Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Lights

Walking around with Beau in the neighborhood, I'm astonished at how many houses are sporting Christmas lights. It seems like every other house around here has Christmas lights ranging from quiet good taste to over-the-top exuberant. There are white icicle lights, colored icicle lights, illuminated reindeer, net lights covering hedges, large-lit candy canes, creches of every description, and then there are the houses with enough lights to qualify for a place on the Vegas strip. I love the fact that so many people celebrate the season with Christmas lights. In New York you could see lights in some apartment windows, but you had to go to Brooklyn and Queens to see street and after street of houses lit up for Christmas. These pictures won't do the houses justice as I don't have a fast-enough shutter to get the lighting right. But you get the idea.

My cookbook blog has been getting some media attention. A Lexington, KY paper asked me how I made my selections of the best cookbooks published in 2009. Then a radio show that focuses on food topics, asked me to appear on the show by phone where I spent an hour talking about every book on the list. It's airing again on Saturday. Then I got a call from the food section of the Oregonian asking me about my favorite and least favorite kitchen gadgets. They are going to give my cookbook blog a plug. All this means I'll have to work harder to make the changes at the blog I think it needs. I have a big stack of books to get through, cook from and comment on.

The Tiger Woods scandal continues without abating. Now the ladies are squabbling about which one has more priority in his life (#11 think she's got more equity in Tiger than #14 or 15), Tiger's been named Athlete of the Decade (and the top dick of the new millennium), his endorsement deals are shrinking, and Tiger's decided to put his golf clubs away for awhile to get back to the business of healing his family. Meanwhile, his wife is now in Sweden with the boys (who knows where Tiger will be). I've learned the Rachel--the first girl implicated has been "surgically enhanced," and everyone I know is sending me Tiger jokes--the real cultural barometer of just how big this scandal truly is. It's not that I'm worried that Tiger's philandering will push off news that all those world leaders haven't come up with a plan to combat the ever-diminishing resources of our planet or that those boneheads in the Senate are not going to give us a national healthplan, or that I'm pissed at President Obama for lengthening our stay in Afghanistan. Those unendingly dreary and unsolvable problems just make us aware that our leaders have totally failed us. But Tiger's story pulls us out of our despair. It's fun--a diversion--from the fact that banks still won't lend money, no matter how qualified you are and that there's nobody in Washington with the cojones to kick some banker butt back into reality. No wonder I'm gonna spend a lot of time at the movies this Christmas.

Made gnocchi for the first time last weekend. So cool. It's a bit time consuming, boiling potatoes and peeling them while their still hot; ricing them and then adding flour, egg, salt and pepper; forming the dough; quartering it and rolling the quarters into ropes, then cutting into smaller bite-size pieces. I even rolled them on the tines of a fork in the traditional way. I ended up with more than 100 pieces, half of which I froze. The rest were gently poached in water, drained and then finished in a saute pan with brown butter and sage. It was a great first course; which was followed by a well-roasted chicken, green beans finished in butter and lemon and my buddy Mike, brought over a buttermilk pie with raisins and a meringue top--a deliciously old-fashioned finish to a truly delicious dinner.

Off to a publishing holiday party this evening, and on Saturday, I'm going to a friend's 50th birthday celebration and then off to John Baker's annual Christmas extravaganza. John loves Christmas and has collected ornaments and other Christmas effluvia for many years now. There are thousands of lights on his trees in the front yard of his house and three Christmas trees groaning with lights and ornaments. I hope nobody gets drunk and falls into one of these babies, including yours truly.

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