This weekend was that mad one before Christmas. The time when I should have crossed everything I needed to do off my list.
But I didn’t.
I should have sat on Santa’s lap and asked for more time!
I also have a feeling that if I DID sit on Santa’s lap, he would not be smiling for long due to my long list of
demands Christmas wishes!
And even if he did surprise me with a pre-Christmas gift of a day or so, it wouldn’t have done any good.
I still have food shopping and preparations to do—and I’m trying to figure out the time when I’ll be able to complete the make-aheads.
The main dessert—the annual Buche de Noel still has to be made. I’m planning on starting on Friday.
It’s funny because even when I was working in the past, I’ve always managed to finagle a few days off before Christmas Eve.
But it’s all good because things have a way of working out. Wednesday evening I pick Oona up at the airport. She is always willing to help out and while I’m at work on Thursday and Friday, I know she will be running last-minute errands for me!
My daughter! Oona is just like mommy when it comes to baking and cooking! She made this hugs tray of brownies from scratch–the Barefoot Contessa Outrageous Brownie recipe. I KNOW she’ll be helping me!
But let’s talk about the weekend.
All last week I was looking forward to Saturday because I finally made an appointment with Adam to have my hair cut. It’s been awhile. I’ve lost more hair. But I have this odd luck. Whenever I get my hair cut—the weather is horrific. In the summer it always rains on haircut day. In the winter, Mother Nature will always manage to screw me over with snow or ice or freezing rain.We woke up to freezing rain.
THIS is what I was faced with on Saturday morning! Snow–I can deal with. Ice–No. Just NO!!
Ugh. I didn’t even bother to dress nicely. I wore an old gym t-shirt of my son Jake’s from his St. Ignatius Loyola Days. I was pleased as punch that the shirt fit me. See—proof that you should hoard clothing and never throw clothing away!
Notice that my hair is rather dull and dry looking. The ends need some serious love and cutting!
Bonaparte insisted on driving me and I wasn’t complaining about it. I hate driving on icy roads. Besides, it is always nice when I allow my delusional mind into thinking that I am an heiress with my own personal chauffeur.
Anyway, Adam did a stellar job. He worked his magic with shears, a blow dryer and my Toppik. It was great to saunter around in only my bio hair. And as strapped for time as I may be, I made an appointment for Christmas Eve morning to get a blowout. Hey. I need to look good while I’m cooking that big Christmas feast!
Look at my hair!! Adam did such a great job. Even with all the hair loss, my locks still look full..and…
He worked wonders with the Toppik!! Look! No bald spots!!!
Now-with the Saturday weather as bad as it was, we decided to hit the mall after I had my hair done. Our thinking was that the bad weather could have kept the crowds away—and at 10:30 in the morning, we took our chances.
The mall was empty! We got our shopping done in an hour and were off to get the groceries. Are you bored yet?
We had plenty of time to admire the decorations at Nordstrom–and celebrate because we got a great parking spot!
I forgot to mention, we also went to Barnes and Noble to do some Christmas shopping. Barnes and Noble has customers donate books for children in need. I ended up buying “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. My kids LOVED this book when they were young and I loved reading it to them. It’s a family favorite and I hope the child that receives this loves it just as much as we did!
Saturday night’s dinner was inspired by an old episode of the show “Good Eats”. Alton Brown was extolling the scientific facts about cooking Braciole; or rather “roulade”—meat rolled and stuffed.
Too bad there are no new episodes because I’ve always found this show fascinating!
I thought it would be interesting to take pork tenderloin, pound it down flat and stuff it. And that is what I did. I stuffed the pounded meat with a pesto that I made, rolled it up, tied it with twine and roasted it in the oven with sweet onion and rosemary. To accompany the meat, I made a sauce of apples, calvados, shallot, black currant and cream.
Saturday night’s dinner: Pork roulade stuffed with Pesto, sliced sweet onion and a calvados cream sauce! Yum. Kind of.
The consensus on the pork. I loved it because I love anything with pesto. Bonaparte loved the sauce and the meat but was “meh” on the pesto. Next time I’ll stuff the pork with apples and caramelized onion!
Let’s backtrack a couple of hours. Before preparing dinner, I made Pork Rillettes. Remember I made the Salmon Rillettes last week? The Pork Rillettes are great for spreading on crostini as well as crackers. Hell, you can make a sandwich with the rillettes.
Pork Rillettes. Made ahead. All cooked. Just bring to room temperature and spread on crostini or crackers! Easy peasy!
Here’s how I made them: I purchased a Pork Shoulder—about 4 pounds. I placed the pork in the crockpot, sliced a couple of red onions and also placed them in the crock pot. I 1/4 cup of broth. I also added a ton of thyme sprigs and I ground up quite a few allspice berries. I let it cook all night on low. When the meat was cooled, I pulled it apart and put it in the food processor to chop it up a bit finer. I added two cloves of garlic. And set it to the side. I cooked bacon. A pound of it. After the bacon was cooked, I chopped it into the food processor. I reserved the fat from the pan. I mixed the bacon with the pork. Added the bacon fat. Added more allspice and chopped up fresh rosemary and threw that into the mix. Pepper and a bit of salt and spooned into jars. These will keep well until maybe a week after Christmas. I can assure they will be gone by the day after Christmas.
