Friday, December 26, 2008

A Nice Christmas Eve and A Nicer Christmas, all ending up with me cooking a seafood medley for tomorrow (actually for later today)

So there I was, late on Christmas Eve, ever so slightly disappointed that my Christmas Season tradition of many years had not been upheld this year. I did not have the opportunity to make it into Manhattan to make my rounds from home to Penn Station, to Macy’s, to the Empire State Building (the thing I miss most), to Rockefeller Center, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to tiffany’s and Van Cleefe and Arpels, to Central Park, to Times Square, back to Penn Station and to home. I was however, as I said, only slightly disappointed. I did spend a few hours with Brendan and my mom at the assisted living facility in which she now lives. Mind you it is not a nursing home, more of an apartment complex with people to help you through your day. She has a two and a half room apartment there; a living room, a bedroom and a kitchenette. I decided that my time this year would be better spent visiting my mom since she has only been in her new living arrangement for about 2 or 3 weeks now. Brendan was nice enough to come along, and that made my mom’s day. We also brought along Pepe (named after the cartoon skink Pepe Le Peu) our 3 ½ year old male Chihuahua. He made a lot of peoples’ day at the assisted living residence, he was a big hit among the residents as well as the workers. Of course he is always a big hit with my family, as he is with most people, but not so much with other dogs (grrrrowl, he likes to be the boss).

After we visited my mom, I was able to uphold part of my tradition of many years, a part older than my going into Manhattan each Christmas Season for the above round, and that was to get my Christmas shopping done. I stopped at a small local liquor store and picked up 3 bottles of Gluh Wein for my wife (a German spiced red wine), and of course I got something for myself. I picked up a bottle of Redbreast. It is a triple distilled unblended Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey aged not less than 12 years in oak casks. It is not much like the extremely smooth Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey I have enjoyed a few times in the past, it being of a more peaty/oak-like flavor along the lines of a finer Scotch Whiskys. I prefer the Knappogue Castle, but this stuff is not bad at all. That triple distilling of Irish Whiskeys has something going for it (note the ‘e’ in the Irish and not in the Scotch spelling of Whiskey/Whisky). After that I made a quick stop at a local Korean market for some delectable seafood and other goodies for a meal to be cooked by me in the near future. Clams, Mussels, Shrimp, Squid, Pork Bellies, Rib Eye Steak, baby potatoes, scallions, Oyster Mushrooms, and Shitake Mushrooms all for one of my special dishes.

After that I was off to the local mall. Once there I headed for Dick’s Sporting Goods to get a gift for my daughter’s boyfriend, who everyone else thinks is that kind of person for whom it is impossible to pick the right gift. I headed right to the knife display and picked out a Benchmade Folding Knife:

http://www.benchmade.com/products/product_detail.aspx?model=10402.

As it turned out, I walked into the store, got to the hunting department on the second floor, and as soon as I got there they made an announcement that the store was closing in 5 minutes. Of course there were no salespeople in sight. I did find a young lass who was arranging things on a rack, and I asked her to help me get a knife – since they were locked in a display cabinet. I asked her how much was the Benchmark I had selected, and she was nice enough to find a scanner and price it for me at – well at a fair price is all I will say for a Benchmark knife. I took it to the checkout without her following me – as is required with most of the knives (and as it should have been with this one), and I made it to the checkout just as they announced the store was closed and that all purchases had to be brought to the checkout counters. I paid with cash and with a $10.00 certificate I had from Dick’s. Not a bad deal, wish I had enough to have gotten one for myself.

The I was off to home where put the finishing touches on our tree. When we had arrived home from my mom’s, Brendan put the lights on it, then headed off to his girlfriends. I was left to put the ornaments on it, and decided to do that after getting my shopping done. Yep, we only put up our tree on Christmas Eve this year, and I only purchased it the night before. A nice tree too at that. Once that was done, I wrapped a few remaining presents, and placed everything under the tree. Then I had a nice glass of Irish Cream liqueur, and then hit the hay.

Christmas Day was a nice one to which to wake up after the more recent days of inclement weather. It had snowed the past weekend, then we had some freezing rain, and then of Christmas Eve it was cold and rainy. Christmas Day, on the other hand was sunny when I crawled out of bed at about 0700, and it had warmed up considerably, probably into the 40s. Now I like a White Christmas more than do most folks, but I did not want to have to drive 85 miles to my sister’s place in the snow, and as it turned out it was a grand day for a drive. First things first, I made a pot of coffee (half French Guatemalan and half Tanzanian Peaberry) and then started on the bacon for breakfast. Linda cooked the eggs and biscuits, and Brendan helped us finish it all. Then we opened presents. Celina was away with her beau. Then it was off to Brendan’s sweetheart’s house to pick her up for the ride to my sister’s place where we would enjoy the day with my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew, my brother, my sister-in-law, my mom and 8 dogs. Now back to the day being a grand one for a drive, it was actually even grander than expected since Brendan drove there and back. The day at my sister’s place was great, her cooking was absolutely delicious from the shrimp/crab spread she makes from scratch to the rack of Prime Rib for the main course to the chocolate birthday cake we had for my mom.

After we arrived home, Celina and her beau showed up and they opened their presents. After Celina departed, Linda cleaned up. Then she was off to bed, and I set about cooking up the seafood I also had bought yesterday. Once things were cleaned up and Linda was off to bed, and I headed to the kitchen for that seafood meal I was going to cook. As it turned out the mussels had keeled over. The clams were okay as was everything else except maybe the squid which was questionable. I tossed out the mussels and the squid and took it from there. I just got done making the whole meal, with the exception of the clams, which are in a basin in salt water cleansing themselves and waiting, unbeknownst to them, to be steamed. They may or may not be added to the dish tomorrow; I am debating on having them steamed plain. Things I added to my other ingredients in the pot and from the home larder were a can of tomato paste, a can of tomato sauce, lots of garlic powder, lots of black pepper, sea-salt, and some crushed hot red pepper sauce that I picked up in Chinatown. Oh yes, lest I forget, I added two bottles of good German Octoberfest bier to the mix, and a few dashes of ground Cinnamon and a dash of ground cloves. I have got to say that my creation of no name is tasty. I am sure that all will love it for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

It is now about 2:25 on the day after Christmas, and I think it high time I get my ass to bed and try to catch some z’s.

All the best,
Glenn B
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