I had a good visit on Christmas Eve. Dad and Jean were already there by the time I arrived, about 2:30.
Here's the selfie-with-Molly of the day—with me in short sleeves because the high was 70-some degrees. Oy:
I contributed a salad—with chopped pears and sliced kohlrabi and a dressing that contained lemon juice and fresh nutmeg—to our dinner. Tracey and the 'phews heated up meatballs from Trader Joe's and some other frozen appetizers. Dad and I went crazy for those meatballs. I mean, it was like we took a Mazda Meatballata to Meatball Town—and munched down. *urp*
Because I'd already eaten so much meat, I had only (two servings each of) my salad and Jean's traditional green Jello-O salad when we sat down to dinner:
Everyone else had the Hawley-Gerber Christmas Eve mainstay: sandwiches with cold cuts.
Tracey and David's friends Noah and Noelle joined us. Their children, Naomi and Jayden, have issues with gluten and dairy, so they brought a Crock-Pot of turkey meatballs and some gluten-free rolls. I like N&N. They're a fun couple.
It was a very quiet night after dinner. David was falling asleep on the couch at 8, so Tracey and David were in bed by 8:30. Then Dad went to bed. Then Mike said he was going to bed, and Matt said he would, too, so I said, I'll go upstairs, too. So we were all in our respective rooms by 9:30.
The next morning after breakfast, I drove home on mostly deserted 287 and 202.
As Tony prepped the prime rib—garlic and rosemary within the layers of meat and a lot of cracked black pepper on top—Grady did two of the things he does best: follow his nose and get underfoot:
Tony did all of the cooking; I helped around the edges, like chopping cabbage and carrots.
While the meat was roasting, Rich, Vince, Dad, Jean, and the Gerbers helped themselves to Tony's three kinds of nuts: Macadamias With Cocoa, Hazelnuts With Orange and Lemon Zests and Thyme, and Spicy Pecans (with sriracha and cayenne). The 'phews especially enjoyed the pecans. Everyone also nibbled on my coffee cake and scones.
I thought I would make a garlicky salad like the one I mentioned in this post, until I realized I hadn't actually bought the romaine lettuce I thought was in the fridge. *checks calendar to make sure he's still only 46 and not 76*
We didn't really need a salad with Tony's Braised Cabbage With Juniper. He also made the Sautéed Carrots With Lemon and Marjoram that I've mentioned on the blog before, using both dried majoram and some of the fresh herb I'm managing to keep alive in the sunroom. And he did his Old Greenwich–Style Mushrooms, which everyone took a shine to. Oh, and roasted potatoes. And Jean brought a sweet potato dish that's always a hit, with nuts and brown sugar on top and some vanilla extract in the taters themselves.
David was totally impressed with Tony's homemade Horseradish Mustard, made from fresh horseradish root and actual mustard seeds. David expressed interest in making it for New Year's, along with a prime rib, and so Tony gave him some mustard seeds and the rest of the horseradish root to take home. And Tony e-mailed his recipe, which he had cobbled together from a few different online recipes.
Tracey interpreted David wanting to make horseradish mustard as "Tracey will be making horseradish mustard." I bet David will at least help out because he was so freaking psyched about this mustard. It was like he was on the Zesty Expressway in a Ford Mustardtang headed to Piquantville. (I thought Jean would enjoy it, too, because she often appreciates offbeat things that others in my family don't like, but it turns out, mustard is one of the few flavorings she can't stand.)
I could have mentioned the homemade mustard when I wrote about our Thanksgiving dinner. Tony served his first batch of mustard then, with sausages he put out as appetizers. I'm not a particularly big fan of either horseradish or mustard, but I agree that this mustard is really something special.
Tony also impressed those of us who drink with his alkermes/alchermes. He used it as a flavor spiker for some inexpensive prosecco. Here's Rich making the cocktails, with Vince looking on:
And here are Tony, me, Tracey, and Dad posing with our glasses:
The Gerbers brought Molly with them. Here's a shot of her and our tuckered-out basset (as if there's usually some other adjective to describe him):
And here are the Gerbers eating their dinner in the sunroom, with most of Missy visible:
Dad and Jean ate with me at the dining room table:
And Tony, V, and R were at the bar:
Isn't my guy handsome? Those blue eyes. *swoons*
We opened presents before dessert. My favorite gift to give this year was a collection of punch-needle-embroidered ornaments depicting characters from A Christmas Carol, for Dad and Jean:
D&J watch the George C. Scott–starring version of that holiday classic every year, and the characters on the ornaments resemble those takes on Scrooge and the ghosts of Marley and Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
After dessert and just before the Gerbers went home, Mike, Matt, and I played a game of Exploding Kittens, which I'd given them for Christmas. I think they'll have a blast *groan* playing it with their friends, with whom they already play Cards Against Humanity. You can play EK with only two to five players with a single deck, but I told them they can always get another set of cards if they really enjoy the game and want to be able to accommodate more players.
It's a lot of fun, with a good deal of strategy involved, as well as luck. Mike blew up first, and when we were down to only two cards in the draw pile, I blew up, making Matt the winner.
UPDATE ON JAN. 4: I meant to mention that Grady knocked down the screen door leading onto our deck with his head in an effort to get at Molly's food bowl. She wasn't eating her dinner right away and so Grady saw his chance to snag a second meal. (It was so warm on Christmas that we had the sliding glass door open until it got somewhat chilly that night.) We were able to get the screen door back on its track with only a little difficulty. Matt said we should put Grady on the other side of the door so he could knock it back into place. And he said Grady's willingness to use his head to get at things explains a lot. Good ones, Matt!