Wednesday, December 31, 2014

goodbye and good riddance

Goodbye 2014! Except for a couple of lovely moments (mostly during our anniversary in July) I have not enjoyed you at all. Here, let me show you the door and give you a great big little shove to speed you on your way.

I do have to thank you, though, because you've shown me the things that really matter. You've opened my eyes to the true nature of friends and taught me that I can really only count on myself.

And I must admit that you have redeemed yourself the past couple of days by saving the best for last which allows me to look toward 2015 with hope and excitement.

So thanks...but get the h*## out now because it's time to party like a rockstar!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve at Tor House

I had to work today.

That kind of sucks.

Christmas Eve has always been my favorite day of the year and usually I like to spend it at home, baking treats, listening to Christmas music and watching the lights on the tree.

This year, not so much.

So maybe it wasn't so bad that I had to go into work.

I can't think of a more magical place to spend a blustery Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blue Plate Special - French Onion Soup

Live with a Frenchman long enough and you'll end up making French Onion Soup for him...and quaking in your boots about whether or not it lives up to his mother's (or in this case, father's) recipe.

So I found a recipe I wanted to try last week. It was pretty easy, not a lot of steps or ingredients but you have to set aside an afternoon to make it because it takes about 4 hours of prep time.

Yeah, you read that right - 4 hours. What was I thinking?

 Start with 3 tablespoons of butter in an oven-proof pot and then add in 6 yellow onions cut in 1/4 inch slices (pole to pole) along with a teaspoon of salt.

 Cover and cook in a 400 degree oven for an hour.

 Take out of oven and give everything a good stir, scraping the sides of the pot. Then put back in oven with the lid slightly ajar for another hour and a half. Your house smells amazing at this point.

The onions are soft and golden brown.

Put the pot on the stove with a medium-high heat and cook (stirring frequently) until the liquid has evaporated.

 At this point things go pretty quickly. Start de-glazing the pan with 1/4 cup of water and cook until it evaporates. Do this 2-3 times until the onions become very dark and mushy.

At this point you have a big pile of onion goo.

Add 1/2 cup of sherry or white wine and de-glaze one last time, scraping the bottom and sides of your pot.

Add in 6 cups of beef broth, 2 cups of water, a little thyme and a bay leaf and bring to just under a boil. Then reduce your heat and simmer for 30 minutes. You're almost finished at this point, I promise!

Finish it off with toasted french bread and a whole lot of cheese (I used Swiss) and put under the broiler for a few minutes until cheese melts and voila

The perfect French Onion Soup!

And the French guy that lives here - he loved it.


6 yellow onions
3 tablespoons butter 
1 teaspoon salt

water to de-glaze - 1/4 cup at a time

1/2 cup sherry or white wine

6 cups beef broth (I used 8 and skipped the next ingredient)
2 cups water
sprinkle of thyme
1 bay leaf (don't forget to fish it out at the end!)
salt and pepper to taste

sliced French bread - toasted
Swiss/gruyere cheese

Monday, December 8, 2014

in the mood

I have a confession to make - I am so not in the mood for Christmas this year. 

I don't usually feel this way, last year I had the house fully decorated by Thanksgiving afternoon and I hated taking it all down in January.

I've always loved decorating the house for Christmas. As a kid I would help Dad put up the Christmas tree in the living room every year.

Yes, our tree was artificial but don't judge because it was the awesomest tree in the whole world. It was made out of green and white loops of some metallic material that, although not the least bit realistic, looked amazing - especially at night. The tree was set in a motorized, rotating base and covered with round, red ornaments. I used to sneak in there at night, filled with awe, while I watched  the tree slowly go around and around in front of our bay window. I loved that tree.

And then there was Christmas Eve, opening presents with the whole family. Yeah, we opened on Christmas Eve except for the stuff Santa brought the next morning. I don't know why, it was a tradition handed down by my father's family and none of us kids had any complaint about that.

The tree is long gone and the kids have all grown up (and have kids and grandkids of their own...eek) but at least there are plenty of pictures and old home movies to keep alive the spirit of Christmas past.

Christmas present, however, is another matter.

 Meet Lance. He's my suit of armor and I love him. He was a Christmas present from the man of the place several years ago although it took almost a decade before Lance and I were living in the same place.

Lance loves Christmas and has graciously agreed to be my "tree" this year. I may not be in the mood to pull out the tree and all the decorations but I'm always in the mood to play dress up with a suit of armor. Who wouldn't want to do that? 

Although I have to admit he looks a bit more like a scary character out of Lord of the Rings than Santa.