Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let Us Break Bread Together

Food brings people together.

In the past month, we have had wonderful opportunities to share with family and friends.

This entry seems to be all about food. In fact, you might even gain weight just reading!

It's genetic, I think.

Having spent so much time with my Mom's and Grandma's recipes

over the past month, I am beginning to understand I really had no other choice but to become a person who loves to feed people.

Coincidentally, even the deer enjoy food and drink at our house. The day before Thanksgiving while we enjoyed our morning coffee, we looked out the kitchen window and found our usual herd of deer a bit closer than usual.

See them checking out our bird feeders? The one in front is heading up to the patio to see if he can find the hibiscus plant he munched on all summer. When they were done with their little snack, they decided to drink all of the water out of our heated bird bath. Why shouldn't they have a warm drink just like us?

I guess we just have the welcome mat out for all God's creatures! Cheers!

We hosted the Geier side of the family for Thanksgiving.

If you follow Suzanne's blog, you already have seen her pictures from the day.
I do think Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It is, to me, quite stress free. The day brings us together and we just don't have that many chances these days.

Linda, Jennifer and Clara stayed with us for the weekend. Here, Clara is bonding with Nick and me as we watch her enjoy her lunch. Having little ones in the house is such a treat!

Speaking of little ones, Paul's sister, Jayne, announced during dinner she and Tom were to become grandparents in June. You can probably tell Elizabeth (who is our godchild) has that "healthy glow" in their family picture. We are so excited for her and Mike.

Joey, our nephew who is in chef's school, dug right in at the stove that day and prepared a reduction sauce for our Thanksgiving meal. It was great. I love Joey. We cooked gluten free so Suzanne could share the meal with her family.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, our house was filled once again with people gathering for food and drinks at the Geier's. Nick's group of friends has made a Thanksgiving weekend meal at our house an annual event. Paul and I love cooking for them. However, I told them that getting them all to sit down and eat at the same time was like herding cats!

They are great guys and we hope to be able to have them gather here for years to come.

Paul and I, understanding we were their hosts, but not wanting to interfere,

disappeared into our room after dinner to watch television and read while they took over the house and yard. After all, we never have intended to be Sometime during the night they left their bonfire and finished off most of the food that wasn't eaten during the meal.

They make themselves at home here in our house and we love these kids.

Too bad it started to snow during the night, because some of them had plans to sleep out under the stars. They found spots to sleep, so no worries, despite the weather.

Probably the best part of that event was that the next morning, Nick took care of every bit of the clean up, right down to scrubbing the kitchen floor while we had our morning coffee!!!!

The week after Thanksgiving, our niece, Melissa, graduated with a Master of Science degree in Nurse Anesthesia from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.

What an accomplishment!!! Congratulations, Missy! Her husband, Zuel, hosted a party in her honor at McGovern's in St. Paul. What a great time we had that evening. Both of Missy's sisters, Jennifer and Jessica, were able to be there to celebrate with their big sister.

Jennifer came all the way from Virginia and Jessie drove from Fargo with her dear little baby, Meredith, the newest member of our clan. I think Meredith is the most contented little baby I have ever met!!!
She really was the "belle of the ball" right along with Missy! Jessie is such a wonderful mother!

We had so much fun visiting with our niece, Lisa, pictured here in her Mom's (my sister, Marlys) kitchen with her nephew and our grand nephew, Kolin.

I keep pretty well posted with news from Lisa because she does such a great job with her blog. I wish more members of our family would do the same!!! It connects us!

Back to Missy's party. We all had so much fun visiting that evening. Dave, Rosie, Jenny, Jessie, Lisa, Paul and I visited and laughed until 1 a.m.!

I love my brother so much and we are so glad Zuel threw that party!

Most of you know I have been compiling Mom's recipe file. I promised myself I would do this for my siblings after her death in 1992. I am finally working to accomplish that goal. I currently have over 300 recipes posted and have at least another 100 remaining to be added. While I worked my way through her cookie, candy, cake and appetizer recipes, I decided I would try to make some for the holidays. So, I have spent quite a few days in the kitchen working with Mom's recipes.

I wanted to make some gluten free treats for Suzanne,

so for some reason, I got a little hung up in the peanut butter and chocolate section of Mom's files. So, we will be sharing Candy Buckeyes

and homemade turtles and peanut butter cups this Christmas.

Paul did some research online and found two fruitcake recipes he wanted us to bake. As a child, his aunt from Georgia would send homemade fruitcakes to his family during the holidays. He loved them! I, not having experienced homemade fruitcakes as a child, didn't think anyone ever ate them! He convinced me otherwise.
So, we took two mornings to put together the recipes and presently they are "soaking" away ready to be tested on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Pictures will follow with our Christmas entry. Paul also found a recipe in the paper for sugar plums,

so we made those as well.

Who knew sugar plums were mostly dried fruit?

Suzanne and Jon were invited to a housewarming/cookie exchange party last Friday. There was no time for either of them to bake anything for that event, so I made a batch of Mom's peanut butter Crinkles for them.

Paul is getting pretty good with food photos, don't you think? Obviously, I doubled the recipe. I think we will be eating those cookies for awhile!

Suzanne and I still hope to get a chance to make gluten free sugar cookies

before the holidays. We have all the adaptations ready, so I hope we can find the time to make them.

You know what? This is the first time I have ever really done Christmas baking. Some years, the four of us would bake a batch of spritz or sugar cookies after Christmas, if we had a chance. This year, in my first year of retirement, I keep thinking about Mom as I work in my kitchen.

I haven't come close to her level of accomplishment and I don't think I ever will. Just entering her recipes for Mary Ann (or Aunt Sally) cookies, Rosettes and Pizelles made me appreciate all the time she spent working to make sure that when our family got together it would be a special event. And, I know that Dad must have been right in there working to help her, too. Then I start thinking about her wedding cakes. Oh, my, what talent she had. So, this Christmas Eve, when we go to the Simser's, we will be bringing plates of recipes from Mom's cookie and candy file. And, a couple of her cheese ball recipes and her meatball recipe will be going with us, too.  And, we will share Christmas Day with the Fox's and the Dotzenrod's. With Mom watching over my shoulder,

I will happily spend a day or two in the kitchen preparing for that day. It has been years since the McDougall clan has gathered here for the holidays. I can hardly wait. I promise to post right after Christmas Day.

Because folks, before New Year's Day, Paul and I will be on the road again. We will leave our little house here in the frozen north

and though we haven't figured quite how yet, we will pull our camper 

up our snowy road and head to sunny Florida!

Keep the pictures of our "North Trail" in your mind because the next time you see a picture of this camper
it will (hopefully) be in a much warmer terrain!!!


Lisa D said...

Wonderful post! Can't wait to try all the yummy sweets! Paul is quite the food photographer. Perhaps he can do some freelance work for food & wine magazine!

I am so impressed that Nick scrubbed the floors the morning after the gathering w/ his friends! You have a well-trained son! ;)

Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday!!!

Marlys said...

Your blog brought tears to my eyes! We are so excited to spend Christmas with you - it's been so long since we have been together at Christmas - since before Mom died, I'm sure! Your treats look wonderful - you really have been cooking up a storm! The sugar plums look delicious! See you on Thursday, but will give you a call before we leave the Tundra!

qwerkyqook said...

that peanut butter cookie picture is awesome! thanks for all the treats mom, i'm ready for some more! my snowman bucket is already empty!!!!