The holidays were filled with many loved ones and the wonderfully chaotic times that can only come when the family is together. We began our festivities on Christmas Eve, with my cousin Ahmed, his wife Louise, and her mother Mona. They prepared an amazing Swedish Smorgasbord! Glug to start, a warm spiced red wine, with the optional addition of blanched almonds and raisins. With cups in hand we caught up on recent times and let old grudges melt away. Once our hearts and mouths were well oiled and warmed, we moved to the dining room where, awaiting us, was a beautifully garnished array of cold appetizers. Including some of my favorite smoked fishes, Herring and Mackerel with their complimentary vinegary sauces and accompanied by breads of different varieties. Also available were traditional Swedish meatballs and smoked salmon. The hot foods came next and included sausages as well as ribs, neither of which I partook in, but they looked and smelled divine! With the food came the drink. A choice of white or red wine, or beer and a side glass of Schnapps. Dessert consisted of fruit cake and a rice pudding, both looked very appealing and hit the sweet tooth of those who partook. The evening continued in a relaxed digestive mood until Ahmed returned from a brief trip outside dressed as Santa! This made the night! His son seemed not to notice that Ahmed was trying to be in disguise, and simply wanted to sit with his father. It was beyond cute, and gave credit to little Gabriel! So, Santa handed out some gifts and some Ho Ho's and plenty of pictures. What a wonderful Christmas Eve, one I certainly will not forget!
Christmas was the typical situation of the kids scurrying around downstairs eagerly awaiting the parents to wake up, not trying too hard to be quiet...except the "kids" were 22-35 years old! We went through the tradition of preparing breakfast, a heart warming one of homemade waffles with many different toppings. Once the dishes were done we proceeded to gather around our chimney (no tree this year!) and open the gifts one by one. It was truly a bonding experience for us all and brought our guests closer to our family. Many smiles, ooos and aaaaas were exchanged until all that was left was a pile of torn wrapping paper. Each one of us shifted and vanished to our own corners to relish in our new gifts, exploring each one, folding or wearing anything new. I eventually realized that food preparations had began already for the evenings events!
My mom's famous red current tenderloin starred at dinner! She marinates the venison for at least 24 hours, and then cooks it to perfection! Accompanying it is the sweetly acidic sauce full of currents and all sorts of goodness that come together in an admittedly orgasmic way. Giving it support were plenty of roasted veggies, thrown together by yours truly ;) and my dad's famous bread! To tie it all together was red wine from our family friend's vineyard and winery, Paumanok. We took our time enjoying each bite and each meandering of conversation, until the serving dishes were empty. The ended on a note of warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream. What could be better?