Christmas is arriving in less than a week– time is flying by at such a rapid speed that I feel I’ve been doing everything……………………………………….and nothing!
Time. It’s fleeting and I’ve so little of it–but I feel like I’m not getting anywhere!
The house is decorated as tastefully and as discreetly as I could possibly make it with the tree being the center of attention. I didn’t even load the tree up with all the ornaments we have amassed—I wanted to take it a bit lightly.
All the bannisters in the house are dressed and lit up…
The tree has settled in nicely and is decorated but not overdone…
Sofas, loveseats and chairs are festooned with holiday pillows, blankets, and throws!
It’s the small touches and little nuances that are adding a festive look to our home this year.
A plaid tablecloth, a very large poinsettia, milk for Santa and more…
A basket on the wall with holiday greens and berries..
Ribbon and garland on the cupboard..
And the Master of the house admiring it all! That Chippy!
Work has been crazy-busy. And as much as I thrive on a busy and productive work day, during the holiday prep days, I kind of wish that I had more time. Time. We all need it during that stretch of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Am I right?
Sometimes not having enough time turns me into a Scroogette. But not for long!
The list for Christmas dinner has been created and Bonaparte and I will head out to cross the food items off tomorrow as we do the final shop. Luckily, I’m off from work and will be able to get this done!
The kids begin to arrive on Saturday. I’ll pick Jake up at the airport and Oona and Sam will arrive with their new puppy, Gracie, by car. Roman will get here on Sunday.
And with that means three nights of family dinners pre-Christmas!
Christmas Eve dinner? Since we are not big on Christmas Eve and I’ll be preparing for the next day with guests coming over, Christmas Eve is usually relaxed. When we lived in New Jersey, Christmas Eve was a gathering of neighbors and was wonderful. Everyone has since moved on which is sad in a way.
But—my new Christmas Eve tradition is take-out. What’ll it be this year? Chinese or Asian fusion? Middle Eastern food (I vote for that)? Buffalo Wild Wings? We’ll all figure it out together.
What’ll Christmas Eve be–Chinese?
Middle Eastern? (yes)
B-Dubs wings? …or all three?
Sunday’s dinner will be a very-much requested meal by all three kids. Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken. Always a winner!
The very well-loved Lemongrass Chicken. Spicey. Lots of Heat and delicious. I’ll have to triple up on the recipe and quadrupe on the sauce and rice! A great Sunday night dinner!
But—Saturday evening’s dinner will be slightly different. At first, I was going to go very casual with a big pot of chili. But the thing is that Oona can’t stand beans in her Chili. I love mine with a ton of beans. And then she added that since she and Sam are driving, they’ll arrive later so they could pick something up.
My first choice was chili–mmmmm. But Oona doesn’t like beans in hers!
That left me, the Frenchman and Jake to dine together. What could I make for Jake that could be special? Since his move to L.A., I don’t get to see him at all (which makes him happy, I think) and he’s really busy traveling between the coasts to meetings. He deserves a nice home-cooked meal from mommy!
And so, I decided upon duck. He loves duck. Bonaparte loves duck. I love duck. And the more I thought about it, the more I was determined to make duck.
I’ve made duck breasts with an orange sauce but not a whole roasted duck with orange sauce1
Now—understand my kids and I have a group text. When Oona got hold of the duck thing her reaction was a very sibling kind of thing. But I assured her that there would be plenty of duck for them when they arrive.
Actual text between me and Oona. She’ll take the duck!
Now—about the duck. Have you any idea how difficult it is to buy a friggin’ duck on Philly’s Mainline? First of all, there are no duck farms around here. Secondly, I don’t think many people even roast a whole duck anymore. Thirdly (is that even a word?), I couldn’t even depend on our local Wegmans for duck.
Let me explain something. People think that Wegmans is the be-all and end-all in grocery. It isn’t. In the first place, the company insists on product placement in odd areas of the store. Furthermore, the help, as amiable as they are, have no idea what is in the bowels of the stock area.
