After suffering some sort of health ailment for most of the month, it was so nice to have my appetite back (remind me I said that when I can no longer fit into those size 6 jeans, OK?) in time for Christmas weekend. It was also nice to have gotten off antibiotics so I didn't feel badly about having a glass of wine... or six.
The holidays are a good example of why this blog is titled the way it is - it's one of the times over the course of the year during which, as my darling husband (I'm still excited about the heart rate monitor) says, we dine like decadent philistines. I'm not one for gluttony (unless chocolate covered mint Peeps® are involved), but it's nice to sit down to a top notch meal a few times each year, especially when I'm able to share in that good fortune with family and friends.
And of course, it's a good excuse to pull out the china.
This was my paternal grandmother's china, and while it's not the most expensive or fancy flatware, I love it. Sango Carlotta 3628, in case you were curious. But don't go looking for it - it's discontinued, and I'm hard at work collecting as much as I can (my goal is to be able to host a part of 16, but right now I'm shooting for 8 complete place settings).
Christmas Eve and Christmas marked the second and third occasion this year that I used the china. That's a record - let's look to beat that, 2012.
As we both managed to have enough health in reserves to finish our Christmas shopping, Christmas Eve's only emergency was the realization that we no longer had a digital meat thermometer (our old one met its maker in the form of one of my mother-in-law's dogs after Thanksgiving; it must have tasted delicious and turkey-ey), so Scott had to run out for that in order that he could make our Christmas dinner.
Once he was safe at home (he went nowhere near any store selling the new Air Jordans), we had one of our good friends over for a lovely Christmas Eve dinner - arugula and spinach salad with blackberries and feta (I didn't get any blackberries, as HRH appropriated mine for her own eating enjoyment), pan-roasted asparagus with red peppers and almonds, and crab cakes (my favorite food ever).
Our friend Danielle says away from gluten, so when I was tasked with making dessert, I found a lovely and simple recipe for baked apples from Saveur. The older I get, the more I prefer fruit-based desserts as opposed to something overly sweet and cloying, and this hit the spot after a fairly rich dinner. Caramel still makes me a little nervous, but it turned out so well, and - bonus - there is leftover caramel for me to eat over ice cream this week when no one is home to judge me.
Christmas dinner was, in Scott's eyes, another opportunity to use Bogey the Smoker. He always prefers a standing rib roast for the holiday, so I think he got a little giddy when he realized he could smoke one instead of roast it.
He plated the smoked prime rib with some roasted fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts with pancetta, and his first (and amazing successful) attempt at Yorkshire pudding, pairing all of it with an absolutely divine zinfandel (Gnarly Head).
Dinner was a small occasion - Scott's mom came over for dinner, bringing dessert (pecan pie and a pear-cranberry crumble). Many of our other family members graciously invited us over for dinner, but since we had both been down with the sickness, we didn't want to give anyone else the cootie bugs that we were carrying. It turned out well that way, I think; HRH was on stimulation overload (I'm sure you parents of younger children can relate), so not being far from home was a blessing for everyone involved (including our relatives who didn't have to deal with HRH's meltdown; I'm pretty sure they are thankful for it, even if they don't know it yet).
Thankfully, I was able to spend this morning in elastic pants as I got back on the running train. After a 4.5-mile run (I walked part of the way), I felt almost elated.
How did I celebrate? Leftover prime rib and Yorkshire pudding.