I absolutely love this time of year. New Year’s is the perfect time to look forward, to refresh yourself or reinvent yourself. I always look forward to the new surprises and challenges that will come with the new year. But New Year’s Eve is the time to look back and reflect on everything that’s come before.
Here’s a snapshot of the past year, for me. It’s been a pretty busy one, I think, by anyone’s standards. New motherhood, new baby and a new house all came together to make 2013 very special for me. I did a recap a la Bridget Jones, although don’t make me try to calculate how many units of alcohol I had – gross.
More celebrations to be had in my family! I feel the need to clarify – the great news we’ve been celebrating is engagements in our family. My little sister just returned from Bali, newly engaged, so we obviously had to have a dinner for them.
I’ve been wanting to try a recipe from Atco’s Blue Flame Kitchen’s Holiday Cookbook for years, actually: Turkey Saltimbocca with Parsley Wine Sauce. It is elegant and delicious. I wasn’t able to find any turkey breasts at the last minute, so this became Chicken Saltimbocca. That’s fine – everyone will be having turkey in a week anyway.
This is another one of Clotilde Dusoulier’s recipes (from Chocolate and Zucchini), and it is so pretty as a dessert, but it is also not too sweet and I find it makes a nice (if somewhat decadent) breakfast. The dough has very little sugar in it at all and you do get the slight flavour of the beer and yeast that make up the batter. I don’t have an apple corer, so I couldn’t produce the lovely rounds of thinly sliced apple, so I did the best I could with my little apple crescents. I think it ended up looking quite nice.
The Eternal Ones, by Kristen Miller
Book description: Haven Moore has always lived in the tiny town of Snope City, Tennessee. But for as long as she can remember, Haven has experienced visions of a past life as a girl named Constance, whose love for a boy called Ethan ended in a fiery tragedy.
One day, the sight of notorious playboy Iain Morrow on television brings Haven to her knees. Haven flees to New York City to find Iain and there, she is swept up in an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Is Iain her beloved Ethan? Or is her her murderer in a past life? Haven asks the members of the powerful and mysterious Ouroboros Society to help her unlock the mysteries of reincarnation and discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again. But what is the Ouroboros Society? And how can Haven know who to trust?
My review: Really great start, really weak finish. I was so interested in Haven at the beginning, her life in stifling religious Tennessee, her friendship with gorgeous Beau, their business they have making prom dresses for all the preening southern beauty queens. I thought it was a very cool place to start. And I was into the whole reincarnation thing, and Haven getting the guts to travel to New York City to solve the mystery of her past life.
This was a major undertaking for me, but circumstances called for a special meal – Z finally got home from the Middle East, and earlier than expected (although the trip took a gruelling 61 hours). So I had him back with me, and although he looked as if he would topple over if you breathed on him hard, I wanted to celebrate with something that I know he would enjoy.
This braised rib recipe promised meat that fell off the bones, and that’s exactly what it got. In fact, I was fishing in the sauce with tongs, trying to find all the pieces of meat that had slipped off the bone while the braising was happening. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, if not entirely pretty.
This pasta dish is shockingly pink, and shockingly easy. And delicious. So it wins on all counts (cause how can something not win when it’s bright pink?)
I have another culinary confession to make. I really don’t like beets. I find they are way to earthy for my taste and I never really willingly seek them out. But all things change. This meal looked so pretty I couldn’t help but try it out, and in doing so discovered that maybe beets aren’t so bad after all. And the best part about it is my 10-month-old baby loved it. Anything that gets him to eat is automatically going into meal rotation.
And when I say easy, I really mean it. This takes no longer than the amount of time it takes to boil a pot of pasta. You’re dealing with raw beets so you don’t have to roast them beforehand. Although, funny story, this is actually the first time I’ve really handled beets, raw or otherwise. So you can imagine my surprise when my hand ended up looking like this: