30 December 2007


Christmas was a bit of a whirlwind this year! We were incredibly fortunate, though, considering I made it home through a considerable storm and an overwhelming number of flight delays and cancellations in Chicago. So no complaining on this end.

Being home for such a short period of time meant that the time we had was spent wrapping presents, eating family favorites that I don't have in my 'other' home life, and spending time with Mom and my brother. It was a great Christmas and I am so glad to have had the time that we had together. Last year, Mom was so sick at Christmas that she doesn't even remember it!!!

Mom and D. had already decorated the tree this year, except for the angel, which gets left to me to put on when I get home! The tree looked great. We have a few solid ornaments left over from when D. and I were kids, it's really great to go home and see them on the tree. It makes the holiday seem like, well, the holiday!

I made an ornament when I was in kindergarten that still gets pride of place on the tree...

Oh yeah. No one could stick a santa sticker on a little piece of concrete like me! I wonder how many other kids from my class still have their ornaments? I was so proud of mine. I love it that Mom has kept it and that every year it gets on the tree, reminding me of just how old I am getting!

Christmas dinner was a good time...we had batted around the idea of moving away from tradition and making some different sorts of food, but then common-sense took hold and we went back to the tried and trues.

I tried to get some info on the history behind our foods, because we've eaten the same things for forever. We had the usual staples: turkey, ham, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, noodles, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a lack of vegetables no one noticed what with the other delights abounding on the table!

We started as usual with our appetizer plate.

I like how 1970's this picture looks. Maybe it's just me. Anyway, we always make ranch dip and stuffed celery, as well as having different cheeses and crackers and a big whack of carrots and olives. I didn't make deviled eggs this year, seemed a bit much for this year with it just being the three of us.

Then, I made my Mom's favorite, stuffed mushrooms.

Mom had been asking me to make these mushrooms since the minute I booked my airline ticket! These little gems have a history... When I was in my second year of college, my friends and I used to go to Dallas for the night to have dinner, do some shopping, go to clubs, and get tattoos (they were illegal in Oklahoma at the time). One of our most favorite restaurant gathering places was called Crescent City. I don't know if it's still there, but they had the most amazing cajun-y style food. I had my first muffaletta sandwich and jambalaya there! We all just flipped over these stuffed mushrooms that they served, and would often order an additional batch to eat on the the 3 hour drive home!

The mushrooms were great, and I tried to recreate them at home. I don't know how accurate this recipe is, but it really makes a lovely mushroom!
Crescent City Style Stuffed Mushrooms 12 white button mushrooms 1/2 package cream cheese 2-3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled 2-4 chives, depending on the size and flavour salt pepper Take the stems out of the mushrooms, after they have been cleaned, and arrange on a plate. Mix the cream cheese, bacon and chives together, adding salt and pepper to season. Stuff each mushroom with enough filling to fill the mushrooms, with a little bit of a top, but not so much that they will overflow when cooking. Sprinkle mushrooms with a tiny bit of water, and then place in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of the mushrooms. Remove and enjoy!

Really quite simple, and really quite fantastic.

From there, we moved on to the hard stuff. The aforementioned turkey, ham, etc. Pics of them all...

Woo hoo. Now noodles. I may have touched on this before... but noodles are a traditional Thanksgiving food in my family that I honestly could not do without. The cornbread stuffing with noodles on top... you haven't really lived until you've had this for Thanksgiving. It's such a great taste... my brother, who has always scoffed at the noodle idea, went crazy for it last year (yes, at 37!) and now is a convert. It only took 37 years, but there ya go!

D also made an apple pie, but he didn't like it so he threw it out. But it was pretty...

We also had pumpkin pie, but I don't seem to have taken any photos of that!

We actually had Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. Which is lovely, because then on Christmas Day we have another tradition. Also has a story....

When I was younger, my Mom had to be at work very early in the morning, so she took me toa nursery school before school. There, I bonded with the caretaker, she was a lovely older woman who really liked me despite my evil ways. (I was a bit of a naughty child, but that's another tale.) She made a very large hot breakfast every morning. And every day it was the same. Poached eggs and biscuits and gravy, cereal, juice and milk. Every day. For some reason that I am sure broke all kinds of rules, she began teaching me to make the gravy. And now I make it for the family at Christmas.

I don't make the biscuits from scratch. Thank you Poppin' Fresh for that. But the gravy is my own....

Sausage Gravy -- Southern Style

1/2 package of sausage meat (such as Jimmy Dean)
salt and pepper

Brown and crumble the sausage over medium high heat in a non-stick pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the sausage is broken up and browned, add in just enough butter to make it a little saucy. (Probably about 1.5 tablespoons. Let the butter melt. Add flour, more than you think you may need (about 1/3 cup) and cook the flour for a solid minute, mixing it into the butter. If the mixture seems thin, and doesn't sort of clump together, add more flour. Keep stirring, though, or the flour will burn. Add enough milk to cover the sausage mixture, with about a 1/2 inch over the mixture. Stir constantly until gravy thickens. Serve over biscuits.

D made scrambled eggs, and while not his best efforts, they were really good smothered in gravy. (But then again, what isn't?!)

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