Every Christmas our son and his girlfriend return to Western Massachusetts from Denver to visit family and to celebrate the holiday.
Susan and I always prepare a special dinner for the two. One year we made their favorite; Chicken Piccata. Another year Pasta Putanesca. And once, Piccadillo.
Days later Susan and I had the leftovers for lunch.
Here is recipe upon which I based my Gumbo. Note: I baked two chicken breasts and once cooled cut them into bit-size pieces. I cooked bacon first, set it aside, and used the fat instead of oil to make the roux. I also used local Polish Kielbasa. And I added a can of chopped tomatoes to the dish. I didn’t have a green pepper so I used two seeded and chopped jalapeno peppers.
I believe in using the good china. The good crystal. Drinking the champagne.
This appetizer is so delicious, and easy to prepare, it cries out to be served on a holiday: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day. But for me, every day is a holiday. So get out your good china. Your good crystal. Abd uncork that bottle of champagne!
Here’s the recipe with my changes noted:
Reading from The New York Times:
“This was the first recipe that the chef and writer Gabrielle Hamilton brought to The Times as an Eat columnist for the Sunday magazine in 2016, a snack-tray-sandwich version of a celery-and-fennel salad served at her restaurant, Prune, in the East Village. It calls for thick, white toasted Pullman bread spread wall to wall with unsalted butter, with slices of blue cheese neatly laid on top, below a mound of shaved celery and thinly sliced scallions dressed in garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, and the whole shebang dusted in ground black pepper before being cut in halves or quarters. ‘The ingredients come from the grocery store,” she wrote in her column. “These toasts are not expensive or intimidating, but they are outstanding.'”
2 slices country white Pullman bread, 1/2-inch thick (I used Italian bread.)
1 cup shaved celery, from the inner head, toughest outer stalks removed, thinly sliced on the bias (I also used many leaves.)
2 scallions, thinly sliced on bias all the way up from the white through the green
1 large clove garlic (I did not use any garlic.)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Several grinds black pepper
Toast the bread to golden. Butter generously, “wall to wall.” Lay cheese slices on top of buttered toast, neatly, evenly. (I toasted the bread in the oven.)
In a small bowl, stir together the celery and the scallions. Microplane the garlic into the celery mixture.
Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and salt, and stir very well, until completely dressed, almost wet with dressing.
Mound the shaved celery salad evenly on top of the blue-cheese toasts, and grind black pepper over them very generously. Cut each in half or quarters. (I put the toasts back in the warm oven to slightly melt the cheese.)
I served this with lentil ham soup.
A few days later I made celery toasts again. This time I added a few chopped blue cheese stuffed green olives.
A New Year. New Resolutions. New Alterations. A Time To Bloom.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
~Some of the most quoted words of the Bible are from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verses 1-8
Reading from Unity:
This sacred list from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 represents all the seasons and the important changes of our lives. Some are happy times, others sad; some are productive while others seem wasteful; some inspire peace and others bring pain.
All of them are necessary for us to learn, grow, and evolve as spiritual beings. Their appearance is not by accident. If we look closely enough, each experience reveals a loving, divine purpose that we can learn to trust.
You can read about the lessons of these verses here.
A blessing it was to host our traditional Family Christmas Eve Party a few short weeks ago. Last year we were unable to have our traditional Family Christmas Eve Party because of Covid.
Here is our menu:
Here are photos from the party (Click on photo to enlarge.):
Left to right: apple cranberry crisp by Susan; jalapeno corn muffins by Susan; Daryl looking at 2022 calendar of Rocky Mountain National Park photos by me; Julia and Daryl; Kate, Lauren and Owen opening presents; kielbasa; Lauren; Lauren and Owen looking at book of NYC photos by me; Owen and Lauren; Picadillo; sweet and spicy nut and pretzel mix; shrimp cocktail; Susan holding present from Julia and Daryl; new vinyl from Daryl.
A few days ago, the day Susan and I got our second Shingles shot, we came home and moved all the furniture in our living room to put down a new rug.
The next day we were both sore–not our arms where the Shingles shot was given, but our legs, back, neck, and, yes, our rear. A few days later, our arms hurt and continued to hurt, from the Shingles shot.
But the shot and the moving of furniture was well worth it. Just look at how beautiful the living room is.
On December 6 Susan and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. We have been together for fourteen years. She found this Melissa Clark recipe online and asked me to make it for our dinner. Melissa didn’t call for making a salad but I thought it would be perfect combination–it was delicious.
Here is the recipe. I made a few changes which I note.
2 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-size florets (I used 1 pound.) 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground) 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground) 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/8 teaspoon hot chili powder 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used cocktail shrimp. 12 pieces.) 1 1/4 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon) Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and chili powder. In a separate bowl, combine shrimp, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
2. Spread broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. (I roasted the broccoli for 15 minutes.) Add shrimp to baking sheet and toss with broccoli. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until shrimp warm (about 5-10 minutes). Squeeze lemon juice all over shrimp and broccoli just before serving.