Monday, December 31, 2007

H.A.S., #6: Countdown...

Savenor's: Our local fancy market

After prying ourselves out of bed, P and I spent the majority of the morning trying to put together our New Year's Eve menu. We are staying in, but going all out. Here's the menu we are working with now:

  • Golden Oyster Bisque
    (served with Veuve Cliquot)

  • Roast leg of lamb with browned yogurt-mint sauce
    (with a Lengs & Cooter shiraz)

  • Asparagus, either roasted or steamed, drizzled with truffled olive oil, sea salt, & cracked pepper (thanks, H!)

  • Creme brule (I'm cheating here, they are in the freezer), with warm berries and mint
    (Think we will break out the Sauternes for this one...)

After setting the menu, it was off to Savenor's and the Wine & Cheese Cask to get our ingredients. They are both just around the corner, and they had everything we needed. We even got a "free" Savenor's tote bag for our ingredients since we purchased over a certain - undisclosed - amount of money.

Now, the Veuve is chilling, going to get going on the marinating, table-setting, etc. Plenty of time...
PS - At ALV's suggestion, I will try to get some of our recipes linked up to our menu...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

H.A.S., #5: Holiday Redux, Part I

M&D celebrate NoCo Christmas
Merry Christmas, and happy anticipation of New Year's Eve tomorrow! A lot has happened since H.A.S. #4, so it will most likely take me a few posts to catch up. I thought I would start with part I of our grand holiday tour of NY State...

Part I: The NoCo (North Country, for the uninitiated)
Every time I take P to Potsdam, I promise him we will do all these cool NoCo things, like, go to Canada, and to this bar called "The Lounge," or just "Lounge." It's a fantastic place located next to a Chinese take-out place and a retirement settlement, but I'll get to that later. Anyway, I can honestly say that I was successful this time! P had some true NoCo adventures.

The day after arriving in Pdam, we hopped in the car with my parents for an afternoon trip to Ottawa, our closest major city. What fun it was! We had some tasty Vietnamese soups and noodles for lunch, then walked around the Byward Market picking up various cheeses, pastries, and pates along the way. It was damp and chilly, which made each little shop we popped into seem extra cozy. We ended the day at a comfy, warm pub for a pint with my parents. I had a half-pint.

L has a half-pint with the parents

P in a foreign country.
Doesn't he look happy in his natural habitat?

Other adventures included drinks with friends C&A at Maxfield's, stuffing our faces at home with my parents (400 grams of Canadian-imported pate down the hatch), and a particularly fun visit to LOUNGE. Now, Lounge deserves a post of its own, but I include a picture here of native Pdamians and P enjoying Lounge. It is no longer a mythical place for P, but a fantastic reality. We. Love. Lounge.

V, P, L enjoy LOUNGE,
lit by the heavenly glow of Labbatt's Blue...

During our stay with my parents we ate, and ate, and ate. In addition to the aforementioned pate, we had homemade spaghetti and meatballs, pork tenderloin, cornish hens, baked ham, multiple cheeses, cookies, baklava, a Christmas pudding from Harrods that I lugged back from London with me, wine, wine, wine, a delicious dirty martini (or two)... the rest is a blur.

Here we are post-feasting, wearing our Christmas Cracker crowns....

Christmas morning was truly lovely. We had lots of snow out the window, a twinkling tree, faux-log burning in the fireplace, and pretty presents for all. Then, of course, we had breakfast (Pannetone, eggs benedict, coffee...). You would think that we are quite large people, but I think we only gained a few pounds. We eat like champs. Need the food to beat the NoCo winter.

The day after Christmas leads to Part II: Victor, or the great tour of WNY. Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

H.A.S., #4: Let it snow...

Let it snow: Storm #1, University closes! Adult snow day!

The good ol' days in the northeast have returned. Not yet officially winter, and we have already experienced two major(ish) winter storms. For the past several years, global warming has afforded us quite mild Decembers. However, this December refreshes my childhood memories of trudging through snow, having enough snow to tunnel through and build forts in, and snow that stays on the ground for a long time rather than falling and melting within hours. I was beginning to wonder if those memories were just warped by childhood perception and not the way winter really used to be. Guess I remembered correctly.

This past Thursday, we had a city-stopping snowstorm that even closed the University. I got to go home at 2pm! P got stranded and it took him 3 hours by foot/bus to make it home. I was cranky waiting for him because I wanted to be enjoying my extra hours in my cozy home with my husband. Winter is tough, but I have to say, there is something truly wonderful about watching snow swirl outside your window while you are sitting by the glow of your Christmas tree, drinking hot cider or tea.

