I know I'm really late to the party on this discovery, but Christmas is way fun when you have little kids. Okay, so the hubby and I -- erm, Santa -- had to stay up really late in the "workshop" assembling all the gifts, stumbling into bed only to be woken up a few hours later (4:45 am, in fact) by the sound of a wailing Gravy Baby wondering if maybe Santa had forgotten to come to our house and could he puh-lease check right this instant?! We told him that Santa only makes deliveries available after 6:00 am, but what basically resulted was an hour and 15 minutes of four people laying in bed, wide awake and gazing at the ceiling. Still, that feverish anticipation was worth every second.
^^ our Southern boy and his pickup truck. also, a minivan tent ^^
^^ christmas eats: a chocolate peppermint loaf cake serves double duty for the hubby's birthday, and we had a festive tomato/avocado/sausage breakfast casserole after the presents were opened ^^
^^ collecting "christmas tree scraps" for "work" in the garden ^^
^^ everyone loves our new modes of transportation, even Gravy Too ^^
Hope your holidays were as fun-filled and joyous as ours!
Last week it finally got cool enough in the house to need the heater on at night, and the hubby and I looked at each other and wondered when it suddenly became fall. We've been so busy the last few months that it seems like overnight our hot, humid days gave way to cooler nights.
And what have we been up to, exactly? Well, for starters, there was this:
Yes, that's a lamb, roasted in my dad's treasured roasting box. The lamb was delivered fresh to us from lovely Steve at Bethel Trail Farms in Gray Court, South Carolina, and for once I don't care to know the details of how exactly my dad and his grilling crew (comprised of family friends and my brother-in-law) made this lamb into juicy perfection. Some secrets are better left untold; the magic envelops us more completely that way.
The lamb roasting coincided with the third birthday of this guy:
Who basically got 3 straight days of celebrations, including his much-wished for "job site" construction party:
By early October, we had Halloween on the brain. Despite my best attempts to get everyone on board with a group costume, one particular family member insisted that his superpowers could not be hidden any longer:
We also made it out Legare Farms for a "real" pumpkin patch, hayrides and general fall merriment:
Then, the entire extended family gathered for the first time in 21 years. My 92 year old grandmother was as pleased as punch. Of course there are matching pig-themed reunion t-shirts. If a family event happens without matching shirts, then it's like it never happened at all.
And by Halloween, we were all decked out in our Japanese izakaya-themed finery. All of us, except he who saves the world in his pajama pants. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.
From left to right: our golden brown deep-fried turkey; my sister assembling her oyster cornbread stuffing; and my favorite green bean casserole, courtesy Martha
I noticed that Thanksgiving for us gets more loud and boisterous for us every year, and the amount of food increases exponentially with the noise. Back in the early 2000s, we had a dip in both attendance and only adult "kids" around, which made them quieter affairs. Now, Thanksgiving starts the Monday before and ends the Friday after, and we have built-in theme nights that revolve around Thanksgiving, like Fondue and Chinese Hot Pot Night and Roast Duck with Sticky Rice Night (no, I didn't get photos this year; I was too busy chowing for two!).
My sister Amy's sweet potatoes involve pushing the potatoes through a ricer for an extra-creamy, fluffy flavor and incorporating her in-laws' homemade apple butter
This year, my sister Angel added a new twist on our stuffing by whipping up Edward Lee's cornbread oyster stuffing. I took her to a local seafood supplier to pick up a bucket of the area's freshest. Everyone agreed that the addition of oysters took our love of stuffing to a whole new level.
After frying the turkey, my dad used the still-hot oil to make 60 egg rolls, which had all disappeared by the following morning (yes, egg rolls + toaster oven = breakfast)
By the way, if you're looking for a variation on the traditional, gloopy canned-mushroom soup based green bean casserole, this one by Martha using a bechamel base has been my favorite for years. Its festive incorporation of red bell peppers means it's Christmas-friendly, too, right?
And as for the kid and noise factor, I'm a big fan. Huge, actually.