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Volume 41 Issue 22 • Nov 18, 2011
Jan 2012, now in our 41th season

Holiday Cheer

by Jenn Farmer - chef and food fanatic

Here come the holidays.  They are just like a cute little package you don’t want to open, because no matter how beautiful the wrapping, it could contain anything inside.  I was recently reminded of a holiday job I took during my impressionable teen years.  I worked for a department store in special events.  I got to give away free stuff, but I was forced to wear a ridiculous half-price costume. The apple one was the most disturbing.  It is a chapter of my life that I don’t like speaking about as an adult, not even with a therapist. I am convinced this job caused so much deep-seated trauma, which I will find out that was the sole root to all my problems past, present, and possibly future.  I will need to devote several years exorcising all the demons of this experience, ideally on a hot beach, sipping cleansing spirits, where I can do little damage to others. 

I thought I was lucky when I was asked to be St Nicholas’s photographer instead of handing out mistletoe in an elf costume.  Our Santa was a very kind gentleman indeed.   He had obviously been doing it for a long time, and was a natural with the kids as well as the obnoxious parents.  We got along great, and things were going well except one thing, Christmas Music.  Advertising made us play it all day.  To make matters worse, the songs were sung by children with grating high pitched voices not unlike the cartoony rodents called chipmunks that are still popular with the tots.   That kind of music was bad enough to have created an entire generation of unbalanced people. Maybe that is what is wrong with “kids today”; they are being raised by partially insane adults who were forced to hear the chipmunks singing Christmas carols by the 1970s advertising industry.  It was probably created by a bunch of drunk, drug taking, business men, trying to make it to the disco.  It was just bad music played at the wrong speed.  The worst part was that we only had two albums that played continuously.  

One morning, I went into work and the predictably punctual paunchy patriarch was not there.  Our “replacement Santa” that day was young and hip, sporting a motorcycle jacket.  The kids really liked him because he was soft spoken and very nice.  I enjoyed him because he told inappropriate jokes when no one was around, spiked his cocoa with schnapps, and let me turn off the Christmas Music. 
I quizzed my him on the whereabouts of our usual Saint Nicholas. He was clueless, said he was called up from a seasonal temp agency that helped place Santas.     

Later that afternoon we got the news.  Santa had run himself over with his own car.  I was as astonished by this as you probably are.  I guess he was pushing his car with the driver’s door open; he was trying to steer and push on an icy patch.  As the car started to roll, he slipped, and ran his legs and torso over with the car.  I think he had a couple broken ribs, and a black eye.  Oddly enough when he wanted to return to work, they would not allow him to.  I guess parents frown down on having their precious angel sitting on the lap of a man in a costume with a raging shiner.  Personally I would have loved to get my kid’s pic with a less-than-storybook Santa, a photo not soon to be forgotten.  The one thing I always wanted to know was if he was in the red suit when the accident happened.  I secretly hope he was, since watching Santa being loaded onto a stretcher going to the hospital is an amusing image in my sick head.  Children playing on heaps of snow, stopped in mid-snowball throw, watching stunned as Santa is whisked to the hospital only days before Christmas. 

Parents calming hysterical children –“Santa will be out in time to deliver gifts Timmy, I promise.”  I would be that parent who plays the scene to the hilt.  “Timmy, I am so sorry, but I bet Santa will be hospitalized for Christmas.  His magic only works that day, so you will have to wait another year for those worthless toys you want”.  I can put up with a couple days of whining and crying for that kind of satisfaction.  I told you that Christmas music caused irreparable damage to my fragile mind. 
  Well that is my holiday spirited story. And here are some of the recipes that get me through this exciting season.  I can feel the spirit of the season already; I am nursing my child through his first illness of winter and I feel glamorous.  ‘Tis the season.  

Leftover Turkey Salad

  • 2 cups cubed, cooked turkey or chicken
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1  cup peas (frozen or blanched fresh)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon wasabi
  • One cup chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 cup toasted, slivered almonds

Combine everything except noodles and almonds.  Chill well for a couple of hours; add noodles and nuts before serving.  For a change add some citrus or dried cranberries for color and texture. 

Lemon Breakfast Loaf

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 half cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbsp. lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar by hand in a large bowl.  Add eggs one at a time beating in between each addition.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix the lemon rind into the milk.  Add flour and milk alternately to the creamed mixture.  Pour into a buttered and floured 8.5 by 4.5 loaf pan. While the loaf is baking, mix together the lemon juice and sugar.  Bake for one hour or until cake tester comes out cleanly.  Pour the lemon and sugar mix over the hot loaf.  Cool for about ten minutes before turning loaf out of pan onto rack to cool. 

Gingerbread Man (or Mommy’s little helper)

  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • 2 ounces Frangelico liqueur
  • 1 ounce butterscotch schnapps
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • 1 ounce dark rum

Combine first 3 ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake and strain into a martini glass.  Top with ginger beer, and sink the dark rum over the back of a spoon it creates a layer.  Garnish with a gingerbread man.  Lock yourself into a bathroom to simulate a quiet and soothing environment.

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