O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, o night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
Mahalia Jackson or Nat King Cole singing that carol are pure Christmas spirit and everything wonderful I feel about Christmas. Growing up, December 1st always meant the arrival of Mom’s stack of Christmas albums; the Advent wreath, a stiff wire form covered in fresh greens, red berries, and ribbons, topped with four candles – three purple and one pink; and the Advent calendar tacked to the kitchen door to the basement. The season had arrived and cookies were not far behind!
Another fabulous family cook pops out of the woodwork of our wacky family tree! Uncle Frank is the husband of my mother’s younger sister, Dot. He is a retired DC fireman, father of 10, currently a custom home builder, and (most important for our purposes here) a very good cook. Lucky us! Breakfasts at the Principe house would put an IHOP buffet – should an IHOP buffet serve Rapa brand scrapple – to shame… and that’s just on your standard Wednesday. Breakfast not your thing? Pfft! If you need a soup, Uncle Frank’s your man. Other than one unfortunate incident where he went all not-in-a-good-way-free-form on a pot of pasta fazool (yes, I do have the memory of an elephant … a bizarre elephant but an elephant nonetheless), that man can toss things into a pot and come up with the most delicious combinations.
Every Spring I look forward to two things of the verdant variety. First is planting my pot garden (that still amuses me; for the easily scandalized among us, I am referring to my vegetable container garden) and the second, more reliable, is strawberry season. I start trolling the pick-your-own farm websites at the beginning of May and then give a week or two to clear out the scary die-hard pickers (those folks that come in with their own containers, jam and jelly on their minds, and a sense of territory that would put a pit bull to shame).
It’s that time of year again when any meal sounds so much more appealing coming off of the grill. Mingling with the scent of a fresh-mown lawn and newly turned mulch, nothing goes better with a post-yard work beer than something off the grill. I say this almost selfishly gleefully since I am generally not she who mans the grill. That being said, I do sometimes like to play with fire – a family trait so I hear – and this chicken recipe is my go-to favorite.
Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe