Saturday, December 29, 2018

Turkey Soup

You know Christmas is winding down when the turkey carcass goes into the stock pot. 

It has been quiet around here since Christmas Day evening. We have had time to catch up on sleep, as I try to defeat the effects of insomnia. We have been reading and watching TV and finding some movies On Demand to watch. We are picky about our movies, so we reject most of the stuff, but I have a list to fill those evenings before our regular programming returns.  

I have spent very little time following the news over the holiday. If something breaks ("Breaking News!") I'll give it a listen. The claims of the Liar in Chief are never ending.  

We do have football to watch. Our WSU Cougars won the Alamo Bowl last night. The Seahawks play on Sunday afternoon, and our UW Huskies are in the Rose Bowl on New Years Day. 

We did actually work outside for over an hour on the 26th, planting some bulbs. Tom bought them on sale in November and they had been sitting on the workbench ever since. We also clipped the old foliage of the hellebores, since the new flower buds are popping up.

The rain has returned again now, a good day to make soup. Since we hosted Christmas Eve dinner, we got the leftovers, which we have been enjoying ever since. I always make lots of extra stuffing and gravy to go with left over turkey. Now even the last bit of cranberry sauce is gone. 

We have been eating too many cookies also, and gaining weight, so today I consolidated all that were left, and put most of them back in the freezer. I'll take a bunch of them over to the kids when they get back from their vacation in Cozumel, Mexico. They are in sunshine. 

The turkey is in the pot.

After it simmers a while, I'll strain it and let it cool and pick the rest of the meat off the bones. I'll add vegetables and noodles and put the meat back in, and we'll have soup for dinner for days to come. 

It's great to have to do very little cooking for a while now, and no, we don't get tired of turkey.

And the house smells like Christmas again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Tree Fell Down, and Other Tales: A Reeder Christmas in Review

Christmas Eve morning was calm at the Reeder homestead. Good thing, because the rest of it wasn't.  The table was set well ahead of time.

Charlie the borrowed cat checked in, peeking around the door frame, asking for goodies. She was rewarded. How could you not.
Thinking dinner was at 5:00, (it was set for 5:30), Jill and her tribe arrived about lunch time, without lunch, in a hurry to get the duck cooked.  I scrambled and they were provided for.

Tom stuffed the turkey and got it going on the charcoal grill.

Mid afternoon we put out appetizers. Jake had arrived and announced that he was hungry. Jan showed up too. I put Isaac and Irene to work assembling lefsa.

 Then things got really busy, preparing the duck for roasting (Isaac had decided he needed to try duck), peeling and dicing and otherwise preparing for cooking the big meal. 

It more or less came together about 5:30, with a bit of a delay for the carvers to finish their tasks. Tom advised Isaac on the carving of the duck, which of course Isaac gamely did, but based on no experience. 
 We all got all of it, and ourselves, to the table, and toasted ourselves for our good work, and "Merry Christmas"!

There were cookies, of course. 
Irene and I watched "Christmas on Sesame Street" (we love the music) while the rest put up with us and talked over it. Jill, the kids, and Jake all dispersed into the night.  Jan helped Tom load up the mini-van to haul all of our gifts over to Jill's house while the kids pretended to be asleep, thus preserving the belief in Santa. However, before we could leave, we got a text from Jill, something about a discussion in the car involving Big Bird, Santa, and Jesus. The upshot was we didn't have to be made to do all of that work late at night just to preserve something that didn't have to be sustained with such effort when it could all be ascribed to the magic of Christmas. Belief is in the believing, not the seeing. Thank you, Isaac. I think he also realized we are getting old. :-/

Christmas morning we three wise ones followed the star. 
Then we hauled the sleigh full of gifts to their destination, where everyone was still sleeping.

We didn't find Jill's text with photo until the morning, but when we did, we were prepared. Jill and the kids had a late night. The kids were in bed and Jill was stuffing gifts under the tree, when the tree must have groaned "No more", snapped off its stand, and came tumbling over. Jill sort of caught it, preventing disaster and resulting in  only one headless peacock ornament.  Wondering what to do and supporting a heavy tree, she called for back up. She and the kids finally decided to remove a few ornaments, lay the tree on its side, where it already was, put the angel on top, and call it a hedge.
We opened stocking after we got them stuffed and Jake arrived. They were well stuffed.

Brunch was prepared. Irene decorated the cardamom bread while Jill and I fixed the eggs and sausage and fresh fruit. 

Then we took our time, one at a time, opening a pile of gifts, enjoying the giving and the receiving. 

 Jill and kids are heading for a Mexican resort vacation tomorrow. Luggage was needed
 The gift givers, that's all of us, were very generous, and the receivers, that's all of us too, were very appreciative. Of course there were stories and explanations along the way. Very entertaining.

Of course there was more food later in the day, a "light" meal of steak, shrimp, and salmon (something for everyone) and salad.
And more cookies, and more talking, and a bit of napping, and just a good time.

Tom and I came home about 7:00, unloaded all of our new acquisitions, and then settled into our chairs to watch "Call the Midwives", always a happy ending,  and unwind, while also checking in on Facebook to see what friends and family had posted about their Christmas day. Keeping up with everyone across the miles is fun too. 

And there you have it, the 2018 Reeder Family Christmas. 

Today is Boxing Day. Are up boxing up, emptying boxes, or just collecting, storing or recycling boxes?

