Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

Another Christmas has come and gone and even with all the changes to our "traditional" Christmas that went on this year, we probably had one of the best Christmas' ever.  Christmas Eve is typically spent at the ILs but this year, since my SIL has just sold her house and she wanted one last memory in it, we held it at her house.  Which for us was more convenient being as she is/was only about 2 miles  from us. We also shook things up a bit by attending the family service at our church vs the mass at the ILs Catholic church.   Oh and my sister being wheeled into surgery in Washington State to remove her hip.  That's not typical for our Christmas Eve celebrations. Those were the only big changes this year.

The rest?  The massive quantities of appetizers?  Check!  The arrival of the Santa bag?  Check! The cousins' gift exchange? Check!  The white elephant adult exchange? Check!  The only thing missing this year was snow.  And while I would have LOVED to have a huge storm howling outside, I knew that such a storm means that someone has to keep the roads safe, and unfortunately away from HIS family on Christmas.  So, I willingly sacrifice snow. (yes...as if I have a say in that anyhow).

Since I had already made my cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and my Creme Brulee for Christmas dinner dessert, there wasn't really that much for me to do Christmas Eve morning.  I had to pick up oldest daughter from a sleepover and then just gather up all that we would need for a day at the SILs.  The coordinating apparel colors (for which I am eternally grateful to my family for putting up with this little idiosyncrasy of mine) for this year were black and gray and none of the girls chose curls for Christmas this year...a win-win for me!  We stopped at friends to have a Christmas Eve afternoon drink with friends before hauling the family over to the SILs.
LUCKILY, this year, I got to be a party to the making of the TRADITIONAL Tom and Jerry's that are a staple every Christmas Eve.  If you have never had a Tom and Jerry, let me just say, you are missing out.  I missed out my first 29 years of life and have spent the rest making up for it!  It is sorta like a warm egg nog and before you groan and say YUCK, I suggest you give it a try.  I looked at many recipes and found that often people use warm milk in theirs.  We don't.  The recipe goes like this:
Tom and Jerry's
12 warm eggs separated
1 3/4 lb powdered sugar (Yes that's POUNDS not cups)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
3-5 drops of cinnamon oil
5 shakes nutmeg
Beat warm egg whites for 5 minutes.  Slowly add 1 lb powdered sugar to egg whites. Add cream of tartar and baking soda. Continue to beat for 15 minutes.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks for 5 minutes.
Add 3/4 lb powdered sugar and beat for NO MORE than 15 minutes (too much beating will cause the yolks to become hard and difficult to combine with egg whites).
Slowly fold in egg yolks into egg whites adding 3-5 drops of cinnamon oil (NOTE...this is NOT extract.  You want OIL.  A cooking store will carry this) and 5 shakes of nutmeg.
Mix/fold slowly so as not to lose your egg white volume but making sure the batter is uniform in color.  Put batter into pretty punch bowl and sprinkle the top with nutmeg.
To serve, place 1 1/2 heaping Tbs batter into a mug.  Add 1/2 oz of brandy (or more...I won't watch) and 1/2 oz of rum (samsies).  Fill remainder of cup with simmering hot water and mix well. Sprinkle with an additional shake of nutmeg and enjoy.
Then, we all packed up and headed to church.  It was a joy not to have to arrive 1 1/2 hours in advance in order that the family get to sit together.  We arrived about 20 minutes before the service began and easily found seats for all 21 of us.  It was a family service that told the story of Jesus' birth through  the biblical verses acted out by children.  What could be more perfect?  And entertaining.  You just never know what will happen with children.  Pastor Mike's short sermon at the end left me filled with hope.

Back to the SILs for what seemed to be a 6 hour long food orgy.  I tried to spread mine out throughout the evening.  There were meatballs and shrimp.  There was a pumpkin butter and cheese.  I made a spinach dip but I think the girls devoured that before church.  There was a hot artichoke dip and a sushi platter.  I made bruschetta and guess what?  The girls devoured that too.  Then I popped into the oven meat candy (that's what I call bacon wrapped smokies topped with brown sugar and baked).  My nephew made his famous wings.  My SIL showed off her culinary expertise by making sausage and mushroom canapes that were delicious.  My final appetizer was Martha Stewart's Upside Down Mushroom Tartlets but made them in a regular muffin tin, making them a bit more appetizer sized...a bit.

In between the appetizers, my daughter and nieces took part in a fashion show of sorts.  My oldest niece still had all her "formal" dresses from her high school years and offered them to the girls.  We got to see each of them in all the dresses.  So do you:
And yes, I can answer the question that is burning in your mind:  he has 2, one's a 40, the other a 45.  FYI.

This is usually the time Santa arrives and drops off his goodie filled bag, which somehow, magically (because, DUH, it's Santa) makes it back to Santa for next year.  This when the fun really begins. The youngest (17 and under) do a gift exchange by drawing names.  There are 10 of them.  Then they get their gifts from their grandparents and give their gifts to their grandparents.  Up next:  adult white elephant exchange.  This started out 2 years ago after we had done it with friends and had a ball.  But instead of trying to find the ugliest, pointless gift (clown), we have upped the ante as it were and try to give the gift that everyone wants which makes the opening so much more fun.  Our gifts, in keeping with the aforementioned theme were:  a car emergency kit and a floating bobber-cooler.  The gifts we received:  a box full of Leinies stuff and a box with a pound of Starbucks coffee and a box of Oregon Chai.  One of the funniest gifts, however, was a can of:
Not something you see in most local grocery stores.  The evening wound down and we were soon  packing up and heading home.

Home...where the Christmas adventure would continue...

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