One Stocking Left Behind

One stocking was left behind...

It’s time to put away Christmas.

But one stocking was left behind.

It was chock-full of goodies!

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?

Or would it be bad Santa-karma?

What do you think?

© 2019 Glover Gardens

New Year’s Food Traditions From Around the World and a Confession about Black-Eyed Peas

PHOTO BY MARK WEINBERG from Food52 article

In Turkey, some smash pomegranates in the doorways of their homes. As the tradition goes, the number of seeds that fly out predict how much good fortune you’ll have in the coming year.”

By Ella Quitner, in her article 10 New Year’s Food Traditions From Around the World published today by Food52

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.

Photo from Foodzesty blog; I might like black-eyed peas better if I was eating them in a soup like this one that has “a hint of orange juice”

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.

In Spain, the tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight to get good luck for each of the coming months…does wine count?

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!)

Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread might go really, really well with that black-eyed pea soup from the Foodzesty blog…maybe with a side of grapes

Happy New Year! What are your culinary traditions for ringing out the old year and ringing in the new?

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Glover Gardens Christmas 2018 Roundup

Toy soldiers guard Glover Gardens on the outside, while nutcrackers stand watch on the inside (in the window)

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.

So many cookies, so little time!

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.

It took all of the her available counter space for The Girl Who is Always Hungry to accomplish her Cookie Extravaganza 2018

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.

My Sister-in-Love was religious about making me document the precise amounts, and turned out to be a great recipe tester, too

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 call this photo – a great piece of art – Chicken Hands

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.

Second and first place, from left to right. There are no words.

The winners posed for photos with their adoring spouses.

All contestants – not much in the way of ugliness!

Millennials had loads of fun taking pics.

All in all, an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest is a beautiful thing. And fun!!!

A crazy good time with “ugly” sweaters

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.

The stockings before they were transported for Christmas Eve

Christmas Day brought a gaggle of gifts, more cooking and more eating.

A big pile of gifts for a baker’s dozen of peeps

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.

My niece who made the green bean casserole snapped a pic

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.

Left to right: The Musical Millennial, me, The Grill-Meister, The Best Eater and The Girl Who is Always Hungry

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Haiku: Amarillo by Night and Morning

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

From our hotel window, it looked like downtown Amarillo was ready for a party
Or maybe the party was over, but the lights were still on
But in the morning, from the same hotel window, the same view had a different vibe altogether in the snowy daylight; everything is muted

Same view, different vibe altogether.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

London’s Jekyll and Hyde Park

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.

Photo from Visit London

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.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Silver Bells Reminiscing: “It’s Christmas Time in the City”

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.

Shoppers rush home with their treasures near Hyde Park's Marble Arch and Marble Arch Station.
Shoppers rush home with their treasures near Marble Arch station at Hyde Park.

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

Silver bells…

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.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Deck the Hall at Heathrow

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.

That’s cool.

In stark contrast, here’s a little tree that was all by itself in a long, lonely hallway between terminals at Heathrow Airport.

A Charlie Brown tree in a hallway at Heathrow is full of holiday spirit and pluck.
A Charlie Brown tree at Heathrow

That’s cool, too. The hall was decked.

Someone has a sense of humor.

That’s really cool.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Thanksgiving Roundup

Thanksgiving-themed posts and recipes are getting lots of traffic here in Glover Gardens this week, so I thought I’d make it easy and round a few of them up.

Best Supporting Actors

It’s really all about the sides at the Thanksgiving table, right? I mean, when else do you get the harvest bounty of all those gorgeous fall vegetables all dressed up in their holiday best?

Our family’s approach to corn is here: Best Creamed Corn Ever – Handed-Down and Upgraded Scratch Recipe from My Dad and Grandmother. This creamed corn is a rich, creamy dish that makes you nostalgic for the old days when life was simpler, people were kinder and you could borrow an egg from your neighbor, even if you never experienced any “old days” in that way.

Another favorite with corn takes a spicy, southwestern turn: Food Magazine Treasures: Serrano Ham and Corn Pudding

The Grill-Meister is a reluctant vegetable-eater, but even he will dig into these Brussels sprouts (it’s the Bacon Effect): Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam.  Almost blackened, these sprouts are spicy-sweet-tart-crunchy-soft yumminess and perfect for the holiday table.

A new addition to the repertoire is Sweet Potato Stacks in Browned Butter with Sage .

Gotta Have Yeast Rolls

My grandmother “Mema” fed us in classic grandmotherly style: something was always just out of the oven, just for you. Her legendary yeast roll recipe was a star at every Thanksgiving, and is captured in We Call Them “Mema Rolls,” She Called Them “Refrigerator Rolls” – Call My Grandmother’s Delicious Yeast Rolls Anything You Want, but Don’t Call Me Late for Dinner if You’re Serving Them.

Let’s Talk Turkey

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 also recommend Alton Brown’s Deep Fried Turkey, if you are ready for a turkey adventure.

The Sweet Ending

This pie is a wonderful mix of textures – the crunch of the toasted pecans with their caramel glaze and sea salt garnish balances perfectly with the soft, fudge-like filling. Find it here at Food Magazine Treasures: Salted-Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie.

But First, Start the Day Right

We have a family tradition of starting our Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings with a humble little breakfast: Sweet Potato Biscuits: Family History, Love on a Plate.

A Co-Created Centerpiece

A co-created centerpiece brings the family together in a meaningful discussion of what we’re thankful for; see how easy and fun it is at Thankful for…Bay Leaves and Family .

That’s All for Now

There’s more to share from our Thanksgiving repertoire, but those recipes aren’t documented yet. Maybe next year!

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Dad is gone…and still our hearts are full

the chair by the fire is empty
Dad won’t be here to read Luke 2
we feel his loss deeply
and still our hearts are full

the stocking for Dad is empty
he won’t be bringing the shrimp dip
everything’s different without him
and still our hearts are full

they’re full because God loves us
they’re full because He lived
they’re full because Dad’s healed now
they’re full because Christmas is

Dad is gone…and still our hearts are full

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Manger scene ornament hand-painted by my aunt

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Last year’s stockings, the last outing for Dad’s

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens

 

 

In the Christmas Mood! Holiday Tips from Colleagues include a Hot Chocolate Bar, a Board Game and Christmas Jazz

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!

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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!).

codenames-01

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.

Thanks to my colleagues for the great tips!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens