Friday, December 26, 2008

Don't Forget the Sweet Potatoes...

Most of the evening and day were spent cooking and cleaning the apartment in preparation for our feasting time.  Our group in person was small and intimate, just Alba, Jen Tong, William, and me.  Even though there was just a handful of us, the apartment seemed brimming with good vibrations and well wishes; as though we were in fact joined by all the countless friends and families celebrating and feasting, our tables conjoined and connected across the folds of time and space.

Above is a quick digital collage I did of a couple of different pictures of me.  All of the pictures taken early on in the evening were all blurry.  It felt like I was a whirlwind of productivity, cleaning and cooking and making ready for the meal.  I felt in motion and the pictures reflect that.

After all the cleaning and moving furniture around, the above picture is how the apartment turned out.  Very warm and cozy.  (You might notice that this isn't just one picture of the room, but three that were digitally collaged and mended together.  I wanted to show a panoramic of the area.)  The pictures were taken with the overhead fluorescent light in the kitchen turned off. 

This picture of William relaxing, Jen Tong sipping on sweet tea and holding the walking stick I found the other night, and Alba online, was taken while I was prepping dinner in the kitchen and had to have the over-head light on.

Of all the pictures that were taken last night, this is perhaps one of my favorites.  It's blurry, but I still like it.  I snapped this of Jen Tong without her noticing.  She looks very lost in thought and reflective.  

One of the things that I made for dessert was a wine poached pear and apple tart.  I tried to use the apple quarterer, but the welding snapped and broke!  I was so disappointed.  Luckily the knives that Beki sent made quick work of the apples and pears.  Above is the broken and shameful apple quarterer.  After I cut the pears and apples, keeping them in a lemon-lime concoction, (so they wouldn't turn brown), I poached them in a mixture of brown sugar, a sweet white wine, water, a vanilla bean (halved and scraped), star anise pods, lavender blossoms, crushed dried hibiscus flowers, and Vietnamese cinnamon. When they had been baked for an hour in this combination, I removed the pear and apple pieces and reduced the liquid.  While the liquid was reducing, I rolled out the pastry crust, baked it for a few minutes, and then arranged the apple and pear slices.  I melted in some butter in the reduction sauce and used this to glaze the tart.  The above picture at the bottom, is of the finished tart.  

As the title of this post suggests, I forgot the sweet potatoes.  I heated them up in the microwave and ended up blocking it with the hot crock-pot and forgot that they were still inside.  For dinner, I made a stuffing, biscuits, slow-cooked beef in a hearty tomato and onion sauce, asparagus, homemade orange cranberry sauce, and deviled eggs.  For dessert I made the tart and some sugar cookies.

During dinner, we decided to make a Prosecco toast to friends, family, love, laughter and life.  (The second toast was for all of you out there in Blog Land and for all of those who couldn't join us in person.)  I'm really glad that we decided to get together after-all and feast with wild abandon.  It was a perfectly mellow and fun time.



Dessert some how didn't seem over yet.  Not without chocolate.  It just didn't seem right.  During dinner, I had mentioned a favorite Southern breakfast of mine, chocolate gravy biscuits.  We had some biscuits left over from dinner.  So, I whipped up a quick batch of chocolate gravy and demonstrated just how to eat it.  Below is a picture of the yummy results.  It was very tasty with the after-dinner coffee.

Our post-dinner plans consisted of us all relaxing and chatting over good wine and great coffee (courtesy of Gaea from Ojai, California).  Jen Tong and I had a "design consultation" and discussed the necklace I would make for her.  Alba and William discussed Spanish literature and poetry, talking about Borges and Lorca and the like.  It was a good night and a very happy Christmas.

7 comments:

Jobee said...

So lovely that you all shared your time together. Looks like you all had a wonderful time and as always the food looked great!! Brightest wishes for the New Year- thought I'd get it in early as my family is travelling up to Scotland for Hogmanay and might not be near the internet for a while...

kate mckinnon said...

Lovely post, Andrew. Your foody posts always leave me wishing for a recipe! I want to make chocolate gravy...

Thanks for the pictures of your evening.
Looking forward to spending some time with you in Tucson.

Nicki said...

hey andrew, do you still have that last spot in your charm club? Santa did not listen very well when i put my list together. Otherwise i'll join the next round. Nicki

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Jobee,

Our time was pretty dang good. I had a lot of laughs and had a really nice time. I hope you had a good time as well with your family. Thanks again for your holiday present. Happy Yule! I'll blog about it tomorrow when I can get a good picture.

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Kate McKinnon,

Chocolate gravy is easy. I'm not sure that I make it the way that my grandma makes it, but I like it. First you melt, between half a stick of butter to a whole stick of butter. Depends how rich and creamy and buttery you want it. I usually go for a whole stick. Then you whisk in three tablespoons of flour. When it turns into a paste, you add half a cup of sugar and fourth cup of dutch process cocoa powder. I prefer semi-sweet. I whisk this together with milk. I kind of eye-ball it, but it's around two cups. It should start thickening up. Once it's to the desired thickness (keep in mind that it'll get thicker while it cools), remove it from the heat and add a couple teaspoons of vanilla. Whisk it together. I like to add the vanilla at the end so the flavor is pretty strong and not cooked off.

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Nicki! All the spots are full! I'm sorry. Maybe next time. Your package is on its way to you!

jennifer said...

looks wonderful!