I just love when I find a hidden gem and that’s exactly what happened for our Thanksgiving dinner. A few weeks ago we decided that we wanted to go out to eat since it’s just the two of us this year. All of the local places serving T-Day dinner were charging between $80 – $90 per person plus tip! Spending over $200 to eat in a trendy or upscale restaurant on Thanksgiving in greater Portland is just no! (Portland was named 2018 Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetite.) We’re not into trendy places. We wanted something out of the way in the country that was simple, homey, historic, casual and delicious without fine dining pricing. Then I opened up google maps and did a search for places in “the country”. That’s how I found The Buxton Common, “a community gathering space for families, friends, neighbors and guests serving house smoked, rustic country fare in a revitalized 18th century home.” They were offering a Thanksgiving dinner for $32 per person! Sold!
This was the first Christmas for Wayne and I as a married couple, so for the weeks leading up to it we talked about what we will do to create lasting traditions. Tradition is such a comforting word in an uncertain world, isn’t it? Yet things didn’t happen as we had hoped. The cold I had from last week continues to steal my voice and morphed into a nasty cough, the kind that leaves my ribs aching, so I’ve been consuming lots of cough syrup, lozenges and medicinal teas. Because of that we obviously needed to forgo a Christmas Eve service, something we really had been looking forward to doing, especially after missing church on Sunday. Yet things turned out in ways we couldn’t have anticipated.
That bad cold I mentioned yesterday has now also given me laryngitis. I was so sad that we had to miss church this morning! This is my favorite time of year and because I’m sick I can’t be a part of some important-to-me social opportunities. However, I’m attempting to reframe this in a positive light: In the past when I’ve visited Sister Aline at the Marine Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford Pool there have been occasions when there was a silent retreat in progress. Participants wore a little sign the size of a name tag explaining that they are not speaking. So isn’t this great news, that I now have a Christmas silent retreat happening in my home!! Yeah, ok. I’m communicating with Wayne via a writing pad and fake sign language I’m making up as I go along.
I’ve been knocked out with a bad cold and sadly had to cancel some of my social festivities. Even though I should be getting plenty of bed rest I take great joy in baking, especially Christmastime and am not willing to forgo it. I’ve never made a gluten-free shortbread until yesterday and boy are these good and so simple to make! I wasn’t sure how they would turn out since I used only gluten-free flours and true to a shortbread formula, there are no eggs which gluten-free baking often requires. You don’t even have to dip them in chocolate if you want a super quick to prepare recipe that you can easily make in time for Christmas.
Wayne and I will be having a cozy Christmas dinner for two. Every year I’ve made a standing bone-in rib roast but this will be the first year that I’ll be serving Yorkshire pudding made with meat drippings, yum! Here’s my recipe for Yorkshire pudding prepared with oat flour, tapioca and peanut oil (so meat drippings are optional) that tastes divine.
Can you tell I love Christmas decorating? Did you know that the REAL reason vintage aluminum trees need to be used with a color wheel is because the trees are highly flammable? String lights are out! However, color wheels produce a beautiful light show once the sun sets.
When I was little the idea of Santa Claus gave me permission to dream beyond my means and reality. It didn’t matter what was happening in my life, the realities of budgets or whether he would deliver. When I made my list and handed it to my Nana, “Santa’s Helper” as she referred to herself, there was an exciting passage of a few weeks when it seemed that anything was possible.
We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.
Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
And conquers if we let it.
Within my collection of vintage Maine and New England community cook books dating back to the early 1900s are dozens and dozens of recipes for “Indian Pudding.” It’s a humble, mildly sweet and spicy baked cornmeal dessert served warm and paired with whipped or iced cream. Each recipe is as unique as the contributor. Even within one cook book there are sometimes multiple variations offered: Lottie adds tapioca, no eggs while Cora uses eggs and no tapioca. Mary bakes hers in a “slow oven” (lower temp) for four hours while Alice only bakes her for 1 1/2. After carefully reviewing my vintage sources I am offering you my own kitchen and taste tested (plus Wayne approved!) adaptation that’s made in a cast iron dutch oven. (This is an updated recipe from last year with new photos taken this morning!)