Summer has swept past me in a blur. But fortunately I have some of its sweeter moments frozen in time thanks to my trusty camera (which is much more reliable and accurate than my brain). This year, we took the … Continue reading →
Last Christmas, we ventured up to NH to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family. The most memorable part was the incredible ice skating with the family. Not to be outdone, Christmas 2010 with my husband’s family also included three days of beautiful skating in a different part of NH. And in true New England style, we had more than a foot of snow the day after Christmas.
Geared up for skating
Ready for the cold
The big girls help their southern cousin around the ice.
And some food, of course. We ate. And ate. You name it, we ate it. Prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, leg of lamb with broccoli and Hollandaise sauce, a whole ham with egg casserole for brunch. Shall I go on? Sticky buns, a gingerbread house, lemon tart, freshly baked pizelles…
We are home after almost a week of feasting with family in New Hampshire, and I’m happy to report that this was one of the best Christmases in recent memory. Here’s why:
A whole lake of freshly frozen black ice. It beckoned us to drive the 45 minutes to the nearest skate rental store so we could enjoy a classic New England Christmas. And it was so worth it. In my many years of traveling north for the holidays, I only remember one other year when we had these perfect conditions for smooth skating at Christmas. Usually the lake isn’t frozen or if it is, there has been snow or sleet, which completely ruins the icy surface, making for some bumpy skating. The ice was so clear, the kids even spied a frozen leaf a couple of inches down.
The second best part of our fabulous family festivities was the food. I didn’t take many photos of the meals – with 16 people in and around the kitchen, it was enough just to get dinner served. But here are two of our Christmas favorites: Sticky Buns and Brunswick Stew. I made both of these ahead of time so they just needed to be heated and served. I don’t really follow a recipe for the stew – I try to recall how my mother used to make it and alter it according to taste. However, recipe #4 on this website seems pretty close. Don’t be alarmed if you Google Brunswick Stew and see “squirrel” or “rabbit” in the recipe; I opted for the suburbanite’s version and used chicken. It’s fantastic with some country ham and cornbread or hush puppies.
The stickies are a tradition and I’ve learned to make them with the help of my bread machine. I use the “Sweet Dough” setting on my bread maker, but I’m not sure of the equivalent on others. The dough would also turn out well made by hand by softening the yeast in the water before adding the other ingredients, kneading, and rising until about double in size.
Candle-lit dinner for two—doesn’t that sound romantic? Now throw in about 10 more people (plus two dogs) and you’ve got this:
My brother and sister-in-law started this tradition of setting up folding tables on the dock, dressing them up, and voilà! Perfect alfresco evening. We had dinner outside both nights my cousins were with us in NH. The weather was outstanding and too beautiful to be indoors.
“And you thought the live lobsters were feisty?”
After a night of merriment, we awoke to my cousin cooking up a storm. Egg casserole, hot biscuits, and cheesy grits. What more could this half-southern girl ask for…except to eat this plate of goodness in my pajamas. Outside. Looking at the lake.
I cannot believe how websites vary in how to cook a lobster! This link will tell you how to boil, steam, or grill lobster, and it’s the closest one to normal I could find. Really, it’s not a big deal. I’ve been witnessing it since I was born and actually tossing the lobsters in the pot since I was old/brave enough to try (probably around 12). I even pulled live lobsters from the traps one summer working on Martha’s Vineyard (this was NOT enjoyable—lobsters don’t spring from the sea with bands on their claws). However, I still squirm when I take these leggy guys out of the bag and plunge them to their death. But my hesitation disappears the second I see the shells turn that enticing bright red…yum!
Boil water in a large pot with a lid (you may add salt if you like).
Melt the butter and slice lemon wedges. Set up butter bowls and a large bowl (the “Body Bowl”) on the table to hold shells.
Submerge lobsters into boiling water head first (keep the bands on the claws).
Boil for about 12 minutes.
Drain and serve. (Make sure your plates are large and rimmed because of the water that will come out of the lobsters.)
If you want to make it easier for your guests and minimize the amount of liquid that pours onto the plates when the lobsters are cracked, take a heavy knife and crack the claws without detaching them, then hold the lobster by the tail over the sink to drain before serving. You may also want to slit the underside of the tail lengthwise so the meat is easier to access.
Blueberry Peach Cobbler
from foodie plus four
1 quart of fresh wild blueberries, washed
4-6 fresh large peaches, peeled, sliced, and pitted