Several years ago I decided that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday--no gifts, all food!--but this year Christmas gave Thanksgiving a run for its money. We spent the week in Washington, my parents' home full of hugs and kids and cookies. Most importantly, I finally got to meet my new niece, Eleanor. She's adorable and feisty as her red hair. She and her parents are back off to England in a matter of days, but we hope they will be living this side of the pond again--as soon as her Papa can land himself a paying position in ye olde ivory tower.
In addition to the beautiful baby, the holidays were filled with family and food. Christmas morning provided us the chance to try out a new (for us) Barefoot Contessa recipe: cranberry scones. Like many Ina Garten favorites, this one includes three sticks of butter, but I do believe that all butter is forgiven on Christmas. Here's a peek at the final product, picture courtesy of the fabulous Sandra Ward. The full recipe can be found at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cranberry-orange-scones-recipe/index.html.
The following 48 hours consisted of a sort of non-stop cook-a-thon. There were 12 of us in the house, so my mom figured we'd do all the cooking up front and then coast on leftovers for the rest of the week. This turned out to be a pretty good plan. So, day one: scones, home fries, bacon and eggs for breakfast. For dinner: standing rib roast, leek mashed potatoes, roasted green beans, dinner rolls, and carrots. Christmas day #2: a turkey AND a ham, sweet potato casserole, green salad, plus all the leftovers from the previous night. Seriously, a turkey and a ham.
Greg made turkey stock and then veggie soup the following day, to which I added my most favorite and easiest bread (also found in Ina's Barefoot Contessa at Home). It was so delicious that I made it again last night, back at our home. The recipe calls for buttermilk; our grocery store was out yesterday, so I tried the make-your-own variety for the first time. 1 Tbsp vinegar + 1 C milk, let sit. Seems to have worked just fine...I see a lesson forming for a someday "Chemistry of Cooking" class.
Hopefully this year will bring plenty more opportunity to be in the kitchen and to feed the people in my life that I love. I haven't seen my kids at school for over a week, but they've been showing up in my dreams, always reminding me they are there.
On that note, I will leave you with a phone call I got from one of my students just after midnight last night, as I was coming in from watching cloud-shrouded fireworks on our roof.
Alex: Happy new year, Sarah.
Me: Happy new year! Did you see fireworks?
Alex: No, but I heard gunshots.
I love you all the same, New York City. Happy New Year to us all.