I swear my chances of finding a golden egg are better than finding a duck at Wegmans!
I went in to Wegmans two days ago in search of duck. Now—the store usually has the ready-packaged D’Artagnan brand duck breasts, duck fat and duck sausage. On this particular day, I picked up the last breast as a safeguard. There was no duck fat (thankfully I have some in my fridge) and…there were no ducks in the frozen weird food’s freezer.
If I couldn’t find a whole duck, I would scour the Mainline to find a few of these!
This is a freezer set apart from the frozen foods section. In this freezer, the store has shelves of bone marrow, beef liver, gizzards and other meat oddities. There had to be about thirty frozen gooses (or is it geese), frozen capon, but no frozen duck.
I then walked over to the “fresh meat” counter—the one where Wegmans fancies it up to make one think there is an actual trained butcher. But there isn’t. Anyway, I walked over to the counter and asked the pretend butcher if there was any duck in the back because I didn’t see any in the freezer.
Either this guy’s name was Thomas, aptly named after the doubting Apostle, or he thought I was a student on the short bus who didn’t know what a frozen duck looked like. He walked over to the freezer to find a duck…and ended up validating my works that there were no frozen ducks.
Truthfully, I was Jonah to the meat man at Wegmans (even though I DID have my lip waxed over the weekend!)
Stunned at the site of an overabundance of goose, he scratched his head and told me he would go into the back to see if any came in.
After ten minutes he appeared and told me that ducks had, in fact, been delivered but he couldn’t find them. He took down my name and number and promised me he would call when he found the ducks. It’s been two days now and he hasn’t called me. I feel like a rejected date.
No! He didn’t. Duck him!!
Acquiring this duck was now becoming an obsession. My husband offered to see if he could get one or two at the Wayne Farmer’s Market when he gets the chicken for Sunday evening. For me, it’s the principal of the thing. I declined his offer because I wanted to find the duck and the Farmers Market duck would be very expensive.
Then I thought about my days growing up on Long Island. Duck farms were plentiful out on the East End and now only one is left. But—at least I know I could get a damned duck if we lived out on Long Island!
If only we lived out on Long Island. I would be a regular at Crescent Duck Farm. The Corwin family would think I’m a duck stalker!
And on the way to work yesterday I had an epiphany. I could bet that Whole Foods would have duck. It would be overpriced but perhaps not so much as the Farmers Market. If I purchased the duck before work, I could store the duck in the office fridge.
Whole Foods in Devon. They got the goods!
Have you ever been to Whole Foods? It’s a trip, that store. What Walmart is to the common, basic and under-salaried folk, Whole Foods is to the well-salaried, trendy, hip and “I-only-buy-the-best” crowd.
Thrillist.com got it right about the sterotypical Whole Foods Shopper! Where we Walmart Shoppers tread in five-buck leggings–Whole Foods has the Lululemon contingent–but they don’t eat–so who are they buying this food for?
I arrived as the store opened. My Toyota Rav-4 nestled between the Land Rovers and Beemers. My red coat stood out like the outerwear of a seasoned walk of shamer in the crowd of blonde (real hair too—not wigs like mine), almost anorexic-thin, Tory Burch clones dressed in activewear. I wondered why they were in a grocery store at all since all they probably consume are two green shakes a day and maybe a raisin or a grape for added protein.
Not kidding. 99 percent of the women in Whole Foods were Tory Burch lookalikes. The other one percent was me!
Note to self: Next time you are going to shop at Whole Foods please wear a blonde wig! Also. Lose thirty pounds and don activewear. Only buy ingreeds for a green shake. Then buy a duck!
Then I had a ray of hope—these women would never eat a duck—there’s too much fat!
And speaking of fat…look what I found! At Walmart!! This spray duck fat is greatness!
