Post #619 Holiday Snapshots

January 6, 2019 at 11:15 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #619 Holiday Snapshots

Hello!  We’re back with a new year, as promised.  This years is shaping up to be a year of challenges on all fronts, but also a year of excitement, new projects, and lots of learning.  The holiday season was fun, hectic, and fulfilling, but happily is gone for another year.  A good time was had by all in our household, as well as plenty of rest.

So, even though we live in New England now, the big news is that we did not have a white Christmas.  We had some leftover snow piles from the “big” storm we had in November, but most of that is gray and dirty piles in corners of parking lots.  We had lots of rain, lots of wind, and lots of mild temperatures.  Nothing we couldn’t handle.  Even a couple of cold snaps came with dry weather so no snow there.  Fingers crossed we’ll get through the rest of the winter as easily.

I forgot how hard but how fun working in retail at the holidays is.  It’s been a long time since I last did that.  The bookstore was humming and the lines were long.  Despite how long the lines were (and they were long, trust me) we got the folks in and out expeditiously.  Many customers complimented us how efficient and how fast we worked to get tired people done and out the door.

We sold a lot of books (I love seeing that!) and I watched for trends in what people were buying.  We sold a ton of Michelle Obama’s book.  It’s still selling very well.  We sold out regularly.  Luckily, supplies were prepared and we got replacements in to take care of the demand.  Oddly, we sold a lot of woodworking books which puzzled me.  But one book stood out, and it intrigued me.

This is a cookbook and we started selling a ton of them in November.  One lady bought six copies to give away!  One older man and I got to talking about it while we was purchasing it and I found out he’s a professional chef and loved the way this author/chef presented the information.  At our store, we’re allowed to “check out” books like a library (only employees can), so I did.  I had to know what the fuss was about.

This woman’s credentials are stellar, starting as the bottom and working her way up.  She was used to her cultural way of cooking, but discovered there were other ways to cook that were just as flavorful as her own.  Eventually she codified what she’d discovered into four basic principles.  She says that if you can master the elements of salt, fat, acid, and heat, in that order, you’ll be able to cook anything and create amazing flavors.  I’ve only just started reading it, so you’ll probably hear me referring to this as I learn new techniques and new flavor combos.

Christmas Eve we closed early, traffic was light, so I got home early.  The apartment was warm, full of light, and there was a glass of wine waiting for me!  We took time to slow down, relax, listen to music, and nibble on munchies rather than have a full meal.  Our tradition, like so many other families, is to open one present on Christmas Eve.  In both cases, books were involved.  In Iceland, Christmas Eve books are the only presents exchanged.  Each person takes their book(s) and a cup of hot chocolate and spends the rest of the day/evening reading and discussing their new books.  We didn’t do much discussing, but we got into brand new extremely soft jammies, and read like we’d been denied books for over a year.

The next day, we slept late.  Our plan was to take care of the mundane things like dog walking and breakfast, then take the rest of the day at a leisurely pace.  I had made several dozen chocolate chip cookies for the store and there were plenty for us.  We also had a gingerbread with nuts that Partner/Spouse made.  We planned to make a few more nibbles and just munch all day until dinner was ready.

I made Pepperoni Chips.  Do you remember these?  I stumbled onto these little delights when I was looking at the crust of a pizza.  I laid out pepperoni slices onto a rimmed baking sheet making certain they did not touch each other.  Then they got put into a 350 oven for fifteen minutes.  A ton of grease is going to render out, but don’t worry.  When you take these out of the oven, lay them in a single layer on some paper towels to dry off.  Once they’ve reached room temp, they will be crispy and delightful, spicy and meaty, a wonderful small mouthful of crunch that evokes the best part of a pizza.  I made two batches because Partner/Spouse needed some for his dish.

He took some pizza dough and rolled it out flat and rectangular, about the size of a half-size baking sheet.  Then he crushed up some pepperoni and spread it evenly over the dough.  He chopped some spring onion, whites and greens, and spread those over the dough.  He added some fresh chopped garlic and garlic powder.  He rolled that up tightly, sprinkled with sesame seeds, then cut quarter-inch slices.  He laid those out on a baking sheet and baked at 375 for about a half hour until they were cooked through and brown on top.  They cooled down, then got laid on a plate with the pepperoni chips.

That, along with some fresh veggies, the cookies and cakes, and some cheese were perfect to munch during the day.

But we got restless about mid-morning and decided to go for a drive.  Buddy the Boston Terrier got a new sweater for Christmas and was dying to show off to his other doggie friends so we got him decked out in his new duds.  We ended up at a state park quite by accident.

He’s not happy with his new sweater.  It’s about a half-size to small, or he’s about a whole size too big.  Most likely the latter.  There’s a roaring river about 50 feet from where we’re standing, but no easy way to get to it from there.  And it was pretty decently cold since we were up in the mountains.  We wandered for about twenty minutes, then decided to go find some hot chocolate somewhere.  We ended up at a gas station in a good sized town where we got our hot drinks and some snacks.

Dinner that night was a ham that was braised in a mulled wine.  Partner/Spouse took charge of all that and had been mulling the wine for days.  Mulled wine is simply red wine that has sweet herbs and spices added to it.  The wine is warmed so the flavors blend, and it’s drunk from mugs.  He chose to let the flavors blend at room temp for several days to get the most out of them.  The ham was delicious.

One of the presents I got was a book on nutrition!  Yay, me!

I’ve already started to plow my way through this.  You’ll hear more about it as I start incorporating its knowledge into my every day cooking.  I did take a quick run through and found some very interesting recipes that I can’t wait to try.

So, we got home, watched movies, drank wine, called friends and family, and generally just relaxed and had a good day.

Hope all was well at your homes.  I’m looking forward to blogging this year and hearing from you all about your own food challenges.

As always,

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