Home For Christmas

 

 

I’m dreamin’ tonight of a place I love
Even more then I usually do
And although I know it’s a long road back
I promise you

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

 

The image is sparse and simple, evocative. The soothing sounds of the sleigh gliding through a blinding blanket of white pulled along with care and confidence by that most magnificent of creatures, what one would suppose is called a “warmblood”, a cross between hot bloods and cold bloods in the language and lore of horses. The majesty of the animal’s bearing is a thing to behold. And how unnaturally quiet and otherworldly that ride must have been.

Maybe the lyrics are a bit trite or cloyingly sentimental, but even the hardened of hearts find comfort in nostalgia every now and again. So if gruff and grump (soul mates of bah humbug) and a huge dose of reality are denying you a well deserved trip to a far off exotic destination this Christmas, or if responsibility and/or other matters of a pressing nature (pressing being the operative word here) are keeping you away and apart from those you love this year, settle for the simple enchantment of your own little sanctuary, where retreat, reflection and the simplest of joys can be found — blissfully free of disturbance and 2010 debt.

The kitchen is always the soul of the home so the wise will know that the hearth not only provides warmth, but sustenance. Decadent sustenance.

GUINNESS GINGERBREAD

Ingredients:

2/3 cup Guinness stout
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs best-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour a 9 x 9 x 2 square cake pan.

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the beer to a simmer and remove from heat.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, ginger, white pepper, and cinnamon into a medium bowl.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and molasses until smooth. Whisk in the oil to combine. Whisk in the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the beer. (Dry, beer, dry, beer, dry.) Mix until just combined. Do not over mix.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool. The gingerbread is best at room temperature with freshly whipped cream.

Now what to pair this lovely bread of ginger with? How about a bit of eggnog. There’s a well known and enthusiastically practiced tradition for hard-core eggnog fanatics, who make it a year in advance, swearing it is the finest elixir to ever cross one’s lips. I’ve no doubt of the authenticity of this claim, yet for one encumbered with a general resistance to plans of any sort, there is a second option. Three weeks! Better to be sure. And finally, gratefully, there’s the version of eggnog for those of us who tend to live on one speed — the fly.

CHRISTMAS EGGNOG

Ingredients:

* 12 large eggs
* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
* 1 liter (about 4 cups) bourbon, such as Jim Beam
* 1/2 cup Myers’s dark rum
* 1/2 to 1 cup good Cognac or other brandy
* Pinch kosher salt
* 1 whole nutmeg

To serve (optional):

* 10 egg whites
* 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

For the specifics.

With warm gingerbread in hand, and eggnog in cup, savor the spirit of Christmas in one of the season’s finest cinematic tributes. Christmas in Connecticut.

Think of it like this: With the entire month of December, oftentimes, feeling like one long screwball comedy: lots of running back and forth, too much to do and not enough time to do it, inhaling excessive amounts of holiday cheer with people you’d best do to avoid, let alone get stiff with, it’s good to know that before the screwball era was over, Hollywood remembered to give us a Christmas comedy that’s still worth watching today.

A wonderful review by flickfilosopher here.

And lastly, the quintessential book of sugared delights vital for a season customized to order around the seven deadly (or is it heavenly) sins. (Sloth, greed, and gluttony immediately come to mind).

Merry Christmas!

Photograph (top): Hans Klaus Techt/EPA

 

 

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~ by eaesthete on 12/23/09.

10 Responses to “Home For Christmas”

  1. it is a great movie. Love gingerbread-it is the one thing I think that is worthwhile to actually make from scratch and eggnog love it too, cheers aesthete! gaye

  2. Well, these are like Christmas presents! Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas and leads – all year long too! I’m always looking for holiday movies, this one looks fun. Magic moments to you!

  3. merry christmas!!!

  4. Dear EA…thank you again for another delicious post..I hope you have a wonderful start to 2010….

  5. Just stop by to wish you a Merry Christmas and thank you for a year of excellent posts!

  6. I’m just a silent reader of your beautiful blog…just wanna say thank you for these gorgeous posts, I enjoy reading them so much.

    Hope you have a great Christmas time, love and greetings from Norway…

  7. Chère Suzanne:

    I was happy to see you’re an aficionado of “Christmas in Connecticut”. It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies, and one of three I make sure to watch every year. I also love “A Christmas Story” (I grew up about 10 miles from where Jean Shepherd was raised, though I’m nowhere near as old, so it all looks so very familiar) and “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” (I grew up several thousand miles from where Dylan Thomas did, but I still love it). Thank the lord for DVDs!

    Dickens was on the right track all those years ago: if you do Christmas right, Past Present, and Future all merge into one magical Christmas that you may enjoy and savor every year.

    I’m sad that Christmas is over for another year, but (on the bright side) my bar has profited from it greatly.

    -The Utah Mixologist

  8. ..was drawn to this wonderful photo of the horse drawn sleigh, which by the way might be my only form of transportation later today. They’re called Nor’easters in this part of the country and we’re experiencing one right now as I sit here looking out the window. Snow ..with no end in sight.

  9. Andrew, sounds as if the snow you’re seeing out your window is part of the same storm that millions of us are encountering today. Yes..Nor’easter is the term ..when parts of certain weather systems collide forming in essence “the perfect storm.” I’m near Philadelphia where snow is still falling ..not as much as last night, but still coming down. Anywhere from 14 to 18 inches out “my” window..and more in the forecast. Embrace it and enjoy it Andrew ..as best you can. Snows like this one don’t occur all that often.

  10. Andrew and Linda, I am in New Jersey – and we got clobbered with about 27 inches of snow from this classic Nor’easter. It’s so beautiful to look at. I took many photos of it. Yes, the ‘perfect storm’, for sure. And guess what, we’re supposed to get another one on Tuesday night into Wednesday. That’s just fine with me. I LOVE snow.

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