Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas decorations

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having a lovely day. I'm taking pictures and blogging while waiting for the English muffins to rise, which suits my definition of lovely quite nicely.

My goal of this blog is to help improve my experience of the seasons year over year. That worked for Christmas decorations, I think. I blogged about them last year on Christmas Day, too. Maybe that will be a tradition!

We skipped all the outdoor decorations this year. All I miss is the experience of seeing Christmas lights as we drive up to the house in the evening. Decorating the garage with lights would solve that problem.

The doors are better with red bows as I thought they would be.

We put the creche under the tree this year, the tradition in R's family. Joining it are the Christmas village that my mother had under her tree the last few Christmases and a train set that Rick gave his father.

We decorated the railings this year with green garland and red bows. We're thinking that next year they need lights.

An unexpected decoration this year was the water lily. R wanted to see if he could overwinter a tropical water lily in our bay window. Not only is it surviving, it bloomed at Christmas for us!

The English muffins are ready! This recipe makes a tasty muffin, but it takes at least twice as long to cook as the recipe states.

Christmas Eve supper

This was a last-minute menu, so I have no idea whether it will become a tradition. But it was very successful.

The main course was Pollo Diablo from the Weber Big Book of Grilling. This recipe has the marinade right -- a blend of fruit juices and spices, particularly red pepper flakes. I used about half the red pepper flakes that it called for and it was plenty spicy for us. But we used the method recommended in the book -- we butterflied a whole chicken and marinated it. Then we put one skewer through the legs and another through the wings and breasts to keep it open. R grilled it for about an hour and it was delicious with just the right amount of heat.

While the chicken was grilling, I made risotto following the recipe in the Joy of Cooking, but with less butter.

And we served that with a green salad tossed with dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds, and slivered carrots. The salad was a dry run for the one I'm bringing out to the family gathering today. It worked! I made up the dressing recipe:

Orange-Rosemary Salad Dressing
1/4 c olive oil
2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
1/4 c cider vinegar
5 drops of habanero cider vinegar (I used Blue Heron Orchard's)
1/4 c orange juice
salt and pepper
2 T coarse mustard (I used Sandhill Farm's)
1 T agave nectar

Heat the oil and the rosemary over medium heat until it's bubbly all over. Turn off the heat and stir in the garlic. Allow that concoction to steep while everything else is prepped.

Put the other ingredients into a food processor or blender and process a few seconds until mixed. Add the oil and herbs a little at a time while continuing to process. Process until smooth.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Vilsak as Secretary of Agriculture

The Governor of Iowa as Secretary of Agrigulture was not exactly the change we need in the opinion of people in the sustainable food movement. But, they seem to be largely looking at the bright side. Who knew that they could get over 50,000 signatures on a last minute petition? The people behind the petition, Food Democracy Now, have already moved on to suggesting choices for the head of USDA and many of the other bloggers and activists are starting to think about what else that 50,000 people could be doing to influence food policy in the United States and around the world. The Eat Local Challenge blog has a short list of responsive pieces.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More candidates for Secretary of Agriculture

Michael Pollan didn't want the job (he's happy in his current position). There is a really fine interview of him on line at the Bill Moyers Journal website. Michael Pollan and many other people whose names you might recognize (Alice Waters, Rick Bayless, Wendell Berry, Frances Moore Lappe, Marion Nestle) signed a petition proposing a slate of possible candidates for Secretary of Agriculture. You can sign it, too! Via Adventures in Eating Locally.