Traditions: Easter Dinner

Last year was our first effort at a family Easter. This year there was no snowshoeing, but we did dye and hide eggs.

Easter Eggs

Baguette hunted them, with help from Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.

Hunting7

Then there were deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs

And Mr. Sandwich’s parents came over for a dinner of ham (my great-grandmother’s recipe),

Ham

roasted asparagus (shown here pre-roasting),

Asparagus

and beer bread (my grandmother’s recipe),

Beer Bread

as well as mashed potatoes and root vegetables and Lawry’s creamed corn.

I may have gone a little nuts.

Dessert–because I lacked time and energy to make a pound cake–was vanilla ice cream and lemon cookies, both from the store.

Verdict? The ham, asparagus, and creamed corn are definitely keepers–although we knew that going in, because I’ve made those before (a quick shout-out to Lawry’s for sharing their recipes, BTW). The beer bread was fine, but not at the top of the food priority list for us, and the mashed potatoes and root vegetables were tasty–but when Mr. Sandwich said, “I just really like your regular mashed potatoes,” well, let’s just say that it’s tough to embrace the experiment.


This post was not sponsored by Lawry’s. I just really like Lawry’s.

Traditions: Easter Parade

What are your Easter traditions? Growing up, we would hunt eggs and go to Mass. I don’t remember a specific Easter dinner, but I do somehow associate ham with the holiday. So at some point we must have had ham. Presumably at more than one point.

As it turns out, I did not get up earlier than everyone to hide eggs. Baguette woke up squirmy and snuggly, and began her usual morning ritual of bringing things into our bedroom to hand to us. Normally, these tend to be highly portable items, like Fisher Price giraffes and horses, or books. Yesterday morning, though, I could hear her laughing as she came back toward us. And when she rounded the corner, I could see why: she was bringing us a broom. And she was right, when you’re expecting a Fisher Price giraffe, a broom is kind of hilarious.

So we all got up, and I threw on some clothes so that I could run out front and hide eggs without scandalizing the neighbors. Then we got her into a springtime dress and shoes, because after all, it’s really about the photo ops.

Baguette had very little interest in the “hidden” eggs–we had to point them out to her and urge her to collect them. And then she had even less interest in the basket; she point-blank refused to put the eggs into it. What she did want to do was throw them over the fence onto the sidewalk. (Note to self: teach Baguette that eggs are not basketballs.)

Easter egg hunt

Then she went around to our next-door neighbor’s house and climbed over the fence back into our yard. Dress, shoes, and all.

The rest of the day was spent on a snowshoeing outing. Mr. Sandwich had built Baguette a sled, and we figured that–given the dry, warm winter we’ve had–this was probably our last weekend to find snow and test it out. And we did find a little, resulting in successful sled testing.

home made sled

And then we got home and passed out on the sofa bed. Which we still need to replace.

So which parts of this are traditional for us? No idea. The eggs, most likely, but there’s no predicting the future of April snowshoeing.

Ham and Beans

I’m trying to cook more, and to use what I have. One of the things I have is several freezer bags of ham, left over from a bout of Christmas cooking. Another thing I have is a variety of dried beans, from a bout of frugal shopping without a plan. So yesterday I went through the pantry, pulled out the Crock Pot, and made a batch of ham and beans.

Friday night, I took the ham out of the freezer and sorted, rinsed, and soaked the beans overnight (after a few hours of soaking, I drained the water and continued soaking them in fresh water).

Saturday morning I moved the beans out of their bowl into the Crock Pot, added the cooked ham, poured approximately a cup of pureed tomatoes in, and added dried minced onion (Mr. Sandwich hates the texture of onion, so I try to minimize its effect as much as possible). I set the heat on high for about an hour and then turned it down to low.

After several hours, the sauce was okay, but pretty bland. Considering how few ingredients were in there, I’m surprised that this surprised me. So I added dried sage, paprika, some chipotle powder, some chili con carne, ground black pepper, and a little bit of sea salt–plus a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. Then I continued to let it cook for a few more hours.

The end result was better than I’d dared hope–rich, flavorful, a little smoky, and a tiny bit sweet. Although the original recipe claimed to be a soup, this is definitely not that. I ate it over rice, and Mr. Sandwich ate it plain. Both of us plan to eat more.

Not bad for an experiment!

Holiday Traditions: Roundup

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas–unless you don’t celebrate it, in which case I hope you had a very nice day. We can all use nice days.

When I was a child (and a teen, and an adult), I was famous in my family for what we called my “Christmas nap.” I’ve never been one for naps, unless I’m sick. Or it’s Christmas. Apparently this dates back to my infancy, when I got tired partway through opening presents and decided to take a nap. This happened. I’ve seen a photo.

So yesterday we woke up for what was our first Christmas morning in our own home (normally we alternate between Mr. Sandwich’s parents, who are local, and traveling to my side of the family, who are not. We had prepared by pulling out the sofa bed; we already have a developing tradition called “Saturday Night Sofa Bed,” and we decided to extend it to “Christmas Morning Sofa Bed.” I got up a little ahead of everyone to cut up ham (I had made a ham on Friday) for scrambled eggs, and we ate eggs with ham, and apple bread. Then we piled onto the sofa bed to open presents.