Another item crossed off my to-do list.
That was my day.
Yesterday I never got out of my pajamas. I’m not kidding you either. Yesterday was devoted to more baking and wrapping gifts.
Sunday’s look. Ever chic in my daughter’s stolen Delta Gamma Hoodie. Note the flour spills scattered about to give it a lived-in look. (I better wash this before she gets home). Old Navy Pajama bottoms, which are also rather filthy from various foodstuffs being spilled upon the plaid. But look how shiny my hair is!!!!
I baked more biscotti. (As if the four dozen I baked four days ago wasn’t enough.)
Tip for spooning or pouring batter into a piping bag. I saw this on Jacques Pepin a few years ago. Place the empty piping bag into a tall glass then proceed to fill the piping bag. This is genius. If you are familiar with piping bags you know what a pain-in-the-ass it is to get all that delicious batter into these things. Listen to Monsieur Pepin. And me!
I baked two more brioches. The dough was made on Saturday after making the rillettes and before dinner prep. Oh. And I made boule dough. I’ll get to that in a while.
Two more brioche doughs..and….
All the doughs had to be refrigerated overnight after a first rising. The dough had no problem rising in the heated kitchen!
So on Sunday morning, the dough was taken out, folded, pounded and left for a second rise.
The rise is a three-hour wait. That’s when the biscotti were baked.
Are you following me?
And every now and then I would sit on my little love seat in the sun room. Until Chippy decided he wasn’t going to move over for anyone. That included me. I get no respect.
Chippy wouldn’t move from this spot. I finally had to lure him with treats. I swear I get no respect!
Three hours passed, and the brioche bakes. Let it cool, wrap the loaf up and place in the freezer.
The great thing about brioche is how versatile it is. It freezes beautifully. It toasts up beautifully. I’ll be using this for French Toast Casserole on Christmas morning. The loaf on the right was made in a Pullman Pan. The greatest invention since Toppik! Ask Joe Pastry what a Pullman Pan is. He knows!
Now it’s time to bake the boule. This is an easy bread to make. The recipe is in the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. Look—the title is misleading. You cannot bake a loaf of bread in five minutes a day—you can’t even prepare to bake a loaf of bread in five minutes a day. But—for what it’s worth. The boule recipe is epic! Boule Recipe. NOTE. I cut the recipe in half.
Regardless of the title, this book really does make bread baking very approachable!
When all the baking was finished, it was about three in the afternoon. I was still in my pajamas. By this time, I was covered in so much flour, I could have been my own loaf of bread.
OK. I just made a random click and ended up captioning the photo. WTF?? Bonaparte loves this boule. In fact, he suggested I make rolls out of the dough. Yeah. I’ll do that. Sometime after Christmas!
Now—I don’t know about you, but in my efforts to be organized, I end up in a state of disorganized organization. This means that the Christmas gifts I bought for everyone were organized—but in different parts of the chateau. So off I went into each closet and crevice of the house to collect the gifts. Bags of them. I went in search of all my wrapping papers and embellishments and began to wrap.
Part of the fun was putting these boxes together! It takes a village to construct these boxes–a village of engineers!
TWENTY. Yes, twenty minutes later I finally figured it out!
Mommy has a new toy in the form of another “Bowdabra”. See how perfect the bows are? I’m looking forward to making more. Lots more.
My dining room table is now the storage for all the “stuff”. And I got tired after making a few bows so I stopped.
These will be on the dining room table for a few days. We’ll eat at the other end!
Half filled stockings that need more goodies are also in the mix!
By now it was time to start dinner. And after dinner I was too tired to do anything else.
I was baked and wrapped out!
And quite honestly, I felt as though I accomplished nothing. But in hindsight, I did accomplish quite a bit. I’m catching a second “Holiday Wind” right now. And I’m ready to tackle this week’s “to-do” list. On tomorrow’s list is a manicure and facial wax. For God’s sake, if I don’t get a wax job I’ll be able to stand in for Santa Claus because my lady whiskers will turn into a full-on beard! Wednesday I leave work and head directly to Philly airport to pick up Oona. Thursday is last minute food shopping along with more stocking stuffers. Friday I should start the cake but maybe I’ll procrastinate and Oona and I will catch a movie!
Santa is giving me the eye because he’s hoping that I DON’T get a wax job. He may need me to deliver gifts for him! Too bad Santa–I’ll deal with coal in my stocking. I need to look pretty!
I’ll do the rest on Christmas Eve!
Chippy better stop giving me attitude and eye rolls when I ask him to get off the sofa or he’ll be getting coal as well! Can you believe the way he looks at me? He’s just like a teenager! I REALLY get no respect from him!
Hopefully I’ll get a blog post in before Saturday. If not, “YULE” be hearing from me on Christmas Eve!!!
So do you ever get overwhelmed by the Christmas season? Do you ever feel like you need more time–or is it me?
Enjoy this hectic week. Stay safe. Stay calm. Stay happy!
Hey Santa, even without my whiskers I’ll still help you. As long as I get to ride with Rudolph!
Today’s song: Manhattan Transfer “Snowfall”. I have their Christmas CD and this is my favorite song on the CD. I’ve never heard it before and it puts me in such a relaxing mood. It’s a very soothing piece of music!