Perhaps the most spare Christmas I’ve ever had has been one of the best: breakfast with Husband, a rockin’ Christmas service at Hope Chapel Kane’ohe, cooking all day (jook for a sick friend plus our modest Christmas dinner), takin’ care of business. When all of us were more flush, Christmas used to be insane: the living room would be a so full of crumpled Christmas paper and ribbon that you’d have to wade through it. This year, we are all flung to the winds from Hawaii to Alaska to California to Mississippi and Tennessee. Presents were few. And I feel so blessed I could burst. It’s not about THINGS.
Received a great little poem from a co-worker of my husband’s who has always been so kind to me:
Thank God for Dirty Dishes
Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We’re eating very well
With home, health, and happiness,
I shouldn’t want to fuss;
By the stack of evidence,
God has been very good to us.
Amen, Johanna! Mahalo for that.
Made the Meyer lemon meringue pie; it takes 8 eggs. You can find the recipe at www.notquiteNigella.com. A few tips if you decide to try it: If you like really tart lemon filling, don’t make this; Meyer lemons are much more aromatic and on the sweeter side of acid. Follow the recipe for the lemon filling, don’t panic, as I did, when it doesn’t thicken much. I put in more cornstarch and lost that beautiful gloss. My husband, who has no culinary training yet has one of the best palates I’ve ever encountered: Frown. Far-off gaze. “Hmmmm. Something . . . ” “Not tart enough?,” I asked. “No…..” “Too much cornstarch?,” I asked, miserably. “Yes! That’s it!” My face falls. “I’m sure it will still taste great,” he said, gamely.
The meringue works impeccably. But it makes a ton; I’d do it with 6 egg whites instead of 8; use 2 egg whites for something else; adjust other ingredient accordingly.
Now I gotta figure out what to do with the other dozen Meyer lemons. Maybe I’ll stand against the wall and Husband can lob them at me saying, “Must NOT use too much cornstarch!”
On the plus side, the turkey broth I made after Thanksgiving got all used up so I have a few millimeters of room in freezer. And the saor (a Venetian dish of seafood, onions wilted in olive oil, flavored with vinegar and flecked with golden raisins and pine nuts). It is so easy and so delicious and so unexpected to anyone who hasn’t been to Venice, just pupu it with slices of good country-style bread.
Top 10 reasons not to cook while delirious with happiness: I danced over to one of two pots on the stove and …. poured the pine nuts into the jook!. I had to skim the top off and go through the melted rice to pick out the pine nuts with tweezers. I think even God was laughing. (But, actually, I tasted it, and the pine nuts lent some lovely, slightly sweet texture surprises to the creamy rice soup.)
I decided to make it easy on myself: I didn’t kick Husband and computer off the dining room table, crawl into the storage space to unearth the Christmas plates, set a beautiful table. We’re eating on the coffee table while watching a favorite movie, “Love, Actually.” We’re not having anything complicated: a roast chicken stuffed with Meyer lemons, parsley, rosemary, onions. We grew the herbs ourselves.
The chicken was hilarious: It had no shape at all; when I pulled it out of the package what had looked like a plump bird fell flat and its legs and wings flopped open like a fat man falling exhausted into bed. I laughed so hard I forgot to take a picture. I had to use a mile of kitchen string to truss it into some kind of shape. Note in picture at right how it’s little butt cheeks are exposed, like a baby that left the house without its diaper.
With this we’ll have roasted green beans and Grandma’s bread stuffing; called in Portuguese recheao (roo-SHAY-duh). Lemon meringue pie is in the fridge.
Well, I’m off to check the chickie, nuzzle my honey and continue the running count of my blessings.
OKAY HERE’S THE P.S. ON THE PIE: Aaaaaaaagh! The filling tasted like cornstarch and nothing but. The meringue wept (because I didn’t bake it long enough or maybe because it was embarrassed for me) and it was a soggy mess. Husband ate his slice happily. I took one bite and … laughed. I have never been good at pies. Cakes, yes. Bread, yes. Pies I can’t do. Nothing has changed but my attitude.