Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas is a'coming

I got a late start this morning. MacGyver had today off and we didn't have to jump out of bed and attack the world. My morning coffee was about 9:30 in fact. But when I bundled up to go out to feed the horses, I was shocked to find that it was already 52 degrees outside and was instantly surprised and excited. We've been putting off getting our tree for several reasons. We've had a hard time lining up several things...time, lack of snow and freezing temperatures, Mac's days off, time (which seems to be short these days), and no agenda or kids' activities. Today seemed to be that day. I almost pushed Mac out of bed. He didn't seem to want to budge. So this is how much I packed into today from about 9:30-7:00. Got breakfast, cleaned house, did two loads of laundry, made 2 roasted chickens, spent 2 hours putting 5 rim joists about twenty feet into the air, wandered around the property and found 2 Christmas trees (will explain below), spent an hour locating and digging out our Christmas trunks from the storage shed, cut and stacked several trees, finished dinner, made dinner for the next night and spent an hour cleaning up that mess. I just sat down to listen to some Christmas music and eating some of my leftover gluten free pumpkin pie which happens to be delicious. The kiddos are playing with the Christmas train and setting up the track. MacGyver is trying to see which of our lights work so he can string the tree. Whew! What a day.

So, the 2 Christmas trees. Our goal was to cut one tree. Unfortunately, the first tree we cut was perfect except for one fatal flaw...the pine needles were just that...needles. Four of the fingers on my left hand were stabbed trying to hold it while Mac cut it. It wasn't until it was cut and loaded on the truck that I began to question the sanity of such a sharp tree when nobody would want to get within 2 feet of it and I wasn't sure it would ever get decorated. Therefore, we continued the hunt for the perfect tree. This time we set out for the touch test before deciding which one was "the one". True to history, we cut a 40' tree and had to cut it down to a size that would fit in our tiny cabin. We cut the rest of the trunk, and some other brush that was evidently bothering my hubby, and he decided to keep going and spent another hour cutting up some of the other wood in our pile. We're planning on cutting up the razor tree for firewood, as well. The second tree is truly beautiful.  I think it might just be might favorite one so far. Full, round and soft. Very soft. What more could a girl want?

Being so patient waiting to go cut our tree

Both trees and some extra greenery for the front porch

Cut down to size

Izzy all excited to put the tree up

Ike trying to play it cool

So, dinner. I'm trying to go completely gluten free. I'm pretty certain I've got gluten issues. Izzy, too. I picked up 2 whole chickens that were on sale and decided to roast them so I could cook them at the same time. Normally, I would throw them on the rotisserie in our dual function toaster oven. This is my favorite way to cook a whole chicken. But I knew I wouldn't be around to babysit it. I had places to go, things to do. Plus, I love my retro roaster I picked up for something like $13 at a local antique store, The Barn, in Castle Rock. Love that place! I just love the design on the bottom. Isn't it cool?

Anyway, I tried some new gluten free garlic risotto and made some parmesan green beans, cranberry apple jello and sweet tea. Have you ever made that jello? I stole it from my MIL and I crave it this time of the year. It's just lemon jello, cranberry sauce and diced apples. You can throw in pecans or walnuts if you feel crazy. This stuff rocks. I've seen it with strawberry jello, as well. Good, too.

Obviously, we had a bunch of chicken left over (my plan). I pulled the chicken off the bone and put some of it aside for another dinner and finished boiling the bones to make some more broth. And then I looked at all the leftovers I had, the report for snow tomorrow, and all that chicken I just made and that leftover ham from Thanksgiving. And I started thinking about Brunswick Stew. I start craving that, as well, in the fall and winter. Ever had it? I'm a Georgia girl. It was a staple growing up. It is a barbecue based stew that we used to throw in a crockpot with whatever leftovers you have. I'm sure at some point in my childhood squirrel or rabbit found its way into the pot. I personally have never chosen to eat or cook either of said wild game. This is basically what I put in it but can be substituted with whatever leftovers you have (even squirrel or rabbit if that is how you roll).

Pork or Ham
Chicken broth
Lima beans (not my favorite)
Green beans
Canned tomatoes
*Liquid smoke
*Brown sugar
(*or bbq sauce instead of the previous four if this scares you or you don't have)
Salt and pepper to taste

I cook it all day and then blend it up sort of chunky with my submersible blender but that isn't necessary. I make a big pot of it and freeze it for another day. Like chili, it just gets better and better. Add some creamed-corn cornbread and you've got a meal made for a...Georgia Girl. Not many people in Colorado have ever had or even heard of such a dish. They just don't know what they are missing! Yum!

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