When I was in kindergarten, my mother married George Mitchell David. My first memory of him was of a very tall, dark-haired man wearing a trench coat with pockets full of Juicy Fruit gum and Mary Jane candies which he happily doled out to this wee holder of boring suspicious eyes. He was a wonderful man who not only stepped into the very difficult position of stepfather to two young children but also folded us into his very large, very close Lebanese family.
George’s® Bloody Mary Mix is, hands down, the most fabulicious Bloody Mary you will every taste from a mix (and, I’d venture to say, beats quite a few bartender versions as well). While I’m quite content to slurp it down as a Bloody Mary with a right proper dose of vodka, George’s® actually works well in recipes like my ham and cheese stuffed meatloaf, soups, and stews so why not a warm, gooey cheesy monkey bread.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Al Gore hadn’t quite perfected his internet invention, a person needed cookbooks if she wanted to whip up a nice little something to eat. If a person also happened to be of a frugal mind, she might have joined one of those ten-books-for-a-penny deals which hooked her in for a year’s worth of headaches and monthly book shipments of unwanted reading materials (aka wow, they really will publish anything) which took many phone calls and returned shipments to finally end… You know that old adage “if if seems too good to be true, it probably is”? It is correct. That little gray cloud of an experiment had a silver lining though: Ten cookbooks to get my food fix a’going. Among my bargain bonanza was The Bread Book by Betsy Oppenneer (Harper Collins 1994).
That’s all you’ve got to say and they come running. Few things make me as content in the kitchen as making pizza. It’s a slow-down, wine-in-hand, stop-and-smell-the-pepperoni, family-absorbing time. I putter around making dough and sauces, cutting up, and sauteeing… it can take as little as half-an-hour to prep or upwards of half a day, depending on my mood. Both can turn out faboo pies and attract wayward family members from the far corners.
It’s been 148 years since I’ve had any desire to go out on the eve of the new year. The combination of amateur hour, price-gouging, over-crowded rooms and bad food, not to mention the elusive NYE babysitter, have made staying in not only the better option but something I look forward to. We get to visit another country (and this year have the added bonus of visiting an alternate world of witches and wizards) without leaving the house. The end of 2013 saw BD, the fellas and I visiting Spain in the company of Harry Potter and gang.
Growing up, Christmas Eve was a crazy day. Much like a regiment on the move, we were put through the paces: Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning… followed by more cleaning! Then just when you were convinced all the work had surely squared things with Santa, it would all just stop. Magic! The late afternoon saw showers for all, a single gift opened which was generally a new outfit for church, the now infamous potato soup dinner, and then off to Christmas Mass. Returning home, we’d get in our pajamas, hang our stockings and be sent looking for sugarplums for the night.