from my hotel window on Thursday night, and again in a different way on Friday morning. It was haiku-worthy.
at night all sparkly Amarillo by morning was muted by snow
London’s Hyde Park has multiple personalities, and that’s a good thing.
During the holidays, there’s the excited frenzy of families enjoying Winter Wonderland. It is all that if you’re into that kind of thing – and lots of folks are, let me tell you. Hordes. Masses. Gleeful sticky-faced children clamoring for that next ride on the Ferris wheel or another hot chocolate, serious shoppers searching for treasures at the Christmas Market, ice skaters at every skill level gliding around and around the rink. It’s an experience.
But Hyde Park is a big, big place. If neon, joyful shrieks of small children and hot dog vendors aren’t your thing, you can ease on over to the other side of the Serpentine and take a quiet walk along its banks.
That’s what I did.
That’s what the waterfowl did, too.
There were others, but only a few.
It was lovely.
Those Brits are smart, with their multiple-personality parks. There’s something for everyone, even the birds.
This photo I took in London last week reminds me of the lyrics of Silver Bells. I could feel the Christmas classic’s rhythm in the busy sidewalks, hustle and bustle, and general air of festivity and expectation as folks hurried on their way in the December dusk of this great city.
Silver Bells, by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Silver bells, silver bells It’s Christmas time in the city Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling) hear them ring (ting-a-ling) Soon it will be Christmas day
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks Dressed in holiday style In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas Children laughing, people passing Meeting smile after smile And on every street corner you hear
Silver bells, (silver bells) silver bells (silver bells) It’s Christmas time in the city Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling) Hear them ring, (hear them ring) Soon it will be Christmas day
Strings of street lights, even stoplights Blinkin’ bright red and green As the shoppers rush home with their treasures Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch This is Santa’s big day And above all this bustle you hear
And in memory of my Dad, who would probably be listening to this right now while drinking his coffee and reading the paper if he were still with us, here’s the iconic recording of that ubiquitous holiday song by Bing Crosby. Perhaps Dad and Bing are harmonizing on it in heaven.
London during the holidays is teaming with people admiring how it glitters and glimmers with over-the-top decorations. Here are a couple of photos I snapped from the top of one of those iconic double-decker buses as it passed through Regent and Oxford streets.
In stark contrast, here’s a little tree that was all by itself in a long, lonely hallway between terminals at Heathrow Airport.
We like the spatchcock method for turkey these days. Spatchcocked turkey is everything you want in a turkey: moist on the inside, with crispy, savory, mahogany skin on the outside. Check out our experiences with it here: Spatchcocked Turkey. Say What?
We’re in the Christmas mood here at Glover Gardens, and some of my colleagues have helped us get that way…
There was a hot chocolate bar at our work party last week, and my colleague who organized the party urged me to get there early and take pictures “for the blog”. Sweet!
The bar was a great idea and we may do something similar here on the 28th when we have our family Christmas. The hot chocolate was in a big crock pot, and there were all kinds of goodies to drizzle, dollop or adorn the sweet, steaming goodness. (Not pictured – whipped cream!)
Beyond enjoying a meal and the hot chocolate together, our little work party during lunch one day last week was really fun! Calling it a “wamily” (work family), the crackerjack team of party planners had organized activities that made the event a wonderful bonding experience. Our recreation during the celebration included decorating ornaments, a hilarious set of contests (I actually won the one in which you have one minute to draw a snowman on a paper plate on top of your head because the judge was impressed that I wrote “snowman” in cursive legibly) and playing board games together in small groups. One of my colleagues brought a new game, Codenames, and we were all instantly enamored. I ordered one right away for Glover Gardens, and Santa might have given a couple as gifts (shhhhhh!).
Another colleague, knowing how we feel about jazz here at Glover Gardens, sent a text to me one evening with a link to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Big Band Holidays performance (led by Wynton Marsalis) on YouTube suggesting that my family would enjoy it. Love it!
This music will definitely put you in the Christmas mood.