25 December 2009

It has been a happy Christmas indeed. After decorating the tree with the little ones on Christmas Eve, we bundled them up in their Christmas best, then let them fall asleep beneath the lit tree. A little before midnight, we awoke, gathered the still-sleepy ones into the car, and all of us went out into the howling, windswept night toward the cathedral. If we were tired before, the trumpet blasts from the overhead choir singing O Come All Ye Faithful during the processional shocked us into life. The bishop offered a homily, short and sweet, after which he would drive north to a prison and preside over Christmas Mass the next day.

Arriving back home a little after one, my daughter was charmed to finally see the ChristChild in His crib, and off they went back to bed, while Mr. and Mrs. quietly laid out the Christmas presents and set up the electric train tracks around the base of the tree. After far too little sleep, dawn came, the children awoke, and the groggy adults shuffled into the living room to pass out gifts and watch them being torn open. Lots of clothes and googaws for the little ones, and the brass wet shaving kit (from the Mrs.) was a hit with the husband, and the freshwater pearls (a set of white and a set of pink), naturally, delighted the wife.

The rest of the morning was spent hovering over simmering stocks, orange rinds, ports, and Grand Marnier as I attempted, for the first time, Canard à l'orange, à Julia Child. We were fortunate to find fresh (unfrozen) duckling. (It came with an orange sauce packet, which we threw away.) Ducks don't require basting, as they are fatty and juicy all on their own (though it helps to prick the skin all over to get to that subcutaneous layer of fat), but they do need to be turned over every 15 minutes to be evenly cooked--and that is not as easy as it sounds, particularly when the beast is hissing and spitting in the scorching oven, and the only tools you've got are a spatula and a slotted spoon. In any case, I managed. The final result? Let's just say the husband is still hovering over the crisp, evenly browned duck on the table hours later. As for me,having had my fill of duck and wine, I'll now be tucking into a slice of pumpkin roll with a pot of steaming hot Assam tea and cream...

Cheers, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all good things!

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