Oh goodness. Last week was a whirlwind to say the least. I’m am very happy to have survived it and that my husband and baby survived too. Not only was it a crazy holiday with family but my baby sister got married in between Christmas and New Years. So…yeah. When I was growing up my parents house was a wee bit tight for just us. (Two parents and 5 children). So imagine how tight it is now with 5 married kids all coming home for the holidays with grandchildren. My parents have a three bedroom house which probably comfortably fits 5 people. There are 16 people total including the little ones. My Mom generously paid for a hotel for us and my brother and his wife. We upgraded and paid to have a hotel suite so that the baby could actually sleep. So that took the number from 16 down to 11 house guests. Anyway, it was crazy chaotic fun.
Every Christmas Eve we choose a different part of the world and cook the food from that region. This year we picked the California coast in honor of both my sister and brother’s wedding this year in California. I was put in charge of the menu and came up with a perfect meal that highlighted the best of what California has to offer. We were to have Tri Tip (indigenous of Santa Maria), Citrus Chicken (citrus is a big part of California) and Shrimp Skewers (a nod to the coast). For sides I chose Avocado and Blood Orange Salad (Avocados a no brainer to California), Ranch Beans, Rice, Salsa and Tortillas (which traditionally is served with tri tip and is a nod to the latin influence of California). And finally I suggested Grilled Sourdough Bread with Melted Monterrey Jack Cheese and Bacon (a nod to San Francisco and Monterrey). Long story short there was some resistance by a person who will remain nameless and the Tri Tip and Bacon was vetoed due to their lifestyle choice of not eating beef or pork. Then an arduous email exchange occurred between family members as follows:
Nameless Person # 1: I’m not very interested in the tri tip because I don’t eat beef. I also don’t eat pork, but I’m making an exception for Christmas Day as so many people are interested in having the traditional Grandpa dinner. Can we also not have bacon with the bread?
Nameless Person # 2: Well the rice, beans salsa and tortillas really goes with the tri tip. So it doesn’t really make sense to do that without the tri tip. I know that you and “Steve” don’t eat tri tip but I think everyone else does and might be interested in it. However if we are going to ditch the tri tip maybe I can come up with another theme that includes a latin influence. I just wanted everything to tie together cohesively. Thoughts?
Nameless Person # 1: I took out the tri tip so the rice and beans are unnecessary. The corn and rice are also Latin and we could add chips and salsa for an appetizer. I put in another menu after the first taking out the beans and tortillas.
Nameless Person # 2: Its up to you! 🙂 xoxo
Nameless Person # 1: Sounds like you aren’t very happy about no tri tip.
Nameless Person # 3: Could we just buy grass fed beef, thus reducing concerns about inhumane treatment and celebrating meat consumption as a way to promote a sustainable earth? I’d be happy to skip the ham on Christmas Day too if we wanted to pick just one mammal.
Nameless Person # 1: Why is beef so important? What is wrong with chicken and shrimp? Maybe the best way to support a sustainable earth is to go vegetarian. Anna, do you have some good vegetarian recipes we could do? Vegetarian is a California cuisine.
Nameless Person # 3: I’m okay with the chicken and shrimp, but I want to be on the record as saying that there is demonstrable proof that eating grass fed beef is better for the environment. 🙂
Yes, this is my family whom I love. The debate ended here as no one was interested in pushing the issue further. Being a former vegetarian I’m always fine without eating meat but I do feel that its important to be respectful of people who do eat meat. Anyway, I changed the menu to be more on the seasonal side and came up with: Grilled Citrus Chicken, Shrimp Skewers, Roast Brussel Sprouts, Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Twice Baked Potatoes, Green Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Red Pepper and Pistachios and Sautéed Green Beans with Chicken Sausage. It was delicious. I’m curious to see how next years menu planning goes. I know now not to mention any form of beef or pork consumption so that should help. (Although we did eat ham the next day which seemed to be fine with this particular family member….don’t ask).
Christmas Day we ate a delicious breakfast prepared by my talented sister Sarah. She make Pumpkin Biscuits, Fruit Salad & Scrambled Eggs. Her husband Mike made a delightful hot chocolate to boot. We opened presents, watched the Laker’s game (they won!), took a family picture and ate our traditional ham dinner.
The next day was my sister’s bachelorette party which my sister Sarah and I hosted. We took Bethany to Saddle Ranch at Universal City Walk with her entourage of friends. We had dinner, made her ride the mechanical bull, ate a mountain of cotton candy and then made her embarrass herself on City Walk by doing whatever bidding we told her. One friend made her ask a young man to spank her. Another told her to do cartwheels down citywalk and sing “I’m getting married in the morning.” So that was quite entertaining. We then went back to my hotel and sat in the hot tub while playing “Bachelorette Trivia” where we all discovered how well we knew the bride. After our hot tub confessions we ate cherry filled cupcakes in the hotel room and she opened her presents of “unmentionables.” It was a tame but fun bachelorette party. The next day was the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. And then the big day arrived for the wedding! I’m not going to go into every detail of that day because it was long, intense but fun. Bethany and Shawn seemed so happy and we got lots of amazing pictures. The reception was beautiful and the food, dancing and merriment were fabulous. By the end of the day I was finally relaxed and having fun because there were not more “to-do’s” rolling around in my brain and I didn’t want the evening to end. I was still dancing while the wait staff was cleaning the tables….
Overall, it was an amazing holiday with family because of all the memories we created and its a year we’ll never forget. But I am secretly looking forward to next year when the only activity for the holidays is sitting around, eating and being generally lazy. Here’s to a more relaxed 2013! Happy New Year everyone!