Hello, pumpkins and petits chous everywhere. It’s the holiday season edition of the LCF Update 12-22-17. Around here that means:

  1. The Oscar Peterson Christmas album
  2. At least one really bad cold (thankfully, on the exit ramp)
  3. One road trip to the west side of the state to see Steve’s family
  4. Some head scratching because, while I feel the need to have something a little special for Christmas day dinner, I really don’t want to do another turkey. We don’t eat ham or rack of lamb, not in the mood for a big old fish, chicken seems kinda like a lame version of turkey. So what do we do?

Well, here, one by one are the solutions to each problem.

  1. There’s Oscar! Best Xmas album EVER. Spotify him, buy the CD, I don’t care. Just listen.

2. Doesn’t it just suck to be sick? Although, I have to say, I don’t mind having a couple of days to just veg out, read a fair amount (until I get a headache), watch stuff on Netflix (until I get a headache), and drink Theraflu. I don’t have good sick recipes at the moment, bc I feel like you should just eat what you want. I mean, I know there are things that make you feel worse and some that make you feel better, but you know them too. So you know, just take care of yourself.

3. Road food! This is our traveling bowl salad go-to, the Harvest Squash and Quinoa Salad jar from Clean Eating. But here’s the thing: While those jar salads look really awesome, they don’t strike me as being particularly practical. You pack the jar full, so when you shake it, it doesn’t really mix. And also, how the hell do you eat out of a jar? So we layer everything in a bowl, toss it when we’re there, and it’s a big woot. I’ll have details soon.

LCF update 12-22-17 jar salad

It’s kind of a big deal to me to keep the nuts separate, btw. So I keep ’em in a handy separate pouch, and they’re nice and crunchy when we add them before we eat. And you know, now you don’t have to settle for something inadequate that somebody made from a bunch of ingredients handed over by corporate.

Also, for a recent trip to Austin, TX—super cool city!—I made these, from a Bon Appetit article with the genius title “Snacks on a Plane.” As plane food, this snack ROCKS.

LCF Update 12-22-17 plane snack
Photo from Bon Appetit Magazine.

Meanwhile, if you do need snacks on a plane, just search “plane food” at Bon Appetit. Inspirations galore.

4. OK, what do we serve? I landed on a Christmas morning brunch of my son’s all-time fave breakfast, biscuits with sausage and gravy, for which you really don’t need a recipe; just saute onions and peppers and pork sausage, add some flour, add some kinda milk (but not, for heck’s sake, the vanilla flavored almond), and plenty of pepper. With a big old breakfast like that, I’m thinking an hors d’oeuvres-y dinner will be just the thing. I found this spinach artichoke dip at Rachael Ray, maybe with some sweet potato waffles, good old kale salad, and a tiramisu for Steve because he loves that stuff. I love it as long as it’s the pudding kind and not the one with lady fingers, because I just am not a sponge cake fan. Here’s a tiramisu recipe I can live with from dear old Martha.

LCF Update 12-22-1 Our Christmas Dessert
Photo from Martha Stewart Living Magazine, photographer: Ngoc Minh Ngo

LCF Update 12-22-17: Reading

I have encountered no more wonderful reading for the season than Jeanette Winterson’s Christmas Tales: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days. There are many Winterson fans out there including myself, but I was still unprepared for the beauty, simplicity ,and wonder that she brings to stories that in other hands would have carelessly turned to treacle. “The Snowmama” and “Christmas Cracker” are good old-fashioned fairy tales with just a smidge of darkness to provide the sweetness the proper depth. “Christmas in New York” and “O’Brien’s First Christmas” provide humbugs—who are really just tired and sad—with lovely, unforced avenues out of their disbelief and grouchdom. There are marvelous ghost stories, because winter can be a little creepy, sometimes deliciously so. And there are recipes. Winterson cooks in a way that warms my heart, using phrases like “a good amount” and “until it’s done.” Finally, there are her graceful and brave autobiographical insights into miracles, religion, belief, and other subjects. An absolutely lovely, wonderful gift for anyone you know.

LCF update 12-22-17 perfect Christmas gift

LCF Update 12-22-17: Watching

If you want a rollicking good time that’s not necessarily seasonal, PLEASE watch Wild Tales, Damián Szifron’s compilation of 6 short movies, all focused on some type of revenge carried out to my-face-hurts-from-roaring-with-laughter extremes. The movie starts with a huge bang, then paces itself well over an additional 4 stories, ending in the Greatest Wedding Ever Committed to Film. My son proclaimed to me not long ago, “I’m a filmmaker”—a justified proclamation as he just completed two students films in a week where he was sick and the weather was awful. We watched it together and he loved it as much I do. It’s not on Netflix. Henry asked me to buy it for him.

LCF Update 12-217
The sublime Erica Rivas in Wild Tales.

Feliz Navidad, from the bottom of my heart, my dear friends. Celebrate Big!