It's good to be queen. That's how both of us felt this holiday season, enjoying our various holiday meals with one another and with extended family.
On Christmas Eve, after we got home from church we made a small beef tenderloin -- very simply; just sprinkled with Montreal seasoning, browned on the stovetop and then roasted until just barely medium rare -- and had that with steamed spinach and a small orange teardrop squash that I'd halved and steamed prior to going to church, then finished off in the oven with about a quarter-cup orange juice, two tablespoons lemon juice, maybe a heaping teaspoon each of orange and lemon zest and a good shot of sherry. If you're tired of the usual sweet-sticky baked winter squash, this makes a tangier and more interesting treatment. (Another, totally savory alternative to the brown sugar/maple syrup/honey thing: some minced garlic, sage and Parmesan cheese.)
Per the Birthday Girl's request, we -- FT, her son and Almost-Daughter-in-Law and I -- went to a sushi place in Saginaw for my birthday. Great food -- rather than eating dinner per se, we shared appetizers like edaname, spicy squid and tempura shrimp, then ordered a huge tray of assorted sushi. Ahi tuna is my absolute favorite, but I found myself marveling at how much I enjoyed eel. (There's a story in my family about one of my great-aunts cooking eel for a homesick great-uncle longing for eel like Mutti used to make, and Auntie subsequently having to throw the pan away afterward because the eel was so oily and fishy and generally horrible. So I came to the table with an anti-eel prejudice.)
This weekend we spent the day -- actually, we wound up spending a night and a day, having been caught in a big mid-Michigan blizzard and deciding not to head home -- with Fellow Traveler's sister and extended family. One of FT's family traditions is having Mexican-food day when the clan comes together over the winter holidays, so on Saturday we feasted on cheese enchiladas, chicken mole, beans and huge bowls of homemade salsa and guac. (Without giving too much away, FT's secret mole ingredient is a sweet chocolate bar added to the garlicky stewed chicken/bottled mole mixture.)
Our new household New Year's Eve tradition is seafood -- lots of seafood. This year, taking advantage of the short window of opportunity for obtaining fresh clams, we bought a bag of them for steaming and served them with lemon-garlic butter. Oh, my. Oh, my. Then -- in homage to the seagoing stars of our new favorite TV show, The Most Dangerous Catch, we made ourselves some sweet, succulent Alaskan crab legs. A few crudites and crackers, some nice Riesling to wash it all down, and we had ourselves a party...even if we didn't make it to either the lobster course (postponed until lunch today) or the dropping of the ball in Times Square.
Today is radical relaxation day at Cold Comfort Cottage; enjoying the Rose Bowl Parade, the Christmas tree and a household that's finally settling down after a very busy week-and-a-half.