Our internet connection went down Christmas Eve and by the time it was restored this afternoon, I had fully realized how quickly I can develop an attachment to something. I really missed you! Here's my full Christmas report..
Instead of going to someone else's house for Christmas I celebrated here at home. Mitch's parents, Tito ("Uncle") Johnny and Tita ("Aunt") Norma came to visit us after their Mediterranean cruise. Yes, it's a little odd for me to call my in-laws Aunt and Uncle, but in the Filipino culture, Tito and Tita are polite terms of affection for people older than you with some family connection. I feel uncomfortable calling parental people by their first names anyway, and Mrs. Sengson just sounds too formal. Anyway, Tito and Tita were with us for a short week and really made themselves indispensible-- helping Mitch change all the lightswitches, do little repairs, teach me how to make mussel soup, make eggrolls, etc.
We did our best to display the proper holiday spirit throughout the house.
This is a Christmas picture my Aunt Pat made for my grandmother when Aunt Pat was a little girl. It's a fern leaf decorated to look like a tree. I loved it since I was a baby and my gram left it to me years ago, so it always goes over the mantle.
Mitch's brother John, his wife Ashley, and their kids Bryan and Sarah arrived from Dallas the night before Christmas Eve. We went out for dinner at Hut's.
I got up early Christmas Eve to get my jits in then headed home to get started on the dinner. My Uncle Leonard and Aunt Ginny sent an Edible Arrangement which the peeps at home sampled for breakfast, along with some fabulous venison sausage courtesy of my jits instructor Phil, who is quite the hunter..
When I got home I hopped into the shower and then into the kitchen. I love to cook. It's a zen thing... a sensual thing... and it scratches my itch to serve and please those I love. Only a few things are as much fun for me as cooking and entertaining.
Since I wasn't with my family in Virginia this year, it fell to me to make the traditional coconut cake. Thank goodness Aunt Ginny isn't stingy with her recipes. Pretty simple-- a 1-2-3-4 cake, 3 layers. (They're called 1-2-3-4 because they have 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups cake flour, and 4 eggs...) It's an old-fashioned cake, not overly sweet and very fluffy and light. What makes the cake special is two steps-- soaking each layer in coconut milk fresh from the nut, and then the frosting.
Sweetened, whipped cream with grated coconut meat from two nuts folded in.
The finished product...
Once the cake was finished it was a mellow day of getting to play in the kitchen with Sarah. She made the cornbread and helped bigtime with most of the other dishes. It really didn't feel like work at all. Everyone hung out and chitchatted and nibbled all afternoon. Here's Ashley in the eggrolls (far from the only one!)
John and Tita..
Finishing up the carrots with some butter and calamansi ..
Waiting patiently for dinner... Bryan on the computer...
Tito, Sarah and Mitch (likewise)...
Tita sampling some of her handmade eggrolls and in the background, Ashley carving the ham. (She is a personal chef of no small renown, up in Dallas-- check out her website here.)
The full spread, ready to be devoured.
Sitting down to dinner. This was a big moment for me-- while I have been hosting Thanksgivings in my house for years and years, it was my first Christmas in my own house, ever.
Then after dinner, we herded the cats into the living room to open presents.
Christmas morning early, John and his crew had to drive back to Dallas to hit the other side of their family, so we did presents Christmas Eve. Here's Tito, Tita and Mitch..
Ashley checks out a Martha Stewart cookbook...
Me and my Julia..
Bryan and his Pokemon game..
John and Sarah snuggling for a moment..
My mouth is pretty much always open.
Sarah and I both received a beaded Spanish headdress from Tito and Tita.
Finally made it to dessert (the fabled coconut cake, plus my Aunt Linda's icebox fruitcake) before heading out to midnight Mass.
What a fiasco that was-- midnight Mass at the Cathedral is such a production that they advise you to arrive absolutely no later than 11 if you want a seat. The Schola Cantorum (renowned choir) was putting on a caroling concert at 11 so we hoped to enjoy that while we waited. Unfortunately due to this and that, we arrived about 11:15pm and discovered there was no room at the inn! So we just came home and went to sleep :)
Next morning was as lazy as lazy could be.
Tita Norma fixing Christmas morning breakfast... sausages, eggs, and rice, and a pot of Berry Grey tea...
Everyone knows that eggnog is breakfast of champions! Nothing like sitting down at a quiet and peaceful kitchen table to peruse some Christmas gifts. I hope your holiday was as blissed out as mine.