Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On the Morning of the Eve of Christmas Eve

(That's a silly post title, but yesterday Julia went around saying, "It's the eve of the eve of Christmas Eve!" Silly girl.)
Anywho, yesterday Adam and I drove to Goldsboro to pick up Peter and bring him home for Christmas. We got to eat lunch at Dee's Diner with him and Kara. For anyone desperate to know, yes, they are dating again. She's delightful and sweet.
Last night we all crashed in the living room after eating Adam's new recipe for pumpkin pecan pancakes. They are so good. Beau turns into a limp-rag version of a dog and snuggles into his daddy.
His eyes and whiskers look vaguely like a seal's.
I started knitting a Christmas scarf for Peter.
I woke this morning with an enthusiasm to cook fun, festive things! I was out of my chai, so I started a new batch on the back of the stove. Here you also see the cranberry relish (click for recipe) I keep on hand at all times (delicious with eggs and toast, but excellent on a turkey sandwich, and as a little side with pancakes). And I'm making applesauce.
The cranberry relish keeps in the frig in a Mason jar.
For making applesauce, I use a food mill, called by some a food ricer. I bought this in Iowa years ago.
People talk badly about Midwesterners sometimes, but let me tell you, those folks raised in the chilly plains have some golden traits! They work hard. They brave the elements with a grin. And the women clean and cook like no other women I've known. They preserve, can, or freeze anything edible. The food mill is a normal piece of kitchen equipment out there.
Meanwhile, the Christmas candles are burning and the Christmas music is playing in the kitchen.
Adam's mom sent us some of her famous caramels, in the dish in the photo below.
And for those who want a Jamberry nails update, here are my fingertips this morning. Still looking good! I think it's been six days?

Adam is no slouch this morning either. He woke with a great urge to make bread.
He's making me a cranberry/cinnamon breakfast bread.
This will be baguettes.
And this will be a healthy wheat loaf for an elderly couple who are coming home for Christmas from Greenville, where the wife is getting many weeks of cancer treatment.
Back to the applesauce. I realized that I was waiting for ideal apples before making applesauce -- local, organic apples that I could afford. Ha! That could preclude applesauce-making for years! So I bought apples at WalMart (I know, I know). I chose six Granny Smiths and six Jonagolds, for a nice blend of tart and sweet.
The wonder of using the food mill is this: you don't have to peel, core, or otherwise man-handle your apples. Get a big pot. Put a little water in the bottom (like 1/4 cup, or less - you don't want watery applesauce), turn it on medium, and cut your apples roughly in quarters or eighths, and dump them in. Cover. Stir often and don't burn them.
Eventually (1/2 hour maybe?), you will lift the lid and see that your apple sections have quietly exploded and turned to mush.
Spoon this mush into your food mill, and begin to crank the handle. Turn the handle a few times, and then reverse it one turn, to scrape off the apple matter than accumulates under the blade.
 Eventually all the soft apple pulp goes through the little holes, into the bowl below, and you are left with peels, seeds, and other hard stuff in the food mill. You can throw it out.
 Here's the bottom of the food mill where the yumminess emerges.
 And this is two quarts of fresh, healthy applesauce. To this I added about 3 tablespoons sugar, a good shake of cinnamon, and some ground allspice, the magic spice :)
 Finished applesauce, placed in old Mason jars. In the frig it will be fine for a few weeks, but I'm sure we will eat it up before then.
 The little leftover, I enjoyed in a ramekin. We use a lot of little ramekin bowls in our kitchen. Do you?
 And the chai, strained through into this carafe. So all my morning cooking is done. That was quite satisfying!
Today we will stay home and relax. Peter really needs to rest. He had such a tough, cram-packed semester of hard work and rigorous academics. Last week he spent in Raleigh with friends, staying up too late and going out to eat. This week I think he needs to sleep. I love having the kids home, and part of my enthusiasm this morning was simply knowing that I had three children snoozing in my house. It makes me feel homey, nurturing, motherly.
Merry Eve of Christmas Eve to you!


  1. So fun to hear about all your kitchen activity, MK! It is wonderful to have college kids home :) In the Monroe family, we got in the habit of calling the day before Christmas Eve "Christmas Adam"; the day after Christmas was Christmas Cain, etc. It's a bit silly, but we got a chuckle out of it.

  2. Well aren't you busy!?!?! Goodness, you have all done so much! If I don't get a chance, I wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas MK and I hope you and those you love have a wonderful peaceful time together.x

  3. What a busy kitchen today! Wishing you a fun and blessed Christmas with your family.

  4. Oh, kitchen fun!

    Your "eve of Christmas Eve" reminded me of something; when I was teaching, I always wrote the date on the chalkboard, and every Thursday I wrote "Friday Eve."

  5. Aw, enjoy those kids! I've done a lot of cooking this morning with baking to look forward to later. Have a very Merry Christmas in your home! (I should get back into bread making!)


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