I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
I recall Christmas' when my mother was
up early to get the turkey in the oven in time for the meal to be
served in the afternoon, and her Christmas mornings were spent
preparing everything in the kitchen while we all tried out our new
toys and tried on new clothes.
What's Christmas without Turkey?
Not so here in Ottawa this Christmas.
We trained our children right, and they have both developed excellent
culinary skills, and enjoy cooking. As a result the meal was a
co-operative effort with everyone chipping in something. We elected
to do Christmas dinner on Christmas eve because Alisha is going to
Deep River with Mark tomorrow afternoon, so you get to read about our
Christmas Dinner before your's.
I started my contribution the evening
before. I was trying a new recipe for the turkey. Alisha swears that
brining is the way to go, but my Christmas gift subscription from her
last year to Cook's Illustrated” claims that salting, not brining
is the best way to ensure a moist turkey with crisp and browned skin.
I spent the evening pushing salt under the skin all over the 15 pound
free-range “organic” turkey Ryan had purchased to allow it to
salt overnight. This afternoon, I pressed herbs and spices under the
skin, and Ryan and I prepared a dressing of local sausage bread and
Ben prepared an appetizer of bacon
wrapped chestnuts and jalapeno peppers in a delicious barbecue sauce,
to keep our appetites at bay since we were not eating until at least
7:30 PM. They were hot, sticky and spicy-good! Alisha introduced us
to the “Pim's Cup”; cucumber, citrus fruit & strawberries in
a mixture of Pims, Ginger Beer and Lemonade over ice.
Although not a traditional “Christmas”
vegetable, Alisha decided to add beets to the meal. She boiled them,
peeled and chopped them into cubes and served them with a very
interesting garlic walnut butter and goat cheese. Unusual but very
delicious. She also made a “nightshade” free sweet potato and
orange marmalade casserole.
Ryan, along with helping with the
dressing, took one of our traditional Christmas vegetables, and
updated it by shredding the brussel sprouts and frying them with
bacon and balsamic vinegar. They were delicious but hardly
recognizable as our old favourite vegetable. Ryan also made green
beans served with a shallot and filberts sauce. A bit “oniony”
for me, but enjoyed by everyone else.
Regis cooked up her traditional
cranberry sauce, and she sort of oversaw everything else and made
sure that everything had a place to be cooked and came out of the
oven and off the stove at the same time.
Now some things just shouldn't be
“messed” with, so I brought my traditional steamed Christmas
pudding from home ready to be heated up, but I changed the sauce,
using rum instead of brandy as flavouring and added chopped filberts
for a bit of a different touch.
The dishes are cleaned up, mostly by
Mark who arrived too late to do much cooking. Regis has made some
lunch-to-go turkey left-over casseroles for the children when they go
back to work next year, and the turkey carcass is boiling away on the
stove for a turkey soup later in the week. Everyone contributed to a
delicious, successful Christmas meal.
I’m sure there are WAY colder or snowier places, but for someone used to Halifax’s milder, mostly snow-free winters, Christmas in Ottawa is way more wintery than I am used to.
White Christmas? Not really a question here in Ottawa. Winter made it very clear that snow and Christmas definitely go together - it started to snow on the drive up from the East Coast as we got to Montreal, and some sort of cold wintery precipitation, be it snow, freezing rain, or cold nasty winter rain has been falling ever since. It snowed over 30 cm one day, and school wasn’t even cancelled - what’s with that? fifteen centimeters would have paralyzed the school busses back home.
But to be fair I do recall an hour or so of sun one day . . .
Are they kidding?
While it is certainly Christmasy it takes a bit of getting used to. The sidewalks are perpetually icy, and many street corners have huge slushy puddles to negotiate. Suddenly those Sorel -25 rated boots are actually useful. I guess the Ottawa natives get used to it, but it isn’t even Christmas yet and I’ve had enough snow.
Now although I am complaining about the snow, spending Christmas up here in Ottawa with the children and their friends is really wonderful.