Are you still stuffed from Thanksgiving? We had some fabulous food! Our heritage turkey was super flavorful and moist, we all loved it. We were surprised at the amount of meat on the carcass: we knew we were used to ‘beefed up’ turkeys, but we had no idea that a ‘real’ turkey had that much less meat on it. It was ‘skinny’ as my mom said, and there weren’t many leftovers after the main meal. This was not due to over-eating, either! We will do it again next year, though; the flavor was out of this world! Of course, dad’s brine and bbq methods were a big boost to that deal.

Lisa and Nikki and mom did a wonderful job of all the sides and we ate well, let me tell you! I do have a new favorite thing and I could not stop making yummy noises over it! My sister-in-love, Nikki, took some radicchio heads and cut them in half. She brushed them with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, and through them on the grill. When they were done through she plated them, drizzled them with good balsamic, and dropped goat cheese all over them. OH. MY. GAWD. It was SOOOO good! The bitter radicchio was taken to new heights by the smokiness of the grill. Those aspects were heightened even more by the acidity and sweetness of the balsamic, and the mellow, sweet goat cheese balanced everything out beautifully. I have had this dish one other time and it was good, but Nikki’s was phenomenal. I had 2 that night and scored one more for leftovers, which I freshened up with a bit of balsamic and MMMMMMMMM!!!!!!! You have got to try it! Everyone enjoyed the pumpkin and huckleberry pies that we brought, along with the dinner rolls.

Last night I made more mashed potatoes, baked some yams, reheated the dressings/turkey (and some pork loin we had left cuz there was not enough turkey to be happy)/radicchio, poured some wine and had yet another fabulous feast from the foods that we enjoyed on Thanksgiving. This morning Mark turned the mashed spuds into mashed potato pancakes and we had them with our farm fresh eggs (same farm as the turkey) and I must say, we are blessed beyond belief! Mom gave me the turkey carcass so I will start the turkey stock tomorrow and we will have soup all week now. MMMMMmmmmm

Today Mark is at the cafe prepping up the morning bake for Lori to do tomorrow. She was kind enough to pitch in so that we can sleep in since we are going to the AC/DC concert tonight. (I am so excited!) Then tomorrow we will be back at it: getting ready for all the holiday catering; Christmas/Solstice and Hanukkah cookies galore; and one of our favorite holiday events ‘Tea & Stories with Mrs. Claus’.

We love it when Mrs. Claus comes to visit each year and the kids are so wonderful with her! Where some kids may be a little scared or intimidated by Santa, they are awed by Mrs. Claus and they find her endearing, of course. They are always on their best behavior (She does have a direct line to the big man, after all!) and the personal touch that she offers each child is absolutely magical. After she greets everyone the kids gather round for stories out of her personal Christmas book collection, and then she gives the kids books to take back to their table and read with their families. Then they re-gather around her and the whole crowd sings Christmas carols with her. The plates of goodies and hot cocoa fill their tummies with goodness and by the time they leave with their goody bags clutched tightly, they are ready for naps so they can dream of the big day that is coming soon. We all love watching the kids interact with Mrs. Claus, each other, and their own families. It reminds us well of the magic of Christmas in childhood. I only wish there was a Hanukkah equivalent that we could offer; I have yet to come up with a good idea for that.

What are your Christmas memories from childhood? I hope they are good and warm and full of love. If not, I hope that you have been able to create better memories as an adult and are able to find the magic of the season!