Where have I been? It’s been a while since I posted, but we have packed a boatload of activity into the last several weeks.
We had a wonderful Christmas Eve at the S house, and the gifts of coolers and double pie baskets were well-received (E claimed that hers will unlikely ever see a pie). For the first time, the girl’s baskets were significantly different, filled with little things off their wish lists. Dinner was a fabulous collaboration, although it turned into the Feast of the Six Fishes when we skipped the bucatini with clams because we had already had oysters, truffled custard with mahi-mahi, mussels steamed in Belgian beer, herb salad with crab, avocado and grapefruit, and smoked fish chowder with scallops, AND we still had the whole salt-baked red snapper.
We joined E and M at M’s parent’s house for Christmas Day and ate from a wonderful spread prepared my M’s mother that included roast beef, roast pork, ham, dumplings, sauerkraut and a jello mold that E proclaimed was better than mine because it didn’t “contain pieces.”
Dec 26, we attended a party with some of my cousins that I haven’t seen in years. I brought along a clip of a movie from Christmas 1954 that I had converted to digital that was good for a few laughs. We Skyped with my cousin George in Australia (the star of the movie), and I got to meet my cousin’s youngest son who is now working for Lagunitas brewery in Chicago (file under good people to know).
Dec 29, we left to drive down to Atlanta to visit some friends. We made a stop at The Tamale Place in Indianapolis on the advice of my brother, and were not disappointed. The spicy pork verde tamale and the elotes were worth the trip. We made it to Elizabethtown, KY in time to watch the Bears lose from our hotel room, then completed the trip the next day. We had all agreed that New Years Eve would be spent noshing on a series of appetizers and watching holiday movies (Side note: I had never before watched Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story start to finish). Our friends B and C are transplanted Chicagoans, and we arrived bearing 6 jars of hot giardiniera (unavailable in Atlanta). B loves Italian beef, so C and I found a recipe and we made Italian beef sandwiches that were pretty close to authentic that we had on New Years Day while watching football.
Jan 2, we drove straight through from Atlanta to Cleveland. The drive through the Appalachians was rainy and gloomy, but once we got into Ohio, the snow started. The last 40 miles were over snow-packed roads. We were in the car for over 12 hours - not sure we would do that again. However, once there, we were greeted with hot soup, crusty bread, and big glasses of wine. After a good night’s sleep, it was off to the West Side Market for veal shanks for that night’s osso buco. It was so much fun to cook with P, an amazing Italian cook. We visited the Museum of Contemporary Art, and had a wonderful, laugh-filled dinner at L’Albatros that involved a little bit of broken glass (thankfully not the lovely bottle of St Emilion).
Jan 5, we headed for home, right into the storm that hit Chicago. We had said that if it got too bad, we would get a hotel room and wait to finish the drive. The Indiana toll road was horrible; the plows couldn’t keep up with the snow and the wind that blew the snow right back onto the road. We were about 30 miles from home when the tollroad came to a complete stop. There was a slight grade that semis were unable to climb, and it was an hour to get around them. I’m glad we did stop, because the road was closed for 2 days after that. We finally made it almost home, when I got stuck in the alley. Thirty minutes later, I unclenched my hands from the steering wheel (I get to drive the bad parts because I curse less than L). E and M had come down to the house during the day and cleared the snow (thanks, kids!).
Jan 8, we went to the Blackhawks game. They lost, but it was a good game, and fun to be there.
It was a wonderful (extended) holiday season, filled with family and friends, lots of wine, great food and good times. Maybe next time, we’ll fly.