Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category
Posted in Family and friends, Holidays, tagged Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents, gifts, Jo March, Little Women, Pfaltzgraf Christmas Heritage plates, the meaning of Christmas on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 | 22 Comments »
Posted in Family and friends, Food, health issues, Holidays, tagged Cataract surgery, Francesca's Fiore restaurant in Forest Park, Francesca's restaurants, Simple Gifts on Sunday, December 14, 2014 | 28 Comments »
Tom’s one week post-op eye appointment brought good news; the eye is healing well, better than expected, actually, and especially considering all he and his eye have endured. With a few less eye drops to be administered daily, we remarked on how nice it was to be given 30 minutes back in our days. We both said “Merry Christmas” for it was a gift, indeed, and felt just a wee bit of weight lifting from our shoulders.
As I backed the car from its parking nest, I mentioned that it was closing in on the noon hour and wondered aloud if Tom would like to have a nice lunch to celebrate the good news at Francesca’s in Forest Park?”. Cleaning out my wallet a little earlier, I came across a gift card I had been given as a thank you for someone I helped out a few winters ago. The Francesca restaurants are a delicious chain of Italian restaurants across the area and Francesca’s Fiore in Forest Park was on our way home.
As we looked for a parking place along the busy, city avenue, it seemed the only option was a paid city lot. It’s hard to haggle over such things when lunch has already been paid, so, into the lot I turned, parked the ever faithful mocha VW with latte interior (I’m going to miss this caffeinated car some day). Tom, with those blackened glasses one needs to wear after cataract surgery, and I looked about to pay. Perplexed, we wandered a bit when Tom of the afore-mentioned glasses and dilated eyes, said “it’s free“. There was the payment post, all wrapped up like a present, informing whomever that Forest Park was lifting their parking fees during the month of December. As we walked, we saw meters up and down the street with their meter mouths all taped up, on a coin diet for the season, and our steps were just a bit lighter at this gesture – a gift of free parking. Quite a nice municipal gift, don’t you agree?
We had such a delightful lunch, chatting and chewing and caressing the moments of bliss on a cold but sunny afternoon with good news, good will, and good food the generous gifts of the day, all reminding me that gifts aren’t always those wrapped up in pretty paper with bows. They are the simple gifts of life. My wish is that you find one of them today.
“As man thinketh, so he is.”
Nothing much happens unless you believe in it, and believing there is hope for the world is a way to move toward it. “
Posted in brittle, health issues, Holidays, tagged Cataract surgery, dealing with Type I Diabetes, Epiretinal peel, feelings of hope, hope, hopefulness, Type I Diabetes, vitrectomy on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 | 20 Comments »
We have, thus far, been spared any real accumulation snow here on the Cutoff and the sun is out today, smiling down upon us as we finish the last morsels of Thanksgiving (today it is turkey vegetable soup). The last of fall is being swept under the carpets and the beginning of Christmas is starting to show.
I know some of you put up Christmas in one, fell swoop and your lights are already brightly shining. For some, it may take a while; perhaps just a sprig of green to honor the changing season. For my friends “down under”, summer has arrived, and for many I love, Hanukkah with its glowing candles will soon be here. Perhaps you do not celebrate the holidays or holy days of December, but, I think we can all embrace something in the change of the season, like a toasty fire in the hearth or a walk on the beach.
Here on the Cutoff, Christmas comes slowly, with candles aglow during our suppers of Advent and a theme of hope taking up residence. Trinkets and books have begun their appearance, coming out of boxes and drawers, while songs of good cheer are embracing our ears. A Black Forest spruce magically appeared and is hugging the barn; a little something my Antler Man picked up this weekend and will bring in mid-month. He is being evasive about how tall it really is. The Christmas Room, thus christened by Kezzie two summers past, and magically festooned last November, will eventually host a chorus of angels and our woodland tree will alter the inner landscape of our lives, enveloping us in a sanctuary of hope.
We were filled with much hope last December, as Tom healed from eye surgery, which went well, but whose results were not as good as we had hoped for. Still-in-all, he has been able to resume work and all activities, and does so with strong determination and abiding faith. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of a vitrectomy, epiretinal peel, and all the steroidal shots he has endured can lead to a cataract forming, which is just the case with Tom. The cataract has developed quickly and its aggressiveness is causing increased macular edema. While cataract surgery has become a common procedure these days, it is a bit more complicated for those with Type I Diabetes. Such is the case with my Tom. So, dear friends, I find myself, once again, petitioning for your good thoughts and prayers as Tom undergoes cataract surgery in the wee hours of Wednesday and my Antler Man and I spend our time in that place we have often found sheltering: hope.
Posted in Family and friends, Food, Holidays, tagged Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Cranberry relish, Green Beans and Shallots, meals with family, Thanksgiving recipes on Friday, November 28, 2014 | 20 Comments »
I’m sitting here, basking in the post-Thanksgiving glow, which is almost as golden as Thanksgiving itself. Who needs Black Friday?! Most of the remains of the day are put away, though glasses that held wine and Grandma’s Coronation silver-plate still need to be put in their designated drawers and cabinets. That can wait, for I wanted to share this most excellent, someday heirloom, photo of my oldest grandnephew, Scott, who will turn 11 on my 65th birthday, next week. Here he is, cheerfully demonstrating that while he will never quite catch up to me in age, he has already done so in height. Way-to-go, Scott!
Isn’t life grand?
Our turkey was golden, and the fresh cranberry relish that perfect combination of sweet and tart. Niece Heather’s roasted potatoes were simply sublime. Nephew Andrew gave our blessing, then plates were passed and stories flowed, Jennifer and Jason soon joined us, slipping in from another family engagement, and all felt right in this day of gratitude.
Marilyn asked if I would share a recipe, and so, I thought I would. The cranberry relish is documented here, and has been a mainstay in our menu for three decades. My turkey, well, my turkey is usually quite delicious, but, no special ingredients or methods, I just season and roast. If a few drops of white wine are around, it usually finds itself in the gravy.
This year, I decided to make Ina Garten’s Green Beans and Shallots for our vegetable and for its color. Ina never disappoints, and she doesn’t with this easy recipe. As you may know, I’m an Ina Garten groupie with Barefoot Contessa cookbooks lined up like the kitchen guard (though there is just enough room for her latest book, in case anyone is pondering pleasing me for my afore-mentioned birthday). It was actually our Jennifer who first made this dish, however, and it is now a favorite. I did use the French string beans, as they rose to my attention at the market, but, I’ve used regular as well and they work just fine. I did the parboiling and set aside earlier in the day, so, just needed to store up with the shallots just before we sat down. I did not salt the water, but, did salt the pan for the shallots – and I parboiled longer that 1 1/2 minutes.
Green Beans and Shallots
1 pound French string beans (haricots verts), ends removed (can use regular string beans)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
3 large shallots, large-diced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.
Heat the butter and oil in a very large sauté pan (12-inch diameter) or large pot and sauté the shallots on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain the string beans and add to the shallots with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, tossing well. Heat only until the beans are hot.
(from the Barefoot Contessa Family Style)