Saturday, January 3, 2009

So This is Christmas?

When you decide to no longer celebrate a major cultural holiday, you tend to get asked a myriad of questions about your choice of abstention, ranging from politely inquisitive to indignantly offended. I won't tell you why I choose to not celebrate Christmas, and hope that adds to the mystique a bit. What I do celebrate, however, are gratuitous days off of work; days free of obligation and responsibility. Without having to go to see family, or partner's families, Christmas has been just one of those days for about six years. 

This was a stellar Christmas, in that regard. I stayed home, hung out with two of my best freinds, and saw my father. It was like I was the Christ-child and they were the Three Kings, bringing me gifts of humor, wisdom, and books. Marisa, who, no offense, is always good for a laugh, came by and we watched some older episodes of Top Chef. I made her an omelette, showcasing the absurdly fast and delicious technique that Julia demonstrates below (thanks Ruby for telling me about this!). Marisa had left some fakin' bacon in my freezer, which finally got used, relinquishing space that will be better used taken up by real meat. I think I've gotten her hooked on Top Chef.

Nearly right after she split, the Professor came by, and we watched more Top Chef! We also drank some beers. As always, a visit from the Professor is full of great discussion. My father came by as I was making dinner for myself, and hung out with the Professor a bit. We switched gears, and watched some Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares -- the British version with all the f-bombs! -- as the Professor drifted away into the ether, in search of neck-bearded Kiwi's and former roommates. Pops brought me two books, a massive tome of the works of Gibran, and a cookbook from Jamie Oliver, whom I'd never heard of, as well as this tiny camera tri-pod that I've been trying to hustle off of him since June. The book, Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life, is actually pretty informative, and the recipes are broken up into seasons, based on what each yields in his home garden. After a stretch of recipes, on say, tomatoes, he describes how he grows his tomatoes, which varieties, and where to order them. I like that.

For dinner, I had a Niman Lamb Shank, that was braised for most of the day, and was finished with a glaze made from a reduction of the braising liquid and honey. I'm not much of a chard eater, but I figured I should give it a chance (Hey, it was Christmas!). I picked some chard, and kale, which got blanched and saute├Ęd lightly in duck fat. I did the same thing to the fingerlings. Duck fat and potatoes are friends. I hope we continue to carry these lamb shanks, because they are delicious, and I'd like to do more with them. I wasn't the only one eating these shanks that night, although, maybe the only one alone. This was a pretty nice meal to eat in front of people who had already eaten, as well. Lamb shanks just look primal, and have that handy bone grip.
Shiny shank.

Chard, you're alright. 

So, this is Christmas, and a happy New Year.


Laurie said...

I love Jamie Oliver!!!!!
Jamie's Kitchen is one of my favorite food related tv productions ever - it was a British documentary that replayed on Food Network (back when I had "real" cable). He trained fifteen unemployed/homeless young adults as chefs, and they opened a successful restaurant. I like Gordon Ramsay, but chefs (and anyone with "marketable skills") like Oliver could actually change the world. Find it!

From his site:
"The restaurant is still up and running, we've got more Fifteens in Amsterdam, Cornwall and Melbourne and, with the help of the Fifteen Foundation charity which I set up, we are on our fifth intake of students at the moment in London. I'm really proud of them all and I'm so glad that it all worked out as I thought it was going to fall flat and break the bank at any minute!"

wv - "tsheded" - as in Dang cat! Tsheded all over my hoodie!

Flapjacks said...

wow, that's a pretty noble charity. i like him more already.

TexasDeb said...

Jamie Oliver was originally known as the Naked Chef (and YEAH I watched his show the first time just to see what that was all about). He kept saying that regular guys ought to be able to cook well for themselves and their friends and then he would do just that with/for some of his "blokes", fixing some "dead simple" something or other that looked good enough to make you watch the show with a napkin handy.

That cookbook has some great recipes in it and I hope to be reading about you trying some of them in the weeks/months to come.

As to Cmas I am happy you enjoyed your day(s) off and the company of good friends as well. Doesn't get much better than that holiday or not.

And I totally love the WV redo so I'll try my hand although I'm not practiced at it. Trisma, as in it always takes so much longer to get those trisma lights down than to put them up.

Iris said...

Jamie has always seemed pretty cool. Thank you for your Christmas observation and Julia's omelette school! "Observing" is my 2009 word of the year. Cheers to 2009.

Kevin said...

johnny, tell julia i need to see that omelette flipping method one more time.

i've almost got it down.


Heather's Moving Castle said...

Thanks for making me drool! We enjoyed seeing you last week. I'm glad you are living life on your terms and doing so well.


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