Holiday forecast: fare to partly portly

Photo: Brian Immel, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: Brian Immel, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

I can always tell when the holidays are approaching by looking in the mirror. My cheeks get a little fuller, my pants get a little tighter, and my normally clear complexion begins to show the stigmata of over-indulgence. I think of them as chocolate and gravy bumps. There is one on my forehead between my eyes this morning–a last Thanksgiving leftover–sort of the opposite of a mystical “third eye.”

But enough of my body dysmorphia. It’s not like I have an exercise plan or a New Year’s resolution to do anything about the situation. I’m a happy eater; none of your holiday fare is safe in my presence. I love it all, the cookies, the pies, the candy, the nuts, the steaming roasts and  the gravy.

Some of my very favorites have been worked out over the years to become family traditions. For years Christmas Eve dinner called for breaded chicken cutlets, “Straw and Hay”–that’s a mix of green and white fettuccine tossed with butter, olive oil and toasted garlic. (I could eat a mangerfull.) A token amount of steamed broccoli on the side. Maybe a scoop of candy cane ice cream for dessert.

Breakfast on Christmas morning: French toast made using eggnog. Three–no four–strips of bacon (plus the one I sneaked during cooking). Coffee made with a curl of cinnamon bark crumbled into the grind.

And Christmas dinner? Cubano-style: pork tenderloin rubbed with garlic and oregano, wet-roasted and basted with red wine and Seville orange juice,  served with piles of black beans and rice. And a gravy boat full of mojo criollo generously applied to everything. Mojo–for those not in the know–is thinly sliced onion and a rude amount of garlic soaked in citrus juice and salt, then flash cooked in an insane amount of olive oil. Dessert can be more Americano, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, or apple pie with ice cream. It’s all good.

If I haven’t made you hungry, check your pulse. Or better yet, stimulate my salivary glands with your own traditional holiday fare in a comment below.


9 Comments on “Holiday forecast: fare to partly portly”

  1. Monique says:

    My mother’s French Canadian meat pies are to die for… homemade crust (obviously), mixture of ground pork and beef, potato and spices.

  2. j.a. cook says:

    I do so want to copy your Xmas eve dinner especially the green bean and Fettacini side dish

  3. Rolene O'Brien says:

    Food choices for the holiday: so much better than discussing the latest fad gifts. And yes, my mouth was watering by the middle of the column. Straw & Hay, so easy, delicious-sounding. Thanks for the tasty morning read.

  4. ncpradmin says:

    J.A.–Actually we make Straw and Hay without green beans, we use spinach fettuccine and white fettuccine mixed for the green and white colors, but there are a lot of variations. Some green in up with peas or with shreds of zucchini, some add cream to the sauce for a more Alfredo feel. And of course grated parmesan is a welcome topper. I have also seen a little sauteed prosciutto mixed in. Bon appetit.

    Dale Hobson, NCPR

  5. ncpradmin says:


    You mean all these years I have been wasting pie crust on fruits and vegetables? Meat. Pie. MMmmm.


  6. Claudia MacDonald says:

    A tradition from my family (my father’s side) is oyster stew with oyster crax (little round white crax)
    for breakfast. May be a French tradition as his background is French, Indian with some Anglo genes thrown in to make for a motley crew of descendants! My eldest son and I are the only family members who continue this tradition. Dad used to tell my sisters and me (we have no brothers) that the reason for having oyster stew for breakfast was get some solid, non-desert food in our stomachs before the goodies came out for general consumption.
    Your description of your dinner sounds divine. I would just drop in if I weren’t going to be in Maine! Best wishes for a joyful holiday!

  7. Nancy says:

    What time do you want us there for dinner? Sounds wonderful!

  8. Pete Klein says:

    What holiday are we talking about?

  9. Trude Wright says:

    I agree, I also would love Christmas dinner recipes. Sounds yummy. Will you share?

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