Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Run-down

Christmas means it is time to pull out the special china, which I've been gathering for only about four or five years now.  I bought some dinner plates in the Lenox Holiday pattern at an after-Christmas sale and I was hooked.  I've accumulated service for 12, a large number of serving pieces, and matching linen. I've even acquired matching flatware. It makes for a very festive table.  If we have an earthquake, I'm screwed.
We spent Christmas day, as we usually do, with our friends Karen Bodner and Michael Olecki (that's Michael in the photograph.)  Karen's a recovering attorney who plans to open a bakery when they move to Three Rivers, up near Kings-Sequoia National Park.  She went through the baker's training program at L.A. Trade Tech and currently bakes to special order or for special events.  For Christmas, she made us sticky buns (in the foreground of the photo below, with Len, Karen, and my son Michael.)  Quite yummy, and indicative of her Philadelphia origins.
Karen and Michael used to hold a party on Christmas Eve called vigilia, which is the Polish version of the Italian  Feast of Seven Fishes.  Except that the Poles prepare 11 or 13 fish dishes. They haven't done it recently, but we used to get the left-overs for our Christmas brunch.  This year, Karen brought poached salmon, cold shrimp and smoked salmon for brunch so we wouldn't feel deprived (I did miss the traditional pierogies, but I understand why she didn't make them.)  We made mimosas with proseco while Len made eggs and bacon.

It had been so long since Len used the coffee maker, he forgot to put a filter in the basket.  This was NOT a good idea.  It is very difficult to clean a coffee maker which has been so abused.  And it made a real mess on the counter and the floor.  Do not try this at home.

In other disasters, the refrigerator (behind Karen in the photo) betrayed us once again on Christmas Eve.  The motor in the fridge stopped working and I lost a lot of food.  Thus far, the freezer is still functioning but the insurance people have not returned our calls.  This is the fifth time in four months the motor has stopped functioning.  I hope they will agree to replace it.  I'm not sure how I'll be able to handle food for the party, because I doubt it can be replaced by then.  The repair guy who came the first time said "you've got great appliances--except for that refriderator."  No kidding.  I'm looking for recommendations.

My favorite Christmas gifts included the ones which are helping to rebuild my cookbook collection.  I got several of the books I requested (I love the "Wish List" feature on Amazon.com), including Bon Appetit Desserts, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and The Arabian Nights Cookbook. There's a brownie recipe in Desserts which incorporates pieces of toffee.  I remember getting it out of the magazine when Michael was really little and taking it to my chocoholic friends Michael Whelan and Audrey Price as a gift.  I think they've tinkered with it, but I can't wait to try it again.  Or I'll let Michael give it a try for Saturday.

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