Next up: Elmo. A lot of Elmo. Baguette has a cold and clearly feels terrible, so we’re letting her watch more TV than usual. Maybe this isn’t perfect, but, hey, what do you want to do when you have a cold? Curl up in bed and watch TV. She’s no different.

After a while, though, it became clear that she was exhausted and sad (she would cry at the end of each “Elmo’s World”), so we bundled her into the car and drove about 10 feet before she fell asleep. We kept driving for a couple of miles in the hope that it would help her stay asleep. And it worked! When we got home, I piled up sofa cushions and laid her down between me and them. The dog snuggled up on my other side, and we all had a nice, relaxing afternoon as she slept for several hours and I read The Hunger Games.

It’s worth noting here that what this means is that Baguette stole my Christmas nap. But when was the last time I got to read for two hours straight? I don’t know, either.

Once she was up and fed and bathed and changed (into another fleecy sleeper–sick babies don’t have to dress for dinner, IMO), we headed over to Mr. Sandwich’s parents’ house for dinner. After a meal of tri-tip, mashed potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts, we opened more gifts and watched a renewed (if still fussy) Baguette run around the house.

I’d like to keep the family, food, and Sofa Bed. Baguette and I both vote to skip the colds next time. But to wind everything up, here are a couple of holiday exchanges from the House of Sandwich:

When Mr. Sandwich got home from his bike ride, I told him how crazy the process of undoing the Fisher Price Noah’s Ark packaging was making me. A moment later, he’s tossing plastic zebras over to me.

Me: How did you do that?

Mr. Sandwich: I think three-dimensionally.

Me: Thanks, Captain Kirk. Now, HOW DID YOU DO THAT?

#ThisIsWhatHappensWhenTrekkersMarry

On whether or not it’s worth making another trip out for gifts on Christmas Eve:

Me: You know I’m very materialistic and not all about the love.

Mr. Sandwich: I give you my love.

Me: I want the thing, dammit.

Last-Minute Frenzy

Not shopping, thank goodness–but we have two days off while Baguette’s day care is still open, and that means that we’re trying to fit both relaxation and accomplishment into that time period. Mr. Sandwich is building a wheel so that he can go for a bike ride, and I’m getting ready to drop off clothes at the dry cleaner and make one last trip to Trader Joe’s before cooking a ham according to my family’s recipe. (The ham is not for Christmas dinner–I just want ham). There’s chicken thawing in the refrigerator so that I can make broth and soup and whatever over the weekend. There are a few more packages to wrap, holiday cards to mail, and a DVR full of toddler-inappropriate TV to watch (calm down, it’s just Boardwalk Empire, Castle, and Tosh.0). Oh, and of course continuing to clean the home office.

Sure. It’ll all get done.

The master plan to do list

Photo by the green gal, via Flickr.

Waffling

Yesterday was Baguette’s first morning in day care. It was a success, and I wasn’t really worried, but there was a bit of separation anxiety. Mine, naturally.

Fortunately, I had scheduled brunch with a friend. We decided to try out CiCi’s Cafe, reputed to have excellent breakfasts.

The menu is enormous; it reminded me of the menu at the Country Pancake House, one of my favorite breakfast spots when I lived in New Jersey. My friend ordered Strawberry Valentino Crepes, and I ordered The Jumbo Jet–waffle, eggs, and ham.

In the end, the crepes and the eggs were good. The ham was a bit dry, and the waffle was, well, disappointingly bland. I would go back, but I’d try some of the ingredient-packed pancakes–maybe the Say Trick or Treat, or the Aloha Pineapple. I think I’d have trouble choosing between those two.

Bill’s Cafe

If you’re in San Jose and wondering where to have breakfast, you might want to drop in at Bill’s Cafe. Located in the charming (and expensive) neighborhood of Willow Glen, Bill’s offers up the basics and beyond.

Our table wound up with oatmeal, pancakes and eggs, and corned beef hash. I ordered the Eggs Cordon Bleu, a twist on Eggs Benedict with ham, Swiss cheese, scrambled eggs, and Hollandaise sauce, all served on a croissant. That was agreed to be the standout (lucky me!). And the coffee and fresh-squeezed juice were good, too.

But there were any number of omelettes, skillet breakfasts, and scrambles that I’d be delighted to try. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in San Jose.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. Mr. Sandwich’s parents are coming over, and here’s what we’re feeding them:

ham
creamed corn (recipe from Lawry’s)
roasted asparagus
cheesy potatoes
Triple Sec pound cake.

So what is everyone thankful for? I’m thankful for friends and family, and for our new home. Most of all I’m thankful, as I am every day, for Mr. Sandwich.

Philippe the Original

Lovers of French dip sandwiches will definitely want to pay a visit to Philippe. The restaurant stretches through several rooms with tables and barstools of varying heights. A snack and sundries counter stands by the front door–but the reason for a visit is to be found at the long deli-style counter in back. Multiple lines thread between the tables, and at the head of each is a waitress ready to take and fill your order. Dip sandwiches can be made of beef, pork, lamb, ham, or turkey. We started with beef and went back for pork. While the beef was good, the pork dip was excellent.

Philippe The Original: French Dipped Sandwiches

Photo by K W Reinsch, via Flickr.