Christmas 2011 Recap

We had a pretty lowkey and laidback Christmas at Mom & Dad’s — same ol’ same ol’ for a lack of better term.

This year I was happy to discover that not a lot of hullaballoo went into getting presents from Mom & Dad. Everyone got a little bit of money, one item they really wanted and a couple of $50 gift certificates to a local restaurant, Bear’s Den. OH and I forgot — the annual package of new socks in the stockings.

It sounds kind of strange, but you have no idea how happy it made me that my parents didn’t go all out on buying presents this year. I’ve been wishing for this to happen for the last five years and it’s finally come true. I kind of hope it stays this way from now on. I think the only reason that my parents kept on with the ridiculous number of gifts in the past was because of Baby Skywalker.

This year, I feel like everyone gave me the most awesome gifts ever. The “one gift” my parents Santa brought for me wasn’t actually on my wish list. In fact, it was a complete surprise that totally made me grin like an idiot. Apparently kitchen gadgets are a safe bet to give me and this year I got a Breville Personal Pie machine. It’s super cool! It’s kind of funny though, I don’t really make pies, so I’m kind of wondering if perhaps this was a hint for me to make Dad pies…? The only pie I make with any regularity is my Boxing Day bacon & turkey pie and that’s usually only after the holidays. Very rarely do I make it more than two to three times a year, tops.

Anyhow, the personal pie maker is so cool! I cracked open the box last night, rather late in the evening, and made my first pies with it! Last year, Miss R gifted me with a jar of her homemade pear mincemeat and I’d been saving it to use eventually in something, unsure as to what, but I knew that something brilliant would strike my fancy at some point. I even invited Mom & Dad over to partake in the pies and coffee with us to share in the frabulous occassion. I was a little worried that I might not like the taste of the mincemeat, but rationalised to myself that because it was homemade, it had to taste infinitely better than anything I’d ever had in my life before in the past — which to be honest, was pretty unpleasant from what I recall.

Worried that I wouldn’t have enough filling for the whole batch of pies, I added one chopped apple to the jar of pear mincemeat in a bowl just to stretch things a little bit further since the instructions recommended only using 1/3 cup of filling per pie and I only had a 500ml jar of mincemeat. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to add the extra chopped apple because the filling was packed pretty densely into the jar, but it made for a nice addition that lightened up the flavours a bit since I was unsure as to what to expect.

Two things: 1) WOW! OMG! HOMEMADE PEAR MINCEMEAT! 2) OMG! WOW! LITTLE BABY HOMEMADE PIES! I don’t think there’s much explaining required with those two points. But I must at least show a picture that I took tonight whilst we were at D&D:


Homemade Baby Apple Pie

I made a dozen apple pies for D&D to be had for dessert. This was my second attempt at homemade pie-making with my new toy. Last night I made four of the homemade pear mincemeat pies to try with my parents, and sent one home for Baby Bro. The Hubbs and I shared a pie, Dad originally only ate half of my parents’ shared pie but then ended up eating the whole thing after Mom declined hers ^_^

Methinks that perhaps the gift was a hint for me to make Dad homemade pies in the future — I am especially excited to be making homemade meatpies, as is Dad! I’ll be trying my hand at meatpies for the first time for Friday lunch when the girls come over with the bebehs. If I’m feeling exceedingly ambitious, I’ll try another batch of dessert pies. All I know for now is that I have 2 packages of bison stew meat defrosting and I’ll have to find a recipe that will show off my toy to its best abilties… looks like I’ll have to make a lot of pie crust again, too. The recipe I’ve used is a bit excessive, to say the least. I got it off the Breville website and just so you know how insane it really is, it’s: 1 cup of butter to 2 1/2 cups of flour+ 1 Tbsp sugar!! But at the same time, damn does it make for a really tasty pie crust — I may continue using it as my base for dessert pies, but for meatpies I think I’m going to test out my fave recipe that I use the piecrust for the Boxing Day pie in the pie maker.

As to the other gifts I received from my fam and The Hubbs, my Christmas list this year consisted of nothing but cookbooks and that’s exactly what I got — cookbooks out the wazzoo and nothin’ but cookbooks :D I honestly didn’t want anything else.

I’ve discovered that I am absolutely smitten with the new cookbooks out there that have become wonderful travel adventures into other countries. Since I haven’t exactly been capable of exploring the world mysef, I’ve become an armchair traveller through cookbooks and I’ve absolutely fallen in love. Of course, it also gives me a little bit of heartache, to say the least, because I am desperately wanting to go to all these countries I’ve been reading about to experience the culture and (street) foods first-hand. The travel stories, the beautiful landscape photography from each of the countries visited, and of course the food porn gets me totally lost and immersed for hours.

Actually, it might be a little bit embarassing to think of how many cookbooks I actually received this year now that I think about it. At what point do people start to question my choice in literature and the quantity in which I collect these lovely tomes? Am I allowed a free pass because I can’t travel like a normal person would?

Here’s my Christmas book list that I received, in no particular order:
Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal
The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts
Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes
My Vietnam: Stories and Recipes
Jamie’s Great Britain
Bought, Borrowed & Stolen

So far I’ve read Jamie’s Food Escapes from cover to cover and am excited to try a few of the recipes in the book. I kind of like how his books have had an accompanying tv show, which means I get even more engrossed in the travelling and recipes in the book. At the time, I didn’t realize that Food Escapes even had a book, I was just enjoying watching the episodes I had stumbled upon on Youtube a few months back. I know all of his shows that air, a good number of the recipes are actually posted on Channel 4 UK, so I was pretty excited when The Hubbs told me he saw the book instore when he was doing some Christmas shopping a few weeks ago.

A good example of that is the smoked trout dip with the mini baby yorkies I made two weeks ago. I still can’t believe how incredibly amazing that recipe was and I still crave it. Maybe I should make it again on Friday and serve it with melba toast rounds because it’s just so damn tasty and to be honest, I think I actually prefer eating it that way. As much as I like baby yorkies (and I like yorkies a lot!), I find the crunchiness of the melba toast is actually a nicer contrast to the thick spread… but that might be getting a bit too ambitious at this point if I’m planning on making those meatpies.

So that about sums up my Christmas! It was low key, quiet and I felt just the right amount of spoiled by my parents, my brothers and The Hubbs.

What’s up for New Year’s Eve? That I still don’t know, but I should probably find out sooner rather than later if I am going to be having my parents over for dindin like I did last year because Baby Bro mentioned he’s considering going on a snowboarding trip for New Year’s with friends again. I still have one prime rib bison roast remaining in the deep freeze, which is all that remains of our bison stash, and it would be nice to repeat last year’s menu for New Year’s Eve, again this year.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas spent the way they wanted, with the friends & family they cherish the most.

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