Well, another Christmas Eve down the hatch – and yet another disaster to write about. I was worried about the ovens – we ended up fixing them in a very “creative” way and I was worried about them working correctly when all 4 ovens are on at the same time. I discovered through trial and error that if I wanted the oven at 375, I had to turn it to 400 and then down to 375 for if I just put it to 375 it would go to about 300 and turn off. A great way to cook a $125 piece of meat, right?
Anyway, it turned out I was worrying about the wrong thing as we had an ice storm Christmas Eve and our electricity went our for three hours about 20 minutes before we were supposed to eat. When this happened I have to admit, I yelled FUCK about three different ways in front of children and my 80 year old mother in law. I couldn’t believe it! Luckily, the beef tenderloin in the oven was pretty much done, and the other beef tenderloin was on the grill, so no problems there. But, I couldn’t bake the dinner rolls, properly re-heat the twice baked potatoes and the roasted cauliflower got mushy since it was sitting around too long, so that was kind of a disaster. I was glad that we were all eating by dim candlelight, because everyone was raving about the meat but I know that had they seen it, they would be screaming, well, bloody murder. Oh well, funny how alcohol + darkness = fabulous meal. And everyone forgot about my F-bomb… I think.
Happy Holidays everyone!
CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER 2009
Justin Wilson’s Holiday Cheese Ball
Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary & Red Peppercorns
Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Parsley Butter Crust
(a favorite by my friend Sandy – will post recipe soon)
Hot Chocolate & Christmas Cookies
Yes, today is Festivus – the holiday for the rest of us. I have to say my List of Grievances is quite long this year… 2009 has pretty much sucked.
In the interest of objective reporting, I must confess that I once again ordered some steaks from Allen Brothers, and – lo and behold – they arrived the day they said they would!
Now, granted, this was a personal order for me, not a gift as has been the problem in the past. It’s also 3 weeks from Christmas. But, I had to give kudos where kudos is due.
In other breaking news:
303 Taxi Still Sucks!
How many times have you thought of Thanksgiving and also thought of this ubiquitous painting by American artist Norman Rockwell? (Not that anyone in the history of time ever had a Thanksgiving that looked like this, but we like to think that we do…) Anyway, seeing this picture again reminded me of a a fascinating article I read last month in Vanity Fair about the interesting process that Norman Rockwell actually used to create his paintings. Rockwell used staged photographs (and plenty of them) to create the look and feel he wanted for his finished portraits.
The article is based from information from a newly published book on Rockwell called Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick. The article and the book are both really a really interesting look into the creative process of one of our most overlooked artists.
Check it out – and happy Thanksgiving!
Vanity Fair: Norman Rockwell’s American Dream
Amazon.com: Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick
Happy 4th of July! Let’s celebrate the American way – with drunken idiots blowing fingers off with dangerous fireworks!
Also, I thought this video was cool…
Okay, before I tell my St. Patrick’s Day Miracle story, I need to talk about something. On St. Patrick’s day we went to an Irish Pub in a neighboring town to soak up some true Irish atmosphere and have some traditional Irish food to celebrate the day in the way that God intended. So, we sit down at the pub and they have a “special” Irish menu just for the day. I see all the regulars: corned beef & cabbage, fish & chips, shepherd’s pie, etc. etc. Then, about 1/3 way down the page I see this:
Irish Nachos $9
A large pile of tortilla chips fried crisp and topped with homemade chili, melted cheese, diced tomato, scallions and jalapenos served with sour cream and salsa.
WTF is Irish about any of that? Just because it’s St. Patrick’s Day and you put the word Irish in front of something doesn’t make it fucking Irish, now does it? What’s next, Irish Ravioli? Irish Borscht? Irish Matzo Ball Soup? You’re a fucking Irish Pub – you know what you are doing is sacrilege. Okay, had to get that off my chest. Now, back to the Miracle!
