Thursday, January 22, 2009

Christmas Rewind

Christmas was kind of hectic this year – I was in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for most of my winter break, and I drove down to my parents’ house in Maryland a few days before Christmas. My cousin Ollie, from London, came to see us, on a side trip from New York where he was with some of his friends. We cooked a monstrous Christmas dinner for him, and Ollie was pretty impressed. He said his family doesn’t usually make much of a Christmas feast – he’s a cousin on my mom’s side, so no big turkey dinners factor into his Chinese Christmas celebrations. So we made a turkey (we usually only have turkey on Thanksgiving, but it was a treat for him) and a lamb roast. I can only take credit for the turkey and mashed potatoes – my sister Laurel made the majority of the rest of the meal, including the lamb, a homemade mint and yogurt sauce, and roasted fingerling potatoes. Yum. (I did make the gravy, though – and corrected the salt problem from my Thanksgiving gravy mishap.)

Here's my brother Sean carving the turkey. I bought a small one, since we were also having lamb:
That's a roasted carrot underneath the bottom of the turkey there, that got dragged along from the roasting pan. It's not a shriveled up hot dog.

Anyway, Eric joined us on December 26, after celebrating with both his mom’s and dad’s sides of his family. I wish I could have joined them, but since my parents were back in the States for the first time since March (Mom) and in over a year (Dad), I preferred to be at home. The result, though, was that I missed out on exchanging presents with Eric’s families, and when he brought my presents from his family down to Maryland, I opened them, but it was in the midst of lots of stuff going on at home, and a few days later, I packed everything right back up again. By New Year's, when I got a mysterious 24-hour mini-flu, I had pretty much forgotten about Christmas, and by the time I drove back to Louisville, which involved having a mini car breakdown -- twice -- and dove right back into work, I had completely forgotten about Christmas. Four weeks later and I STILL haven't unpacked; this is the pile of unpacked-but-not-yet-put-away and freshly-laundered-but-not-yet-put-away clothes that is currently blocking my dresser:

And yes, I just had all of Sunday afternoon, Monday afternoon, and all of Tuesday off, and no, I didn’t touch that pile at all. I’ll get around to it… sometime soon. Or else it will miraculously become spring and I can just put it all into storage :)

Anyway, amidst all that mess, I just got around to unpacking the other stuff I brought home, like Christmas presents. And I remembered the coolest present I got this year.

It’s a booklet of Christmas cookie recipes from Eric's family. His cousin Kara put it together for me. On the front she wrote about her fond memories of eating their grandmother’s Christmas cookies, and inside she included her favorites, “some originals and others as close as I could find.”

Inside are cookie recipes from three generations of women in Eric’s family, from his great-grandmother, to his grandmother, to his aunt (Kara’s mom).

The cover (Eric's grandmother was known as "Mom-Mom"):

Butter Cookies, from Eric's great-grandmother:The recipe calls for 1 cup of oleo; I didn't know that was a real thing, other than in crossword puzzles!

Candy Cane Cookies, from Eric's grandmother:

Peanut Butter Blossoms, from Eric's Aunt Joyce:

What a wonderful way to be welcomed into Eric's family! (Not that I haven’t felt welcomed before; on the contrary, I’ve felt like family for many years now!) I’m just sorry I didn’t get to try these recipes out this year. But next Christmas is going to be full of cookie baking, I suspect!

I joked to Eric that it was a shame we didn’t get any presents from our registry for Christmas, but honestly, these kinds of presents are better than any stand mixer, pots, or new camera.* They come from the heart.

Were family secrets -- recipes or otherwise -- shared with you when you joined your fiance's family?

*Seriously, though, we are in dire need of a new camera; the LCD screen on our current one goes in and out, and with it, our ability to take pictures. These took me three tries!