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The Christmas Goose

For Jews, we’ve led a very busy Christmas season. First we had our faux-Christmas on the second day of Hanukkah in Chicago – when we traditionally exchange gifts, under the Christmas tree, with my dad and stepmom and siblings. (Nancy, my stepmom, is not Jewish – and there is a long standing, though somewhat odd now that I’m grownup and look back on it, tree tradition in my immediate family as well.) Then the last two days, the actual Christmas, we had both Christmas Eve dinner with Adam’s brother Daniel and his wife’s family, and Christmas Day dinner with my great aunt Lee, my grandfather Hank and his girlfriend Yvonne, and Lee’s niece and nephew Barbara and Dieter from Germany.

And so today I had my first-ever Christmas Goose. Apparently there is a tradition in Lee’s branch of the family whereby Barbara and Dieter come from Germany to spend the holiday with Lee and, while hanging out and enjoying both NYC and Lee’s country house, cook an absolutely fantastic holiday dinner. And apparently, for many years now, this tradition has involved goose. Tonight was no exception – two geese, in fact, with very German rotkraut (red cabbage), knoedel (potato dumplings) and beet soup (much to Adam’s dismay), among other wonderful dishes. The goose, which I was prepared to dislike (I don’t like wild-ish meat of any kind, though I do on occasion like duck), was really amazing – tender and moist and even a tiny bit sweet, while being decadently rich. The entire meal was astounding and I am still, four hours later, so full I can barely even write about food. Maybe I can convince Barbara and Dieter to adopt me for another holiday – perhaps they want to spend Memorial Day in New York as well?

Last night’s meal, at Daniel and Andrea’s home, was also really fantastic – salt-roasted beef tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, a very flavorful lemongrass/chayote soup, and hand-carmelized creme brulee for dessert. Followed by a rousing game of Scattergories – Raphaele and I came in only second, but Adam came in last. (Finally, I beat Adam at a game!)

All this on the heels of Thursday’s latke party at our house (sans Adam, sadly, who was Bright Night-ing in Providence), where Tamara, Marni and I fried roughly 75 latkes, nearly all of which were gone before the end of the night. My house still smells like frying oil!

This week will have to be a salad week. But it was so worth it!

Backtracking just a little– our trip to Chicago

I just wanted to backtrack a little– last week we went to Chicago to visit with Stephanie’s family for Chanukkah. Her family has a huge to-do about Chanukkah, with a traditional dinner, the traditional opening of the presents, and a lot of other events.

While we were there,we had a very busy social schedule, which was a lot of fun– a synagogue visit to the huge Chicago reform visit Sinai, where they worship on Sundays and on the second night of Chanukkah they lit all of the lights because it would be more beautiful… I mean, why not just worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster because you find it more festive? (And of course, the secret thrill of being touched by his noodly appendage.)

We also went to the first birthday party of Stephanie’s best friends daughter Lana. It was held at a traditional Russian banquet hall, which was in a strip mall area in the Northern Chicago Suburbs. The food was lavish, and the party was fun (although I don’t speak Russian at all, and that was the main language spoken. Lana translated all of the many toasts for us.)

I got some very thoughtful gifts from Stephanie’s parents, including some old clown posters that are going to look great in the kitchen!~– errr… well, my studio, if I can ever get it finished….

One of the things that was pretty interesting is that just about everyone at the big Channukah dinner had read our blog, and knew all sorts of details about the house that I’d forgotten that I’d written down. It was nice to be among our family and readers…

Turkey inadequacy

So here I am, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, expecting 10-12 guests in our house (including most of Adam’s immediate family and a nice repesentation from mine), and I haven’t started shopping. In fact, I only even started making the shopping list this morning, and while I was making my list decided to call Fairway to order a turkey. Because of course we don’t want to get caught without a turkey!

So I get on the phone with the turkey department (which is separate from the meat department, I learn when I try to also order a brisket a few minutes later – but briskets are always in stock and so no need to order, it turns out), and ask for a 16-lb turkey. So she says, “what kind of turkey?” And I’m thinking, “a turkey turkey?” Fortunately I don’t say anything quite that stupid – instead I say “um, I don’t know, what kinds of turkeys are there?” Then silence. The woman on the other end is completely dumbstuck by my question. Apparently everyone else in the world except me knows that there are different kinds of turkeys. She asks again, “what kind of turkey?” and I ask, “can you tell me about them?” Silence again. “Hold on.” Next a man gets on the phone and tells me about the four main types of turkeys they carry – basic Maple Crest, Murray’s farm-raised preservative-free, Grateful Harvest 100% organic, and kosher. He gives me a bit of detail about each and pricing and I tell him I want the Murray’s. “Oh no, m’am, let me give you back to her to order – I just wanted to educate you a little bit about these turkeys.” Well, then, now I’ve been educated! The woman gets back on the phone and asks how big the turkey should be – she says “do you want 8 by 10, 10 by 12, or 16 by 20″ – which I’m thinking is the dimensions of the turkey to fit in the pan. And I’ve got a 16” roasting pan….

Anyway, it turns out that was the poundage and with only slightly more difficulty I manage to order a 16-20 pound Murray’s turkey and it will be available to pickup on Tuesday. Which will be a most unpleasant day to be at Fairway. I’d better get most of the shopping done this weekend! Back to the shopping list.