So later on in the day we had stopped by a friend’s house so he could feed his dogs and then we were going back out on our St. Patrick’s pub crawl. We hang around the house for awhile, then someone opens a beer, so I figure I might as well have a rum & diet before we leave. I’m hanging in the garage (some of the people were smoking and there is no smoking in the house) and I leave to go to the bathroom that is right next to the garage door, as I have been in this house many times before and knew where the bathroom was. Or, so I thought.
The door was closed and the lights were off, so I open the door and step in… into a stairwell that goes down to the basement! Yes, I picked the wrong door (it was the second door on the right, not the first) and went right down the stairs into the dark stairwell à la Wile E. Coyote. The next thing I know I am crumpled up at the bottom of the stairs and everyone comes running to see if I am okay. Not only was I completely fine, but I didn’t spill my drink. Yes, folks – my rum & diet was still in my hand and it had not spilled. No one, including myself could believe it nor figure out how on earth it could have happened. Now if this doesn’t constitute a miracle, I don’t know what does.
Thanks, St. Patrick!
Of course I am an aficiando – what’s not to love? A holiday where drinking is not only tolerated, but mandatory? Taking the day off to celebrate in the true Irish fashion.
When I return: The story of my New York trip and why I had to sneak a plunger into certain facilities.
I don’t know about you, but I will be glad to say goodbye to 2008. Overall it was a really shitty year with the world economy collapsing, people I know getting laid off, crappy weather, people I know getting flooded out of their homes, and, of course – me turning 40. So, tonight we should all celebrate the new year in style and get the stink of 2008 off our collective auras and start anew tomorrow.
Here’s how I will be celebrating: going out for sushi with friends and then drinking my favorite champagne, Veuve Cliquot. Damn, there is nothing better than this champagne. We went through 24 bottles of it at our wedding, and I think I can account for at least two of them. What better way to forget a crappy year?
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
P.S. Of course, if you drink, don’t drive – but for God’s sake, don’t call 303 Taxi either!
This single dish may have been the one that started me on my obsession with vintage recipes. This is the famous Woodchuck that my Mother-in-Law makes every Christmas morning at her yearly Christmas breakfast. Okay, yes – it does kind of look like someone threw up after drinking too much white zinfandel after a hard-boiled egg eating contest, but I promise you – it really does taste wonderful. It’s my favorite thing she makes on Christmas besides her cookies, but that’s for another day.
What is in this? Actually, I don’t really know. I have tried looking for a recipe for it and have never found anything called “woodchuck” that is even remotely close to this. I know it has hard boiled eggs, green pepper, pimento, canned mushrooms, tomato soup and maybe butter or cream. You pour it over store-bought toasted bread things that I have never seen any store I’ve ever been in, so I don’t know what the hell they are. All I know is I love the damn woodchuck!
If anyone recognizes this dish, please let me know what is is in the comments as I am on a quest to find out where it is from. My Mother-in-Law has been making it forever from a recipe jotted on an index card and can’t remember where she got it.
Well, I am the lucky one again this year and get to make Christmas Eve Dinner for 19. I actually like doing the Christmas Eve thing because it’s not a set menu like Thanksgiving – so you have a little leeway in your choices. This year, in addition to roast beef, I am going to make a 4 lb. Beef Wellington. No, I have never made a Beef Wellington before and it does make me a little nervous to screw up a $200 piece of meat. I am the worst baker in the world, so I will be using a store-bought puff pastry. Not Pepperidge Farm, however – as it is full of trans-fats and preservatives and such. I am using the Dufour brand, which is pure flour and butter. (You can get it at Whole Foods in the freezer section.)
Here is the Menu for this year:
Beef Wellington with Wine Reduction Sauce
Roast Beef with Horseradish Sauce
Roasted Red Potatoes with Herbs
Honey Glazed Carrots
Sandy Salad (a salad made by my friend Sandy that we all love)
Warm Sour Cherry Crisp with French Vanilla Ice Cream
Lord knows I always have some sort of kitchen disaster, so let’s hope people drink enough wine to not notice whatever it is.