Sunday, December 27, 2009

Adventures of the Flinching Gourmet

So.... Rachel and I decided that we wanted to start our own traditions this Christmas. We felt like being in our home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning was important to us. We attended a Christmas Eve service at the Presbyterian church (we're friends with the minister). After looking at Christmas lights and running by some friends' house, we headed home.

We had already started cooking that afternoon, so the potato gratin was already half way finished. We started the popovers and readied the asparagus for roasting. Now to the main event. Rachel stopped by Weldon's Meat Market in Hot Springs a few days before to pick up a couple of filets. I was at home for lunch when she brought the steaks in; I unwrapped the package to examine her purchase - never before had my mouth watered at the smell of raw meat. We were making our Tennessee version of Steak Au Poivre (Peppercorn Steak). We call it a Tennessee version because instead of the traditional cognac to deglaze the pan, we use Jack Daniel's. After searing the steaks, start the sauce by adding garlic and shallots, then deglaze the pan. Then using a lighter, carefully ignite the remaining alcohol to burn it off.

Lighting of the Advent Whiskey

I really have done this before - it just looks like I haven't. Rachel captured such a wonderful shot, I couldn't not share it. Nothing in the kitchen caught fire, and the flames eventually burned away (it took like two full minutes - not like the ten seconds they show you on television). After adding beef stock, cream, and a few other ingredients, the steaks are returned to the sauce for a few minutes.

The meal turned out wonderfully: Tennessee Steak Au Poivre, Rosemary Infused Potato Gratin, Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest, and Simple Popovers. We were delighted. We even used our fine china, crystal, and fancy flatware. It was a great first Christmas together.

This Christmas would have been perfect had I not developed one of the worst cases of exudative tonsillitis I've ever seen - I'll spare you the pictures.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

So.... from both of us to all of you:

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Card of Christmas Past

So.... in 1986, the Texarkana Arkansas School District announced that their Christmas Card that year would be chosen from a design submitted by a student in the district. I was in fifth grade and referencing the razorback motif (the high school's mascot), I submitted my design in early October. And thought nothing about it.

In early December, our principal Mr. Thompson came to our classroom and presented me with a framed copy of the District's 1986 Christmas Card.

This year Rachel and I found a way to incorporate the framed copy into our Christmas decor. It stands proudly amongst our collection of Santas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


So.... Rachel and I decided that we should try to be conservative this year, so we picked a dollar amount that we could spend on each other and worked very hard to get each other lots of little gifts that were creative but meaningful (and in the budget). We've been wrapping each other's presents (and other folk's gifts) over the last couple of weeks, and it's been fun to watch the pile grow.

I've always put up a tree and usually put the gifts I'm giving to friends and family under it, but it sure is fun to see packages for me under the tree this year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


So.... some of you may know that I collect Fontanini Nativity Figurines. My ever growing collection has a special place on a bookcase in the living room. It helps to remind me of the true importance of Christmas.

This year is marked by the goat getting to help the angel proclaim the good news of Christ's birth.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

easy post

So.... I thought I'd take the opportunity to use one of my favorite photos from the wedding as a way to make a really easy blog post. Enjoy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Live Oak Photos

So.... my parents have this wonderful old Live Oak tree across the street from them. On Thanksgiving Day, after nearly stuffing ourselves with as much food as we could eat, and after a short nap, Rachel and I coerced my mom, dad, and sister into taking some photos of us in front of the Live Oak. My mom was even gracious enough to let us borrow her leather wing chair.

Sometimes you have to take several photos (sometimes 139) to finally get one you love.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Candy

So.... Rachel and I spent one Saturday afternoon this December making candy.

We made millionaires...

chocolate dipped pretzels, chex mix...

chocolate dipped pringles, and everyone's favorite....

Christmas Wreaths!