"Life can be hard.
Life can be challenging.
Life is also precarious.
And ultimately fleeting.
Life is also be full of beauty, and wonder, and grace, and love. And it is up to us to witness it... or not.
So as we sit down to this meal together again - after a year of ups and downs (like most years, I'd say),
I simply ask that you make the choice to be here, now. To be present to each bite, each laugh, each moment. To try just for a short while to let go of everything else - stress, anxiety, worry - and to be here, and experience this meal and the joy of each others company. The beauty is here- right here, right now. The least we can do is try to be here, too.
Cheers to right NOW! To good food, great wine, and family! Let's eat!"
This is the toast I gave last night, for Christmas dinner:
Life can be....oh my fucking GOD, I'm going to cry! Shit. Shit. I'm crying. Okay, okay, okay (my 3-year old niece, Lily, is having a meltdown stage left and screaming) -oh, come here Lily, give this toast with me... (picking Lily up, now holding Lily AND a glass of champagne)....
Okay, so life can be hard. But life is also full of.... (cry, clear throat, sniff, sniff)... so you guys know life is hard, duh, okay - I'm sorry, am I being too emotional? Oh my GOD.. okay, so I wanted to quote Annie Dillard - to paraphrase her - that beauty and grace are performed whether we will or sense them - the least we can do is try to be there - (sniff...) I just really love you guys, so here's to being here, you know....now.... I love you all.... (tears....Now I sit down awkwardly with Lily in my lap, who proceeds to have another meltdown, weeping "where MY dinner....")
Geez. Christmas making me all nostalgic and grateful and emotional and shit. Whoa. =)
Sunday, December 23, 4pm
Cocktail hour (4-6pm)
- Candy cane cocktail (vanilla vodka, white chocolate liquor, peppermint schnapps)
- Cheese board
- Linda McCartney's Green Herb dip with crudités
- Confit of pork belly (form Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home)
- Broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes (Ad Hoc at Home)
- Scotch or bourbon over smoked ice (Bruce made the ice from Bon Appetit you can read about here!)
|The roast BEFORE going in the oven...|
- Standing rib roast (4 ribs/10 pounds). *Salted, left uncovered in refrigerator overnight. Brought to room temperature for two hours, cooked low and slow at 200 degrees for about 4.5 hours to a perfect medium rare - about 125 degrees. Rested 1.5 hours. Blasted at 500 degrees for 10 minutes before carving for perfect golden, salty crispy crust. I don't feel like I can take credit for how well this roast turned out. It was the best I think we've ever had, and I think it was because the meat from Fresh Market was really high quality.
- Horseradish cream (Ad Hoc at Home) *This was SO much better than the sour cream version I usually make. It's so worth it to seek out the Sherry vinegar and whip it up yourself. Best new addition (other than pork belly, of course!)
- Yorkshire pudding *This was my first year making it gluten free and even the non-gluten free folks liked it better than last year!
- Mashed potatoes (Pioneer Woman) *If you make these the night before just note that they take longer to heat through than she says,even if you do bring them to room temperature for 3 hours - word to the wise! This threw my timing off big time. We were supposed to eat at 7pm. Luckily the combination of the pork belly to start and Bruce distracting everyone with his magical smoked ice saved the day!
- Brussels sprouts two ways: whole roasted (Ina Garten) and shredded sauteed with pecans and cranberries (Alton Brown)
- Caramelized creamed pearl onions (Tyler Florence)
- Sweet potato biscuits with marshmallows (Smitten Kitchen) *Also gluten free, and also an enormous hit with the non-gluten free folks!
- Wine (I chose a cabernet sauvignon to pair with the meat) or beer (my dad is allergic to wine!).
- Glogg with almonds and raisins *a gift from Christi's mom, Tina, who was with us last year! We missed you!
- Flourless chocolate cake with ice cream and raspberries
Yes, this was an EVENT, to be sure. Exhausting. Thrilling. Relatively successful. I think my mom would have been proud. =)