Snowstorm #2 (or, technically, a Nor'easter) is still blowing as I type. P and I had a lovely Christmas brunch planned with our friends C&M. They got stuck and couldn't come, Boo! However, the upside is that all the hardwork P & I did yesterday to prepare for our foiled brunch resulted in a a very romantic breakfast for the two of us....

Storm #2: Canceled holiday brunch turns to
romantic holiday breakfast...

Do you like my holly berry accents to our table settings? I was so happy to be using our shiny new silverware, pretty plates, new FRENCH linen napkins (Thanks, Uncle Don! You have such good taste.), and best of all -- champagne glasses. If you haven't figured out by now, I am a fiend for champagne, especially when you get to drink it in the morning. Decadent! We had delicious mimosas with my carefully planned menu:

  • Strata with ham, mushroom, and onion
  • Overnight French Toast with brown sugar coating, and topped with pecans and triple sec-spiked whipped topping
  • Canteloupe with mint (forgot to serve it, but it would have been perfect)

Finish with some good Christmas CDs, candles, and mimosas -- fantastic!

Needless to say, minus two people, we have tons of food to hold us through this storm and a major present wrapping marathon today. We have some mindless movies to keep us busy, eggnog, cider, hot chocolate -- we'll be set, if not a few pounds heavier by the end.

Christmas is getting near! I realized yesterday, that as an adult, the day is not so important anymore as the lead-up. Relishing the holiday season as a whole can be wonderful. I am looking forward to going home to my parents at the end of this week. They have instilled in me some wonderful holiday traditions, including special ways to count down throughout Advent. I picked up an Advent candle to share with P when I was at Westminster Abbey.

Counting down... this candle is from Westminster Abbey

Five days until we head home for the holidays! Until then, I leave you with a picture of P and I on a sleigh ride. Everyone should take one at least once.
Sleigh ride... lovely photo courtesy of Daria!
I am going to finish my mimosa now, and start with the wrapping. More to come....

Sunday, December 9, 2007

H.A.S., #3: Full on, holiday... go!

P decorates our exorbitently expensive tree!

Mania! I am in the throws of full on holiday go-mode! Love it. I must admit, there was some anxiety brewing when I took a second to think about my newly complicated gift-buying scheme this year, my 5 (count them -- 5!) work holiday parties (two of them potluck), and massive amounts of driving that will be involved in our major family holiday tour. However, now that I'm in the holiday groove, things are good....

I've just recently returned from merry old England, where they are truly Christmas obsessed, in the very best way. I have to say that no less that 3 fireplaces within 600 sq ft started me off in the holiday way. The first hotel I checked into had a roaring fireplace in the lobby, and also one right behind my chair in the dining room where I ate my $30 cereal each morning. This is truly the land of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. I even smelled them roasting just walking around among the holiday shopping. I swear! Fantastic. It was all very A Christmas Carol except it was like the end when Scrooge becomes happified and is in the spirit of things.

Chestnuts! I swear!

One thing that I have been particularly obsessed with since reading all my British children's Christmas books, imported for me from Canada, is the Christmas hamper. They are decadently displayed in all store windows, and you can even order a thousand pound (as in pounds sterling = $2,000USD!) hamper from Harrods. I enthusiastically rambled on in hamper rapture to my boss day after day in London. On the final day, while wandering the glittering displays in Fortnum & Mason, he finally said to me -- "so, you want a christmas clothes hamper?" I was devastated. This whole time he thought I was on a great quest for a container to hold my dirty clothes.

Yesterday, P & I made a "donation" to the school across the street to purchase our very lovely 6' Christmas tree. Lovely! We decorated while listening to Christmas tunes and drinking eggnog liberally mixed with rum. I passed out promply at 9:30 and was put to bed. Late onset jetlag I think -- I was asleep by 8:30 the night before.

Cheers! Eggnog + rum = happy Christmas to me!

The upside of this is that I awoke at 6:30am this lovely Sunday morning. I watched the sunrise by the light of my Christmas tree, then went to work on a batch of toasted pine nut biscotti. Delicious! I prepped the coffee pot with a mix of freshly ground Sumatra and Bourbon spiked coffee (a cultural gift!), and flicked the switch when I heard P start to stir...

Progress has been made: gifts have been bought, biscotti baked, and decorations decorated. More to come!!!!!!