For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

We're in the middle of preparing our Wigilia feast, which seems to be turning out quite wonderfully.  The house smells marvelous, and I can't wait to try that goose!

I'd like to take a moment in the middle of all the preparations to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May Christmas be a day of joy and contentment, and may 2011 be a year of health, happiness and prosperity for you and yours.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Almost ready!

Well, we're almost ready for our Wigilia!  The tourtierre are done.  We may pick up a few last minute gifts.  Otherwise, I've done my wrapping, though the girls have some to do.  The goose is thawing out right now, and the rest of the groceries needed will be picked up on the 23rd and the 24th will be spent preparing. 

In deciding on a menu this year, we've decided to cut things back a little, even though we've got a 5th person joining us this year.  We have a tendency to produce a huge menu that would feed an office party rather than just ourselves. *L*  We've dropped the cheese and soup courses completely.

This is what we've decided on for this year.

Bacon and Cheddar devilled eggs
Fruit plate

Greek salad
Caesar salad
(we're doing two, as Youngest and I don't like some of the ingredients of a Greek salad, but Dh and Eldest love it)

Roast goose, basted with orange juice and red wine (no stuffing)
Cheesy mashed potatoes
Broccoli, Julia Child's style

Whatever tempts us at the bakery

Cranberry punch (cranberry juice, ginger ale and frozen berries)
Wine; probably a red, but whatever strikes our fancy

Yeah, we're "cheating" with some things.  The fruit plate will be something pre-made at the grocery store, and I'm quite content with their bakery offerings.  The rest won't require a lot of time or attention.  Even the goose won't need a lot, once it's in the oven.  The less time spent tending pots and pans, the better!  Eldest will be doing the salads and the broccoli.  We don't usually cook broccoli, but when I did, I usually either steamed or stir fried it.  After watching a Julia Child episode, Eldest was inspired to try out the method (first cooked covered in a small amount of water, then pan fried in garlic and butter).  It is SO incredibly good.

I think I'll need to take out those Julia Child dvd's again.  We could use some kitchen badassery.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Before I head to bed...

Well, I'm happy to say today's cooking of the tourtierre filling went quite well!  Aside from tormenting my eyes with a dozen onions, everything went quite smoothly.  After peeling the onions (and keeping the skins for dying eggs at Easter) I had to take a break.  Eldest was kind enough to premeasure all the spices and herbs for me while I did, then youngest took care of putting the 24 cloves of garlic through the press for me.  I prefer the pressed garlic over the minced garlic for these.

The cooking was actually done by about 6 pm, though it took quite a while longer before it was cool enough to set the pot outside.  It was still quite warm, actually - warm enough that I think it would have melted the snow I put it in and we'll be having to yank it loose from ice tomorrow - but it should be okay. 

You know, we'd never be able to do this sort of thing any other time of year!  For the number of pies we make (I got 24 pounds of meats this year, which should be about 20-22 pies), unless we had a chest freezer, we'd have some serious concerns about safely storing the filling until it cooled down completely.  Being able to put the entire pot (or pots, as we've done in the past) outside in temperatures below freezing works out rather well.  Then, on baking day, the pies get moved through a series of cooling areas before finally ending up outside.  In the end, after they're wrapped up in foil, we put them outside to freeze, leaving them stored in a sealed bin.  Without a freezer bigger than whats on our fridge, outside is the only place we can freeze and store them!

We need to decide on our menu very soon.  Aside from a goose and tourtierre, we haven't really thought about it.  It should be fun!

Before I head off to bed, though (seeing as how it's past 2:30 am as I write this), here are a few photos of this year's Christmas decorations on our tree. 

This one was made using glow in the dark yarn and some gold metallic crochet thread twisted together as I wrapped it.   The centre is a mostly hidden flower cut out from some scrap booking paper.  The stamens are highlighted with gold glitter glue, applied with a fine tipped paintbrush.
This one is made with some leftover alpaca yarn and silver metallic crochet thread.  The centre is some blue card stock with a glittery finish, a self adhesive gem and some silver glitter glue to add some extra sparkle.

We made a total of about 30 of these, each one different from the other.  Three of them were wrapped "backwards" for an effect I think I actually prefer.  I wish I'd thought of it earlier.  As it was, I seriously considered cutting out more forms (rather than gluing two squares of cardboard together, as per the instructions at the site I linked to, I cut the start out of foam core) to do more.  In the end, I decided we already had more than enough.

We've got so many decorations now, even considering how many we give away every year, we can't fit them all on the tree!  I really like our busy, eclectically decorated tree. :-D

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tourtierre weekend

This is our weekend for making tourtierre.  I picked up the meats yesterday.  Most of it was frozen (the butcher shop slowly filled my order over the space of a week as supplies came in), with the ground turkey finished up shortly before I arrived to pick it up.  I got our Christmas goose at the same time, which will stay in the freezer for a while longer.  At about $90 for a 10-12 pound bird, it had better turn out! LOL

Right now... I'm procrastinating.  The dishes are done, but the kitchen isn't anywhere near ready.  I need clear stuff away to make room for prep and the food processor.  Everything still needs to be wiped down.  The stock pot still needs a scalding and rinse, since it's been in storage since the kids used it to make apple juice.  Of course, there's also a long list of things that also needs to be done, but no one's doing it and I have no energy to nag at people to do what should be obvious.  I've got a mild cold - not enough to be much a problem, but enough to make me reserve what little energy I have to things that won't drive me nuts.

What I really want to do is crawl into a corner and nap for a week.


Time to hit the kitchen.  Wish me well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A few brief moments...

It's becoming increasingly difficult to find uninterrupted time to write!  I've got a few brief moments now, but from the sounds of things, they won't last long, so we'll see how much I can catch up.

Though I haven't been putting up any library lists lately, it's not for lack of going to the library!  Eldest has been going several times a week, sometimes a couple of times a day, even after completing the studies she was working on.  As I write this, she and Youngest are there right now and I've got an open invitation to join them for coffee later on, if I want.  The branch we use has a Second Cup in the same building, next to their little free art gallery.  It's been a great place to get some quality time in together while having all sorts of discussions and doing some people watching, too.

Sadly, in noting the time, I won't be able to join them today.  As soon as I finish this, I need to get a stew going.  Ah, well.  Maybe this evening. :-D

Dh, meanwhile, is home sick today.  He seems to have finally caught the stomach bug I suffered with not that long ago. I hope that's not it, because whatever bug I caught, it seems to have completely messed up my digestion on a long term.  I'm guessing it effected my intestinal flora in a bad way, because even though I'm feeling fine now, no matter what I eat or how little, I've been suffering from bloat ever since.  Dh has enough problems without that on top of it!  Either way, he's just gone back to bed.

Raider King is still living with us.  He's still looking for work and has a job interview coming up, which is encouraging.

As a family, we're slowly trying to get ready for Christmas.  This year's Christmas decorations are based on these instructions.  They went over so well that both girls ended up making some, and even Raider King made a few as gifts for his family.

Our tree is up, as well as a few decorations, but very little else; a frustration of mine.  We're also behind on getting our yearly group photo that I use to make our digital Christmas cards.  It was supposed to be done yesterday, but between people being sick, in pain or just plain snarly, it just didn't happen.  It was going to instead happen today, with the girls and I meeting Dh near his office during lunch and getting some outdoor shots, but with him home sick, that's out.  So I have no idea when we'll get the photo taken now.

I've pre-ordered the meats for our tourtierre (24 pounds this year) and will be picking it up on friday.  We'll be baking like crazy over the weekend.  If things work out, we'll freeze a few and mail them to Dh's parents through Express Post.  Packed properly, they should still be frozen when they arrive, but even if they're partly thawed, it just means they can eat them faster. :-D

While ordering our meats I looked into getting a suckling pig, having been inspired by watching old Julie Child shows.  She recommended a 10-12 pound pig, which would be more than enough for the 5 of us.  No such luck!  The smallest available was 30-45 pounds.  I don't think our oven is even big enough for a pig that size, and it would be way too much for so few people.

So what I'll most likely do, then, is a goose.  I've never done goose before, and it's not the same as other birds.  One of the things I've learned while reading various cookbooks was that the skin needs to be pierced to allow the fat to drain.  The one time my mother cooked domestic goose, we found it so fatty, it was almost inedible.  I now suspect she didn't know about the skin piercing thing.  Having so successfully cooked a Canada Goose previously, it never occurred to any of us that a domestic goose would need to be treated differently.

Well, I've just lost my quiet time.  Oh, well.  At least I got this much done. :-P  Hopefully, I'll be able to catch up more soon.