Christmas Round-Up 2014

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I thought my generous amount of time off for Christmas would be an excellent opportunity to catch up on all the blog posts I hadn’t gotten around to writing during my first couple weeks of work. I pictured nice play-by-plays of all of the extravagant meals I would have planned, complete with pictures taken by an actual camera, and some of my favourite gluten-free Christmas recipes. What actually happened was that we all got sick, every day just flew by, and I cooked a lot but didn’t take a single photo because I was either up to my elbows in raw turkey carcass and my kitchen was in a state of perpetual disaster, or because I really wanted to relax and enjoy my family and our holidays instead of worrying about taking pictures of sautéed brussels sprouts.

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For the most part, my food turned out great. I did a dry brine on my turkey because I was cooking dinner at my aunt’s, and we didn’t arrive at her house until Christmas Eve. The beauty of the dry brine is that it can be done in as little as 8 hours (as opposed to three days – see Thanksgiving post). I made a simple mixture of kosher salt, pepper, sage, and garlic; gave the bird a nice massage with it, and then put it in the fridge and headed off to church. The unappealing aspect of this method is that general wisdom suggests leaving the turkey in your fridge uncovered in order for the skin to dry out (leading to crispier skin when roasting), meaning you have to clear quite a wide berth in order to keep stray limbs from brushing up on any other food in your fridge (and obviously there is tons because you are cooking a turkey dinner). I don’t know why I have this obsession with getting crispy golden skin on my turkeys when not a single person in my family eats it. In the end I preferred the results of the traditional liquid brine, its flavour edged out the dry brine in terms of both meat and gravy.

I think the best way for me to summarize my holidays, culinary events and other, is to make a list a la Bridget Jones’ Diary. This is a broader picture of what went down from the 19th of December to the 4th of January, in no particular order.

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CHRISTMAS ROUND-UP (stats apply to my immediate family only)

Sisters home from vet school/the coldest place in the world, thus signifying the beginning of Christmas: 1

Oven fires: 1

Family Members Sick: 3 out of 4, plus Grandma

Days added onto vacay because of illness, collectively: 5

Hospital Visits: 3

Shopping done by my father: none

Turkeys fully cooked on first try: 0

Meat thermometers functioning on Christmas day: 0

Bottles of red wine consumed: unknown

Boxes of Purdy’s given/received: 18 and 16, respectively.

Sugar cookies iced with icing made of raw egg whites that I then fed to my elderly grandparents and other extended family members, later learning that the eggs were also a month older than their expiration date: roughly 50

Pounds of butter used over course of holiday: unknown

Watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: twice

Watched Love Actually with my Grandma: once, awkwardly

Tarts consumed (butter and maid-of-honor varieties): approx. 6 dozen

Family Christmas Bingo 2014 winners: Frankincense and Moore (1st), Polar Baras Express/FrostBlights (2nd), and The Cousin Eddies (3rd). Great success.

Short term/permanent grudges formed as result of FCB ‘14: 0

Blind dates: 1

Ferries taken (one-way trips): 10 human fares plus 2 car fares ($260 value)

Flights taken (single flights): 11 (Kiewit incurred costs, in addition to unknown amounts of cash and airmiles expended)

Flights rescheduled to accommodate sick family members: 1

Dog fights: 1

Beautiful, heavy-duty professional All-Clad pans gifted to Alex: 1!!!

As you can see, it was a very good Christmas for the Priers. I hope yours was great too; that you ate with abandon and watched Love Actually sans grandmother. Happy New Year!

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WAC: Kelowna Edition

WAC: Kelowna Edition

Kate and I drove to Kelowna last weekend for a little Easter celebration, wedding planning, and to scare the crap out of Megan (who didn’t know I was coming).
Kate was going to pick me up at 11 so we could hit the road and make it to her mom’s for dinner. By 12:30, when she had finished having brunch with some guy (there was a 45 minute wait at the diner! so they waited…), she picked me up, and we made our first stop 5 minutes later at Coquitlam Centre to go to Target, buy some stretch pants and grab some ‘bucks for the road. We pulled out of town around 2.
So then we were driving. Yay! The wind (air conditioning) was blowing through our hair. Next stop: Hope! Was sure at this point everything was going to be smooth sailing and creme eggs. But then we got hungry for lunch. Asked Kate if she’s ever had a burger from Milestones, and she hadn’t, so wouldn’t that be a great lunch! Except for our next exit was Merritt. Forgot that there isn’t anything in Merritt except for three gas stations and a building that has a giant Elvis mural on it. But then I remembered that they have a Dominos, and that last time Daniel and I drove through there (the only time), we saw that Dominos now carries gluten-free pizza crusts. We also saw that they were closed. SO Kate and I were going to try it.
We ordered. I emphasized the required precautions. The girl ignored me. So we went outside and did jumping jacks until our lunch was prepared (I am careful to always stretch and get some brisk exercise at every stop on a road trip. This prevents leg cramps, blood clots, etc. Is akin to getting blood thinners while sitting for days on end in hospital, or always taking the little cup of water offered to you on even the shortest of flights – it’s just good common sense.)
Soon we were back in lovely ginormous truck, munching away on our yummy pizza. Happy. Katie, woeful celiac who feels like she can never find anything to eat and is often forced to cheat and eat gluten when she is drunk, thinks pizza is great. It was that good crust that is in the middle of being thin and fluffy, and it was really greasy and cheesy, so tasted like real take-out pizza. Since my last little health fiasco I have not had any food that wasn’t researched, cooked, measured, and then recorded in a diary myself before consumption, so this was a very special occasion. Noticed Kate was on her way to scarfin down the whole pizza, so decided to help myself to a second piece. Why not? We were road trippin. We were Thelma and Louise. If i’m going to have a second piece, I’m going to pick the one with the most bacon. That piece also happened to be the piece with the LONGEST BLACKEST STRAND OF HAIR BAKED RIGHT INTO THE CHEESE.
We gagged a lot. I threw it out the window, as to not discourage us from eating the rest of the pizza. Which we did, about an hour later when we were able to forget about that sick hair.
We arrived in Kelowna. As we drove up to my Aunty Tanya’s house I took off my seatbelt and crawled under the front seat of the truck so that nobody would see me when we pulled up. Kate hopped out and called Megan outside for her big surprise. Megan (who hadn’t seen her sister since Christmas), stood in the front doorway and said “nooo, it’s wet out there.” So Kate piggy-backed her to the truck and said “open the door I have a surprise for you!” and Meg says (whiny voice) “is it candy?” Then she opened the door and she was so shocked! She was confused. And then she was overcome with tears of joy. Joy because her maid-of-honour-assistant had arrived to grant her wedding wishes! And because her regular maid-of-honour is mostly a (cute) figurehead (just kidding Kate!!!! Best MOH ever.)
The next day I was treated to lunch by the Schlueter Fam at the very adorable El Dorado Hotel. When we sat down, Kate sadly pointed out that while “GF” was marked on the menu, the only items that fell under this category were salads. Upon closer inspection, we found they actually offered gluten free buns, pizza crust, AND fish and chips! And I mean fish AND chips. Not grilled fish and salad, but deep fried fish and deep fried fries.
We decided our best course of action was to order the smoked salmon pizza and a two-piece F’n’C to share. Our food came and the fish looked absolutely 100% like the real regular wonderful beer-battered McCoy. Told Kate she probably shouldn’t eat the ketchup, so she ate all the tarter sauce instead. She was happy with that, she’s learning the ropes. The fries were those good fat ones I haven’t had in so long. And they had a long blondish hair nestled in the bowl with them.
We didn’t let it ruin our trip but like seriously what are the chances?

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