First, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Last year at this time, I was really just happy to be out of the hospital. All the food tasted like metal because of the antibiotics, but I was home with Jon. This year, I feel pretty happy to just be home with Jon, but there is the bonus that food tastes like food and I have the energy to cook it. I even had a chance to have what I consider a holiday delicacy – coffee lightened with carnation milk. It's something my mother used to do to use up the can of condensed milk opened to make a sweet potato pie. It lends a sweet richness to the coffee and always makes me think of this time of year. It's like having coffee with Mom. The full year's wrap up will be for next week. Right now, I'm focused on being a pretty happy camper with a fridge full of yumminess.
Swiss Chard in My Collards
The reports of rain in Southern California were not exaggerated. The rain was heavy and constant and the temperature was very cool. In short, it wasn't the sort of weather where I could go schlepping about for groceries. Thus, I did much of the food shopping through Jon via remote control. Not that I could control his every move in the market via a remote control. Wouldn't that be something? No, I just gave him a detailed list and we had the cell phone. Overall, the Hubs did really well. But produce is sometimes overlapping in the market. And so, I had Swiss Chard for the first time. Mind, it was mixed in with my collards and prepared in my usual fashion (sauteed onions and garlic, add chicken or turkey stock along with smoked turkey pieces and cooked for a half an hour before adding thinly sliced greens and cooking until tender). The Chard added a sweetness to the collards that was very nice. It was a happy accident. Now, I'm looking for recipes to try the vegetable on its own.
Speaking of recipes and cooking, the Santas in my life gave me gifts were almost all related to food or cooking. I'm very excited about all of the possibilities and hardly know where to begin. There are cookbooks, of course, for new inspirations. One is the gigantic Culinaria Germany. I think it may have every recipe in the whole country in the book. Though I talk a lot about French food, I'm also a fan of German eats. Our family's favorite bakery and deli were run by Germans. I had a lot of exposure to the cuisine, and there is a lot I like about it. I'm looking forward to delving into this cookbook. And then, there is Ina Garten's How Easy is That? I already have a binder full of her recipes from seasons of her show, but I was coveting this book as it is also full of tips to make cooking even easier. I know I'm strange. I do plan to make my own puff pastry and croissants, and I'm looking for simplified recipes. I'm the same in the types of reading I do or television I watch. I enjoy a dense, highly literary read or what Jon calls advanced movie watching. But I still love an easy romance novel or a B movie that a critic might deem dopey. I like varying degrees of difficulty in all of my pursuits. In is a joy to read, because her writing sounds like her speaking. And she has this way of making anything sound doable. Of course, all of this new cooking will have to wait until we eat the fridge full of leftovers. I may not have mentioned it before, but I can't seem to cook just for two at the holidays. We've got food for a party of six for some time to come. But back to the goodies. One of my Santas gave me a very generous gift certificate to F. Oliver's, a purveyor of fine olive oils and vinegars. I oped for a gift pack with three flavored oils and the 18 year old Balsamic vinegar. I highly recommend ordering from them if you can't get to their shop. They ship so very quickly and package so very carefully that their products can go anywhere. I plan to use them for my New Year's Eve spread. I'm so excited about those. Among the many cool things the Hubs got me is a collection of gourmet salts. I've never used anything other than kosher or table salt to cook with, and I've never used a 'finishing salt.' I like this gift pack because it gives me quantities that I can really experiment with and figure out if buying more is worth the expense. And not to leave anyone out, I received two handmade gifts that I will cherish. Chem makes me terribly sensitive to cold, and two lovely ladies have knitted me gifts to ward off the chill. They are really beautiful and I am ever so grateful that they took the time and effort. Overall, I'm really giddy about all my lovely prezzies.
The novel writing is coming along slowly. I won't be able to predict a release date until after my last chemo round in February. All the actors in the various web series are ready and willing when we're able. Estimates on that will have to wait until February as well. There is work on the projects happening without me but not very much. Meanwhile, the deals for the features are going through their paces at full steam. We should be hearing something on those in the next week or so.