We have plenty of Amazon boxes to use again next year. :-)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Baking Again

It has been decided that we, the family, are having Christmas dinner here at the homestead on Christmas Eve, in order to make Christmas Day be more relaxed. Christmas Day will still be at Jill's house, where the kids live. That's how we do it.

Therefore I had to get a head start on some of the preparations. Today I made the cardamom bread that we traditionally have for Christmas morning.

Once again I was throwing flour around my kitchen.
The mixer does a lot of the work.
Then it's time to get my hands messy. I just knead to.
 Aha! It all came together nicely. Time to let the dough rise and I get to sit down. 
 Good, now punch the dough down, divide it in half, and section out three ropes from one half.
 Braid them. Let's see, outside in, outside in. 
 Join the ends to make a circle. 

 I think this recipe came from Sunset Magazine, many years ago. 
 Now the wreath is baked and I made rolls from the other half, one pan for Christmas dinner, and one for the freezer. They'll get cooled, then wrapped, to be reheated when it's time. 

I also prepared all of the ingredients for the stuffing. They are cooling out and then they'll get combined and go into the refrigerator until tomorrow when it's time to stuff the turkey. 
Christmas is upon us! May yours be merry and bright, and full of the good things you like to eat. 

Merry Christmas! Or, Happy Holidays! I sure hope you are finding something to celebrate!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Solstice

For those of us living in the north lands of the northern hemisphere, today is a day to rejoice, not because it is the first day of winter, but because it is the first day of the return of the light. It is the original "reason for the season".

Miracle of miracles, it wasn't raining today. It has been a wild week around here, with destructive wind storms Tuesday and Thursday, and a violent tornado west of the sound that destroyed or damaged many homes where it touched down. We don't get tornadoes here. 

Since it is Friday, we went to our usual breakfast gathering, and were joined by a few non-regulars for a joyous gathering of nine. We kept our dear server Tally hopping. A few gifts were exchanged, and I distributed my cookie tins to our regular six.

Then a few of us progressed the party to Jeanne's house. She is also a former colleague who is now pretty much house bound. We brought her a little solstice party, she being of good Scandinavian stock and all. We brought lefse and fatigmand, and Jan brought salmon spread and other goodies. She got a tin of cookies too.

We had fun talking and carrying on about all sorts of things. It was 2:00 when we finished partying.  When we got home the sky was clear, and I really needed to move.  I have not been out for an exercise walk for over a month, but today I needed to go, to be outside, to get some of the low winter sun on my face, to make my body work the way I want it to.
 When Tom and I got back home, my Map Your Walk app read 1.94 miles.  It wasn't perfect, my back was still stiff, but nothing really hurt, and there was no buckling. Yay me!
 The sun was low in the sky as we walked in the park, and now, as I sit and type at 4:21, the sun has just set.
The rain and darkness may return tomorrow, but I had today! And each day there will be more light soon, and maybe even more walks.

I'm celebrating solstice. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hosting a Party

Hosting a holiday party is a lot of work, but it's worth it to see all of the happy faces of the guests and hear all of the lively chatter as old friends catch up with each other.

The McMicken Lunch Bunch was started 13 years ago when I retired from McMicken Heights Elementary School along with three other colleagues. We four began having monthly lunches together at local restaurants. As other McMicken teachers and aides retired, they asked to join us. We lost one of the original four, and another has health issues that cause infrequent participation, but on any given month, we have five to ten joining in for lunch somewhere. 

Somehow it fell on me to be the organizer, so that's what I do. And in December, if I feel up to it and the schedule permits, I host the lunch at my home.  I did this year, today in fact. As the email responses came in, I saw that it was going to be a big one! I think it might have something to do with the fact that I decorate, as you, dear readers, are aware. :-)

I cook some kind of hot dish, soup in the past, and this year, quiche. Others bring salads and rolls and desserts.

By 12:30 the house was full of ladies carrying on animated conversations.
 Tom knows most of these educator women and joins in when I am not keeping him busy being my "staff".  He is wonderful help. 
A few found a quiet spot to do some serious catching up. 

The kitchen counter, which I did not photograph ( I was busy), was full of salads and rolls. The dessert table was...., well, you can see!
And then we ate, and talked more, and ate more, and talked more. 

 I worked with all but one of these women at one time or another, and that one came the year I retired. These people have been friends for a long time. 
There were lots of hugs and thank you's as they slowly departed. I think they all had a good time. I was happy to have provided the opportunity for some holiday joy. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Cookie Baking, 2018

I don't know how long it will be before they are too old to do this, or I am, but for now the annual cookie cutter cookie bake is still a happening thing with the grands, and Jill too. Yes, Tom gets to play a little too, and I am always on a roll (out). 

This was 2008, in Fort Morgan, CO. 
 Gingerbread and sprinkles then too.
 The decorating was a bit less precise then, but just as intense. 
 Those cute aprons I made don't fit anymore, well, except for Jill's, but they were here this year anyway, just not worn. 

 We cut out and baked the gingerbread first, and let them cool while we cut out, decorated, and baked the lemon sugar cookies. Then we used royal icing to detail the gingerbread. 

 Here are the results. Sprinkles are plentiful. 
 Oops. Sideways again, so bend your neck. Ouch. . 

Tom was a huge help in the kitchen, especially with the continual clean up.

We started about 3:00, since it was early release Friday at their schools, and I managed to have dinner on the table for all of us by about 6:15. Yay, me. 

Another successful Christmas cookie bake is in the books. We have to wait to eat the cookies.