Sunday, December 26, 2010

A very merry

Rusty the cat will be sad when it is time to take down the tree.  He has enjoyed sitting on the gifts, playing with the bows and just hiding behind it.  He will even have to go back to drinking water from his bowl instead of the tree stand.  Berk!
We didn't wake up to a white Christmas as originally predicted, but the snow began in the late evening and we woke up to a white day after Christmas.

High school-age son will be ready to meet up with friends somewhere for sledding.  He loves snow.  Hence the desire to perhaps become a Nebraska Cornhusker next year, I guess.  He has been accepted but is still waiting to hear from a couple other schools before making a decision.
It has been a very low-key merry Christmas for us.  Just the kind I like.  But there is no breaking tradition around here... no "weird" food.  (Well, I did make pumpkin spice pancakes for breakfast.)  All must be done the way it has been for as long as the boys can remember.  There is comfort in that.  First, the Christmas Eve meal around 5:00 pm.
Yes, hamburgers, french fries and chocolate milkshakes.  The men prefer cheese, but I stick to Dijon mustard and ketchup.
Then the Moravian Lovefeast and Candlelight Service at Christ the King Moravian Church.  It is a beautiful service, filled with Christmas carols, buns, coffee, and beeswax candles.  This service has been celebrated by the Moravians since the 1700's.  On my to-do list is to go to Old Salem in nearby Winston-Salem for a Christmas Eve service some Christmas Eve.
This is our collection of candles from the past two years.
Instead of a sermon, the minister told the Christmas story from Mary's dad's perspective.  He told it so well that I could actually believe that he was Jesus' grandfather.  Storytelling is powerful.
After the service, we force the boys to look at Christmas lights.  (They are always anxious to get home to the gift-opening...)  This year, I chose downtown Durham.
Fifty trees were decorated by area non-profits as part of the Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge.  The Ex-Ex and I had already viewed them in the daylight (and in the rain) so that we could vote for our favorite.  Cash prizes were awarded to the top vote-getters.  In Strickland Lobby at American Tobacco, there is Home Makeover: Gingerbread Edition that I must get down to see before Januaray 2.
We then returned home for gifts, hot chocolate, and sugar cookies.
The boys tell me I am hard to shop for but I don't believe that.  Food and France.

Wonderful things came my way.  (Was I really this good all year??)
First a delivery on Christmas Eve morning by 3Cups in Chapel Hill, sent by AG.
Montagnieu White Sparkling Wine.  The very same sparkler we drank in Arles on November 27, 2008 when he, David, Tom and Betty came to visit me.

Here's the proof--
Merci, AG!  Your mama raised you so right.  What a wonderful time that was...
Wine-tasting at Châteauneuf-du-Pape

olive oil pressing at Les Baux

lambs frolicking in the field
the mysterious bags (clever cover-up with knitting needles!) at the truffle market in Carpentras
the chef scrambling up eggs and shaving truffles into them (my very first taste of truffles...)

the call to dinner by Chef Érick
and freshly made pasta with truffles and wine from Châteauneuf.

But I digress.
Back to the present. I've already finished the book my brother-in-law and sister-in-law gave me, A Literary Paris, edited by Jamie Cox Robertson.
It is a collection of excerpts from 19 stories set in, you guessed it, Paris.  Some I had read, David Sedaris from Me Talk Pretty One Day, Hugo's Les Misérables, and Madame Bovary by Flaubert.  Some were new.  Anna Gavalda's I Wish Someone Were Waiting For Me Somewhere (although I remembered that I do have one of her novels, Ensemble, C'est Tout, waiting to be read), A Woman's Life (Une Vie) written by Guy de Maupassant in 1883 and Peter Mayle's Chasing Cézanne (I cannot believe that I haven't read this one).  Some of the quotes at the beginning of the book are priceless--
To err is human.  To loaf is Parisian.    --Victor Hugo
France has neither winter nor summer nor morals-- apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country.  -- Mark Twain
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.    --Ernest Hemingway

My sons ventured into Williams-Sonoma for the first time and came up with a new cookbook, Essentials of French Cooking:  Recipes and Techniques for Authentic Home-Cooked Meals (I did make high school-age son promise to try my creations).  There is a delicious-looking bowl of onion soup on the cover.  That will probably be the first recipe I try when someone ventures out into the snow to buy a bag of onions for me.  A real crock of Dijon mustard came my way.  I remember longingly looking at those crocks when I visited Dijon for the first (and only) time in 1978, but I didn't buy one because I had a very limited amount of francs to spend during my first stay in France.  Now I have one of my very own!  Also a little crock of Herbes de Provence.  College-age son wasn't sure what they were, but he figured I would love them.  So, he got a little pep talk about them and how great they are to cook with.  He is learning to cook and needs some of his own to experiment with, n'est-ce pas?
High school-age son's girlfriend always spoils me.  This year, a new wooden cutting board, a chocolate shaver and French preserves made from four fruits- quatre fruits: fraises, framboises (noires et rouges) et cerises.  I will be having some on toast as soon as I am finished here.  Don't want to risk getting jam on the keyboard.

And the Ex-Ex is taking me to dinner at Provence in Carrboro (also known as the Paris of the Piedmont!).  He is a very smart man.  I had sent him a link to an email I had received from the restaurant a couple of weeks ago.  Wild boar civet was on the menu and I am anxious to try sanglier.  I've only had sausage made from it.  I am sure we will be able to dig the car out and the roads will be clear by tomorrow night.  That will be worth going out into the snow for!
Our Christmas day meal is always Honey-Baked Ham.  High school-age son chose macaroni and cheese and college-age son chose mashed potatoes.  I chose green beans.  The Ex-Ex is such a good eater that he eats pretty much whatever is put in front of him.  I used some of my new Dijon moutarde with my ham.  Yum!  Pumpkin pie and homemade chocolate chip cookies from high school-age girlfriend.  (Hers are way better than mine-- I must get the recipe.)
And leftovers will be available today.

Bon appétit to my generous friends and family!  Merci beaucoup!

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