And so, I sauntered over to the butcher (a real one) and inquired if I could get a duck. Well..I must have been one of a rare breed who actually asked for a fatty bird because he seemed very happy to help me—either that or he hadn’t seen a woman with meat on her bones in a while. After all. this Whole Foods is on Philly’s Mainline where women live in activewear unless they are attending a wedding, funeral or formal fundraiser for their child’s private school.
He led me to a refrigerated section that was loaded with ducks. Succulent, fatty, undressed ducks that were waiting to be placed into a cart and roasted or grilled or cooked confit style. Ducks that would be slathered with a citrusy syrup of orange and Grand Marnier or a Cherry sauce or an Asian sauce. Duck that would put a smile on those who consumed it.
This is better than the golden egg. This is Saturday Night Dinner!
I purchased not one, but two ducks. Two will feed five people perfectly.
My ducks! I can’t wait to roast these babies!
And the breast I picked up at Wegmans? It’s in the freezer for another time!
Cooking for my grown kids is even more fun than cooking for them when they were young. They appreciate a fine meal these days. We can share wine with dinner and aperitifs before. Yes. I miss the days of Santa but these are the days when we can enjoy each other as adults.
Whatever preparations you are making for Christmas, I hope you are having a great time doing so!
True dat! Those memories linger on. I’m sooo sentimental that I cannot bring myself to get rid of this pretzel and photo ornament Oona made for me when she was in second grade. Look at the pretzels–they faded! And they are broken but my memories aren’t broken!
The holidays come and go but oh..those memories linger on!
Pingback: The Christmas Chronicles 2018. WTF?? All I Want is a Freakin’ Duck! | Atypical 60 – International Badass Activists
Ooooooh! Is there a space at the table for one More? I love duck 😍. What a lovely Christmas for you having all the family home – THIS is better than any present under the tree. Have a lovely family time and I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year x
Asian and middle East food are my favorite! I love food! Have a fabulous time dear!
With rapt attention I read your story about the Duck Chase. ;). Very funny!
Here they are sold everywhere, whole or as magret and even as aiguillette (magret without the fat and sliced as thin steaks).
I love magret de canard prepared with liqueur au caramel à la fleur de sel,a speciality from the Marais Poitevin (not far from La Rochelle). Otherwise you can also use honey. And cognac. Yum!
LOVE your blog!!! Please share your lemongrass chicken recipe!
Hi Deb: Here’s the link to the recipe I use–Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken I doctor it up a bit. I add more than a pinch of sugar because the fish sauce is very strong. It’s a great, great recipe! Enjoy!! XOXOXOXO
I love duck! My son works for Whole Foods in Morristown, NJ. I laughed when he took me there when I visited last Christmas. I live about an hour from the flagship store in Austin. If you’re ever in Austin, be sure to go. They have a wine bar with great wine. You can pick up whatever food you want – it’s almost like a cafeteria – take it to the wine bar, get your wine, and dine. It’s gone down, though, in my opinion, since Amazon took over.
Merry Christmas! Enjoy your duck and your family! I have plans to make the Cointreau Pound Cake tomorrow!
Hi Deb. I’m looking at the date of your comment and I am just getting around to answering you today–please don’t think I’m rude–it’s just been one crazy season here! My son used to go to the Whole Foods in Austin when he was at UT and working in Austin. My daughter lives in Cincinnati and there’s a Kroger with a wine bar. I was so happy to see that!
Oh man, I love duck so much and can’t, for the life of me, understand why it isn’t more popular. It’s better than chicken if you ask me! I hope the pound cake turned out well!! XOXOXOXOXOXO
Thank-you for such a wonderfully funny and truly spot-on description of the Whole Foods experience! I laughed so hard! We shop at our local one close to us here inToronto to buy their made-in-store nachos all the while dodging the regulars reading the labels on the green powders and puzzling over this organic carrot or that one. Love your blog!
