thundering majestically across the plain

14 for Christmas dinner, 9 of them sleeping in this house. Many cooks in the kitchen. Frantic dashes over to John and Mike’s for a table, chairs, and foodstuffs. My mom overfilling the blender with hollandaise and exploding steaming yellow goo all over one side of the kitchen. My grandmother Marzi’s impish twinkle when I asked her if she’d been good this year, just before going upstairs to fill stockings.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I’ve been so good.”


  • One of my mom’s home-raised turkeys (19 lbs), cooked with Farneth family methodology and flavorings from a fun Saveur recipe. (Note: despite what Saveur said, there is simply no way to integrate butter (a fat) and Madeira (an alcoholic liquid) simply by vigorous whisking. Melting, maybe, but not cold-whisking.)

  • Mashed (well, food-milled) potatoes with scallions. 5 lbs of potatoes shouldn’t have fed 14 people, but when I announced at the beginning of the meal that we were a little short, I scared everyone off of them. We still have some leftovers.

  • “Multicultural Stuffing.” Challah, chestnuts, sesame seeds, water chestnuts, parsley, sesame oil – it was like eating a whole pile of California cuisine. The bread cubes were a little too big, and I personally thought the stuffing was a little too busy, but the flavors were all tasty.

  • Slightly overcooked asparagus (my fault) with Exploding Blender Hollandaise a la My Mom. Exploding or not, I’m still using leftover hollandaise sauce two days later as my saturated-fat-of-choice.

  • Olive dinner rolls, Potato dill dinner rolls, Pear/Apple bread pudding and White chocolate/Dark chocolate bread pudding, a la John. Holy crap, these were good.

  • Curried Fruit – a Farneth family tradition, even though Kate dislikes it. Mom-Farneth brought the Lite canned fruit, but the only pre-made curry powder I had around was Penzey’s “Hot Curry,” and it was decided that making a curry would be too much trouble. Hot Curry turned out to be very, very tasty in the dish, though my grandmother found it too spicy.

  • Pumpkin pie, whipped cream from a swoopy ISI whipped cream maker I picked up at Kitchens Etc while they were going out of business, coffee, ice cream, cookies, diabetic shock.

By this point, the sheer volume of carbohydrates we’d eaten was weighing pretty heavily on us. The Farneths took off for points south and the rest of us collapsed.

Sunday morning Kate had to work, but I invited the Nodas and John and Mike over to have a late morning tea-and-leftovers brunch. I lit a fire and we sat around the giant lazy susan in the living room discussing death and christmas trees. (The Nodas think we should have cut off the asymmetric “leader” on the tree, but we like it.)

Decompressed in the afternoon by sitting with John and talking about this and that while attempting not to eat anything. The house seemed like a watering hole on the veldt after the wildebeest have cruised through on their annual migration – the edges are all muddied and trampled, the water is murky, and there are dirty footprints pointing to the herd, now receding off into the distance in their hybrid cars. (One Prius, one Civic.)

Now, two days later, my stomach may be shrinking back to a more reasonable size, though my near-constant grazing on the leftover pumpkin pie, madelines, cheese, hollandaise sauce, and cookies is not helping me regain any kind of healthful appetite.