In the time-honored spirit of excessive winter holidays, I made a killer brunch on Christmas day. It was delightfully over the top. Of course, if we ate like that every day it would kill us. On Christmas we throw caution to the wind. Depending on your beliefs, this is a time for joy and celebration in hopes of welcoming the sun or son. I'm a firm believer that to bring back the light, we must eat and drink with abandon and without regard for things like fat, salt, weight gain, or cirrhosis of the liver on this one magical day of the year.
We feast on biscuits with sausage gravy, and potato and cheddar cheese frittata with a variety of salsas. There is citrus salad, sliced avocado, a bloody Mary or two, and the King of Food, bacon and plenty of it. In years gone by, I slaved at the stove frying up strips of bacon. The popping and spitting bacon grease ruined many a Christmas sweatshirt, and the house would smell of bacon for days. That is not a bad smell, bacon; but it gets old.
In recent years I have seen recipes for baking bacon in the oven to avoid the mess. This year I thought I would give it a try. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, lined a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil folded up all around the edges to catch the grease. I put baking racks on top of the foil and carefully placed bacon to ensure I used up every single blessed strip. I loosely laid a piece of foil on top to keep my oven clear of splatter, and then baked it for about 25 minutes. The recipe said 10 - 20 minutes, but I was nervous so I let it go a little too long.
It was good, although not as greasy or succulent as fried bacon. How long you bake it determines how crisp it gets. I left mine in long enough that it practically disintegrated in your mouth. The pieces broke when you tried to pick them up. There wasn't any leftover so I am assuming it was good enough, but next time I'll shoot for 20 minutes.
|Fried, not baked: better|
I can't help but notice Christmas brings out the best in people. So, why can't that last?
During weeks leading up to this holiday, color-blind donations are made to give poor children Santa presents and warm clothes. Food drives are conducted by churches and civic organizations. Everyday people fill boxes to distribute to families less fortunate than themselves. Then comes the New Year and we revert to our selfish, hateful, fearful selves. Doesn't that seem odd?
Shouldn't we be good and do good every day? Holiday generosity could easily translate into supporting social programs providing food and healthcare for children each day of the year. Hey, let's support job training programs that provide real skills to their parents while we are at it.
Geez-o-Pete, we could love our neighbors regardless of color, religion, country of origin, or who they choose to kiss under the mistletoe. We could even celebrate differences because they are so damn interesting. The recipients of our kindness wouldn't even need to be citizens. This love stuff is crazy! Once unleashed, who knows where it might end? Love may be a Bizzaro World Pandora's box.
I'm neither perfect nor a Christian; however, I have always liked Jesus for the radical social justice superhero he was. It seems like some of his followers don't take his teachings all that seriously. Why is it that Buddha and Krishna had better luck with their followers actually following through with the whole love thing? This makes me wonder where Christianity went wrong. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.
And extra points for anyone willing to point the finger (not the middle one) at St. Paul.
We recently visited Louisville, Kentucky. There is a lot to see and hear about horses and the Derby; however, Louisville is all about bourbon. It seemed every restaurant had an extensive bourbon list. Distillery advertisements abound. This made me want bourbon with all my heart. What could I do?
We were happy (and fortunate) to attend an event at the Pendennis Club, a lush private gentleman's club which is apparently the birthplace of the Old Fashioned. I also had a bourbon based slushy at a fantastic barbeque joint downtown. I drank a variety of bourbon infused drinks at the trendy 8UP restaurant overlooking the city late one night. Okay, maybe two nights.
We were intrigued by tales of the elusive Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 year-old bourbon that sells for a small fortune, if you can find it. It's all very hush hush and on the down-low, a brilliant marketing strategy. The distillery making Pappy Van Winkle only releases stock once a year. Small-batch, indeed! In fact, this is what they say on their web site about finding it:
"We know our whiskey can be difficult to find, so our advice is to ask
retailers in your area if they expect to receive stock, and if so, how
they plan to sell it. Many retailers use a lottery or a waiting list to
sell our stock. We recommend you get on as many waiting lists and enter
as many lotteries as you can.
We visited a candy store (Art Edibles) featuring small-batch bourbon truffles made by the first and only bourbon-certified chocolatier in the world. The salesperson gave us each a free Old Forester truffle to eat and then talked us through the resulting taste sensations as if we were embarking on a guided imagery meditation. It was transcendent. I may never be the same.
Best of luck!"
We went to the Old Forester Distillery one afternoon for a tour. An image now burned into my brain is of a vast vat of fermenting whiskey, steamy hot of its own volition and bubbling away as it worked magic unto itself. It lives.
The other night, while driving our 6 year old grandson home, we made up silly and a slightly naughty lyrics to Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. For instance, "Comet" became "Vomit," "Cupid" became "Stupid," and Rudolph became the "Snot Nosed Reindeer." We pulled out all the stops, using as many gross terms we could imagine to make a 6 year old boy laugh out loud. When Grandpa substituted Shitzen for Blitzen, I thought little N would bust a gut. Good times!
I don't remember my grandparents doing things like this. I fear I am a bad influence. I always knew I was with my friends, but I figured I'd outgrow it long before I became a grandmother. Guess not.