california holidays

Christmas, Quiet

27 December 2008


[Sun at South Salmon Creek, December 2008.]

Yesterday — Boxing Day — we went to the beach and the coast stretched out before us, still and shining as it tends to be in winter. It was very cold and with a fresh wind; my nose and hands were numb by the time we turned round and headed back to the car. But it was sunny; this, I’ve learned, doesn’t always make for the best picture-taking (you really want that lovely soft grey light from the fog) but it does make for the best overall experience. We walked and walked and today I am a little tired from all that and from running four miles earlier in the day.

But it was Christmas, and on Christmas you just have to do things like that (technically it was the day after Christmas but it felt like Christmas to have a sunny, clear day at the beach. One of the best presents I could ever ask for.).

Our holiday this year was pretty quiet, but one of the nicest yet. There was a breakfast of my mom’s challah bread french toast, complete with blueberries and good maple syrup, then a bit of present opening (my haul included a pretty blue hand mixer and a backpacking stove (!) from my brother) and lots of coffee. I managed to squeeze in a short run in the freezing (well, freezing for Sebastopol) day and came home to — predictably — stuff myself.

We started with an assortment of cheeses and crackers, dolmas and spanakopita, a bit of red wine. My brother had volunteered to cook dinner so in between bites (and quarters of various basketball games) he set to work. I do love watching him in the kitchen; he’s so mellow and always seem to know exactly what he’s doing. I must admit there are times when I wish I could emulate him when I get a wee bit, ahem, stressed while cooking; perhaps a New Year resolution?


[Kurt, cooking, December 2008.]

In less than a week, the new year. I will swing out on the door and wish on stars and call the moon down out of the sky to make it a better year for all of us. 2009 is going to be our year, my brother and I have decided, and with any luck we’ll be ringing — and cooking — it in together. I have a few days to plan out my menu for my party (I need to sit down with a pen and a long piece of paper to work out exactly what I’m cooking and what I need for it; the theme, which will surprise absolutely no one, is Greek and the one thing I’m absolutely sure of is at midnight we’ll crack the champagne and dig into a vasilopita, all hoping to be the one to find the coin) and as this is one of my very favorite things to do I’m quite looking forward to that endeavor. Right at this very moment I’m thinking a big pot of lentil soup, a roast chicken, a bit of fish braised and baked, a zucchini-potato bake, a dish of chard and black eyed peas, an endless bowl of tzatziki, garlicky white beans — though, of course, all is subject to change as I work my way through the planning process.

Until then there will be leftovers — spinach fettuccine, babka, cake and cookies — and drinking lots of tea while watching the sky spit down rain (also a new year’s wish: clear skies, at least for next weekend) and reading and sleeping in as late as possible. I’m dreaming of spring but will content myself with staying indoors and lounging in front of the fire until it comes.

Christmas Dinner

Lamb roasted with olive oil and rosemary
Roasted parsnips and potatoes
Roasted cauliflower
Mushroom risotto
Applesauce

Lemon cake with whipped cream and blueberries
Vegan chocolate cake

  • Dana 28 December 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I just came across your wonderful blog on tastespotting. I love your mix of prose, recipes and photography. Thanks for sharing!

  • justrun 27 December 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Glad you’ve had a few wonderful days. Here’s to many more!