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Christmas: Traditions, Family, Fun & Loads of Cooking

Kate Assisting With Christmas Cookies

Kate Assisting With Christmas Cookies

My Mom and my lil sis, Kate, arrived Christmas Eve and after breakfast for lunch at Coastal Kitchen (the salt cod hash was yummy especially with the gingerbread waffle for dessert – we were sharing – really) we set into a Christmas tradition – all-out Christmas cookie baking.  5 kinds in total, Mom’s Molasses Cookies, Chocolate Comfort Co0kies (Kate’s favorite), Orange Cardamom Madeleine’s, Chocolate Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies and old-fashioned sugar cookies (my husband’s request).

CookiesWe took a break for a new holiday tradition, Christmas Eve dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  We went to our new favorite, New Star, and feasted on Mongolian Beef, Honey Garlic Chicken (or as we call it “crack chicken” because it’s so addictive), pork fried rice, egg rolls, and Three Cups Sauce Chicken Hot Pot.  It was delicious and I am sooo sorry I forgot to bring my camera! I really need to get better about pics!  New Year’s resolution, perhaps? 

After Chinese, more cookie making and then I prepped the stuffing and made cinnamon apple cranberry sauce for the next day.  At about 1 am, everyone was in bed, so I played “Santa” and filled the stockings.  Finally fell into bed at 2 am, exhausted.

Up at 8 am the next morning to start cooking the Christmas meal.  At noon, my Dad arrived (having my Mom and Dad at Christmas together was huge as it hadn’t happened in 20+ years) and Mom and Kate were awake and it was present time.  Stockings first of course, which were a big hit – Theo’s chocolate, Dr. Seuss pens, and other assorted goodies were crowd pleasers.  Kate gifted my husband and me with UCLA sweatshirts (she also got me a UCLA water bottle which was immediately put into use) and my husband wore his all day.  He was so happy to have a sweatshirt from his “favorite California Pac 10 school.” 

During presents I was “carmelizing” the onions for our sage turkey and gravy.  I followed the directions faithfully, but they ended up burned.  Oh, well.

From noon to 5:30, I cooked, with varied assistance from the entire family.  My husband’s girls arrived around 3 pm and Lauren was an invaluable potato peeler.  The end result?  Honeybaked Ham, Sage Turkey (Natural, organic from the Northwest) with gravy from the packet – because the recipe we had was horrible – Julia Child’s turnips (obtained from the Farmer’s Market), traditional stuffing, Paula Deen Blue Cheese Au Gratin Potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts with lemon and parmesan, and cinnamon apple cranberry sauce accompanied by Renegade Cabernet Sauvignon (a gift from my Dad).    

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

With the exception of the gravy and the fact that only a portion of the turkey was cooked well enough to eat, the food turned out well, but, I pretty much completely missed Christmas because I spent the entire time in the kitchen.  So, next year, if I’m not in Egypt, which is my first choice, we’re doing things differently.  A turkey breast, not an entire turkey, and fewer side dishes, preferably ones that can be made ahead and reheated.   If that doesn’t minimize my time in the kitchen, we’re having take-out the next year, because the best part of Christmas is spending time with your family.  A good meal is just a bonus.


6 Responses

  1. I missed a holiday or two by spending the entire time in the kitchen. I am sure that your family appreciated your efforts!

  2. It looks like you had a great Christmas! All those sweets look so awesome!

  3. I am impressed with your baking abilities. Great to have a big kitchen and a bunch of ingredients. Enjoy the holidays!

  4. Very nice post thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow – that’s a lot of kitchen time! I’ve done one or two of those myself and found myself making the same vow. It’s nice to get the kudos for a great meal, but not worth the time you missed relaxing with your family. I’m all for the stress-free holiday! That said, I loved the sound of some of your side dish recipes – especially the bleu cheese au gratin potatoes and the roasted brussels sprouts!

  6. Very savory cookies. Great!

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