Christmas Eve weird

img_5902For as long as I can remember (except for the year Sid was born) we’ve celebrated Christmas Eve at my parent’s house. It’s a warm bustle of activity. Lots of folks coming in and out, the decorating of a huge tree, some kind of craft, food, warmth, good friends, love. Lots of preparing for the huge dinner for 30 or so people that my parents host every year. Here‘s a link.

My sister reads a falling-apart copy of The Night Before Christmas (from the 1940s) to whomever is a kid that particular year, before they go to bed. Then there is a wrapping frenzy. Honestly, I’m not sure my mom even goes to sleep at all.

This year is not like that. This year is totally weird.

First of all, we don’t have the house. I mean, we do, but it looks more or less like this:img_1100

My parents ate out tonight. The house is cold, and unfinished. We’re living in a crappy basement apartment. Tomorrow, we’re eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant with only 16 people because 14 had to cancel for some reason or another.

I sat down with Shane and told him we had to find the joy. He’s got some kind of horrible respiratory thing, I’ve had a stomach bug for a week and half and Rose puked last night.

But we HAVE to find the joy, if for no other reason than for our kids, and my mom who is also taking this break from tradition pretty hard.

Tonight, we found our joy right here:img_5916Shane and the kids had Parmesan Chicken Goujons aka “chicken noogits” and I had the mildest of mild butternut squash soups. And then Sid told us he wanted to leave Santa “chicken noogits, and ketchup, and rice, and seltzer, and milk and a juice box and a cookie” And isn’t that the kind of magic that Christmas is all about for us agnostics (and christians alike)?

Also joyful was reading an ancient copy of The Night Before Christmas (twice) while fielding questions about why it’s broken and who broke it.img_5911

As Santa says: Merry Christmas To All And To All A Good Night!

 

A regular old weeknight post

Vegetarian optionIt’s been so, so long since I did a regular, non-special occasion, weeknight post. This kind of breaks my heart because the whole point of this blog was dinner, every night. We still eat together, I just don’t have time to post. I feel like I’ve said that before.

Tonight was inspiring. Everyone was sitting down at the table (sort of). Everyone (except Sid) was eating. It was (almost) perfect. It was delicious, because it was Better Miso Glazed Salmon (which I don’t eat).

Vegetarians do not despair! It was also baked tofu (recipe below) with some of the butter-miso sauce put aside before it went on the salmon. Add to that roasted carrots, roasted little potatoes, salad and I’m hooked.

• Baked Tofu •

Ingredients:
1 package extra firm tofu

a few glugs of peanut oil
salt

Press tofu between several layers of paper (or clean cloth) towels, weigh down with a cast iron skillet or something else heavy for 1/2 hour or so until a lot of the water has been squeezed out. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tofu into 1″ squares and toss with olive oil and salt, be generous!

Lay tofu squares out on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet – separate them so they’re not touching. Bake for about 20 minutes or until starting to become golden but not firm (they firm up after the come out of the oven). Remove from oven and let sit for a moment or two. Serve with your favorite tasty sauce (such as butter-miso sauce)

Oh, and here’s that salmon:

Salmon

 

The wee laddie is 3

Sid turned 3 yesterday. Figuring it was probably our last chance to do so, we had a very small gathering in the afternoon, planned somewhat at the last minute.

Shane had the forethought to makes meatballs from the Polpo cookbook, not because people would be expecting a meal at 3:00 in the afternoon, but because he knew most of us would probably linger past party time and end up wanting some dinner. And that’s what happened.

But first we had cheese, crackers, berries and juice boxes. The boys ran around in circles with balloons until Sid asked to have cupcakes. He cried when we sang for him but quickly recovered and ate his cupcake with several requests for candle re-lighting (but no singing) which we obliged.

The cupcakes were chocolate (Hellman’s Mayonnaise) cake, which we adapted by filling standard tins 2/3 of the way, and baking for 15 minutes. We frosted them with cream cheese and butter frosting (recipe below). After that Sid opened his presents, asking each time “Is this one my present?” and responding with delight when we said yes.

The Polpo meatballs make me happy, even though I don’t eat meatballs, because they don’t take very long to make. Shane made a batch of Marcella’s sauce for me—and anyone else not wanting meat—and my mom made two salads. The boys had plain pasta and wheat thins while watching Frozen on somebody’s phone.

At the end of the night, I asked Sid if he liked his party and would like to have another one next year. He said yes and that he would like a Bobcat.

Happy birthday our Siddy. We love you.

• Butter & Cream Cheese Frosting •

1 to 1.5 lbs confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 8oz package cream cheese at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese in an electric stand mixer until combined and smooth. Add the the vanilla and blend. Add confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time until desired consistency and level of sweetness is achieved. You will use approximately 1 to 1.5 lbs of sugar. Makes enough to frost a 2 layer 9″ cake or 24 cupcakes.