Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

My Mom and I have been busy in the kitchen today, preparing for this evening's meal and as we can for tomorrow's feast.

We have homemade Creamy Clam Chowder simmering for this evening. It is an unusual recipe, I think, but is absolutely delicious. Chowder lovers, here's a little gift for ya!

Clam Chowder
My favorite clam chowder.... Different and delicious! From Mom's files.

1 51 ounce can chopped clams (reserving liquid)
6 slices bacon
1 medium onion
1 cup carrots, diced
3 cups tater tots
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon lemon and pepper
1 carrot, shredded
4 cups milk
2 cups half and half
5 tablespoons flour

In large pot cook cut-up bacon till crisp. Drain off fat. Add chopped onion. Add liquid from clams and bring to boil. Simmer 10 min. Add spices, onion, carrots, tater tots, milk and clams. Return to just a boil and let simmer for one hour. Serves 10.

Notes: I usually use all skim milk, for the milk and the half and half. (On Christmas Day however, we pull out the stops and use half and half for an extra special and very creamy consistency!) I use twice the bacon called for. Mix the flour with water and add at end to thicken soup, as needed.

I have Frozen Peppermint Delight freezing for tomorrow's dessert. This recipe is as easy as recipes get, it's yummy, and it's very pretty too. We like to have a standing rib roast for Christmas dinner, and I think the cool peppermint follows roast beef perfectly. Here 'tis!

Frozen Peppermint Delight
1 package (14 ounces) cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 gallon peppermint ice cream, slightly softened
1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 jar (11-3/4 ounces) hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
Crushed peppermint candy

In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish. Spread ice cream over crust; top with whipped topping. Cover and freeze until solid. May be frozen for up to 2 months. Just before serving, drizzle with hot fudge topping and sprinkle with peppermint candy. Yield: 12-15 servings.

This evening we are going to a traditional Latin Mass at 8pm. Oh how we'd love to go to Midnight Mass at the Oratory--click here to read at St. Louis Catholic about what you can expect tonight at midnight--but it won't work for us this year. We are thankful to Fr. Lockwood who will celebrate the TLM at Assumption parish at 8pm.

The boys are excited as only 8 and 9 year old boys can be. Although they will be in bed later than their usual 8:30 bedtime tonight, we anticipate they will wake us early on Christmas morning. We've already told them they can't get up before 6am!

And so, as Advent draws to a close, and we celebrate once again the Coming of the Christ Child, may you all be blessed with a happy and holy Christmas, and may your celebration endure for the whole Christmas season!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mom's Coming to Town!

Tomorrow evening we'll head up to the airport to pick up my mom, who is flying in from Washington (state) to be with us for the holidays! We are all so excited!

The boys love it when Grandma comes to town. First off, she brings one suitcase that is practically loaded with surprises, no matter what time of year it happens to be. But their excitement goes a bit deeper than the haul they will likely take on opening her luggage. There are many little traditions that have evolved over the years, all of which makes the boys very close to her, even though we are so far away most of the year.

One such tradition is the Baking of the Bread. My mom, herself the daughter of a baker, makes the best homemade bread. The recipe, given to her by her dad over 50 years ago, is not even written down. She has it in her head only, but it produces five beautiful white yeasty loaves every time. She keeps saying she's going to write it down, and she should. As much as my boys enjoy helping, kneading, tasting, they might just want it when they're old enough to bake themselves. We all know that within days of her arrival, our house will smell like it only does on bread-baking day. Mmmmmm.

The boys also know Grandma is pretty willing to do just about anything with them, whether it's playing a game, putting together a puzzle, reading, or playing outside (in warmer months, that is). And then there are the fun little songs that only Grandma sings to them... even if it began when they were babies, and at 8 and 9 they're getting a little 'old' for it, somehow it's still ok, because it's Grandma.

Of course my husband and I are looking forward to her arrival too! Mom and I have always been very close, so when she comes in we spend hours upon hours 'catching up', as if it would be possible to ever be caught up. She and I will enjoy decorating for Christmas, spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking sweet treats, watching our old favorite Christmas shows that we watched together in years gone by.

She'll be here for a month, a nice long visit that will fly by in a wink. It will be the first Christmas without Dad, so I think her time here with us over the holidays will be as good for her as it will be for us.

We'll cherish every moment. Truly, there is no one I'd rather share 'my morning cup' with!