Hi Gloria! LOL. I shudder whenever I enter Whole Foods. In the first place, most of the shoppers are so thin they look malnurished–and the price they pay for the food that they don’t eat amazes me. I have a thing about organic veggies. Once they are cooked, the germs are cooked out so I’ll buy the cheap stuff!!! XOXOXOXOX
I just wanted to thank you for the smiles and laughter you brought me today while I read your “Tales of the Duck.” Have a wonderful holiday with your family!
Thank you Micheline! My apologies for not replying sooner but it’s been very hectic here. Christmas was great and now it’s really empty here–but I’m getting a lot done. Happy New Year to you!!! XOXOXOX
You’re welcome and no worries about replying. I also had a particularly busy holiday season…Christmas festivities AND my son’s wedding! Whew! Looking forward to your posts in 2019. Happy New Year to you and yours!
Just what the holidays is all about…craziness…love it! Love your duck search. I’m sure it will be wonderful. I did have a good laugh on the Christmas Eve meal…when I was a kid, I thought my family was the only one to have Chinese food for Christmas Eve…what do I know?! Have a joyous holiday.
…holidays ARE…man, guess I really am tired…one more work day…yes!
wow, it sounds absolutely YUMMY!
We had a house fire on the evening of Dec. 7 and are displaced from our home for the next 6 months. So grateful we got out alive and our pets did too. No ill effects from smoke inhalation (I think). The good news is we have a detached garage with an apartment above it, so we can still live here on the property while our house is restored. I plan to make beef bourguignon over at my neighbor’s house on Christmas Eve, they will be out of town and we can use their oven and laundry! Our apartment has a microwave, refrigerator/freezer, a hot plate and toaster oven. All things considered there is so much to celebrate. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!!
So glad you are OK, but that is a horrible thing to happen, hope you have as good a Christmas / New Year as possible xxx
Hilarious description of those lululemon women, I love food (I love it a bit too much). We don’t have any major Christmas food habits – we eat hot smoked salmon on Christmas day (Bradan Rost, it involves a day trip up to Loch Fyne which is part of the joy as it is beautiful up there, it is also superb – Scotland does amazing salmon 🙂 ) . I have to agree with you – chilli is MEANT to have beans – but then I love all beans and pulses etc, we often have the most amazing (and very cheap) cannellini bean soup – tastes sublime but really it is very few ingredients – you’d never guess!
We’re having our big celebration with duck on Christmas Eve. My brother-in-law is Swiss and guess Christmas Eve is the big event of the holiday there. He says it’s not easy to get organic rabbit or duck in the states so he raises his own. Look forward to seeing how you prepare the duck. Sounds like a fun time at your house with all the kids. Have a merry Christmas!
TeeHee 😎 I _had_ to share your story with Hubbykins. He’s an Irish Catholic Lawng Guyland fella!
He remembers the duck & geese (potato, too) farms on “The Island”. Going with his Mother to pick out just the right one for Christmas dinner.
Merry Christmas from our house to yours! May your time with family be blessed with great joy & tender memories.
Oh yes the Wegman’s by me also has that separate meat freezer with oddities in it. I’ve seen some pretty funny customers’ reactions over there. I love duck but have never made it because it seems daunting. Maybe I’ll get up the nerve in the new year.
Your posts and photos about your vacation were just beautiful. Thanks for taking us along!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family!
I love your WTF, Duck piece this week. The entire time reading, I kept saying, ‘but Cathe, they have them at Whole Foods in Jenkintown!
ANd your descriptive paragraph had me in stitches…
Enjoy the time with the kids and Vincent. !
Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee 2019
Poor Catherine! Craziness all around! Praying a blessed Christmas to you and your family!
Happy new year CATHERINE,
Sorry for delay in post responses but have had a cold virus over the holiday period and not had time to savour your posts in my usual, attentive way.
I look forward to reading them thoroughly as from skim reading they look really enjoyable.
Take care ❤️