I write to you on the Eve of the Eve of the New Year, from Washington DC! I'm on the top floor of a creaky old house where I'm living with a few other actors and designers all working on a show at this venerated institution, which is directly across the street. From my window I can see the dome of the Capitol Building, lit up against the cold December night. I am looking forward to an exciting and challenging few months here. If the first two days are any indication I believe this project will considerably expand my vocal range, my physical endurance, and my respect for the House of Atreus. Those crazy Greeks...
Since I've only been in DC two days working 9AM to 530PM (and, ok, basically in bed by, kind of, now) I havent yet even begun to explore this town, culinarily or otherwise. I'm told there's a lot to write home about, but those "in the field" posts will come later.
It's been a while since I posted, for all sorts of happy reasons involving a) an actual food journalism assignment that had to be completed (!more on that later) and b) of course, The Holidays.
So, let me just cut to the chase, which in this case looks like this:
When I say "Mincemeat" you say "Pie"!
(I made this.)
I missed you ! (And the Boyfriend) over Xmas. It was both weird and wonderful to do this Big Holiday in such a new way this year. At first I was afraid. How will this work? You'll be in Florida, I'll be at Helena's place in Irvington... we won't be in NJ sharing the time-honored rituals of lost cognac balls, forgotten Buches, and enormous hams. It was new. And though tinged with nostalgia and some sadness, it was also ... kind of awesome.
I will not even attempt the full story of the delights that were packed into this beautiful little Yuletide-on-Hudson celebration. Helena and I had a 'production meeting' a full two weeks in advance to confirm the small guest list, plan the menus, and schedule activities. (The Date, by phone on Christmas Night: "It's like you bought an all-inclusive Irvington Christmas Package". Wearing my newly acquired Wolf Hat and sipping a hot toddy while preparing to watch Its A Wonderful Life, I solemnly nodded in agreement.)
All-inclusive indeed! It was a great hodge podge of everyone's nostalgic Must-Haves (Helena's grandmother's Divinity recipe, HBF's traditional viewing of "Home Alone"), plus bold steps all our own. To be sure, I made everyone listen to Dylan Thomas reading A Child's Christmas In Wales (a la Hart), but I also seized the opportunity to make a dessert I knew no one in our family would ever go for: the mince pie, which as you know I discovered in Ireland over Xmas 2007.
Going to bed on the Eve covered in flour and butter, I heard HBF on the phone downstairs to his family, expressing exactly the emotions I was feeling. On the one hand, he missed them, and was reminiscing about Christmas Past. On the other, he was suffused with joy and excitement at 'Christmas of the Future'. There's a significant moment in a person's life when a holiday turns from something that you Get to something that you are able to Give. And fact that The Mother was able to come up to Irvington!! to eat our food, open presents under our cracked-out tree, and sing "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" with us was ... well, I think I've said it all.
personalized, bedazzled stockings and songbooks
And you know what? The Mother ate a whole piece of mince pie after all. God Bless Us, Every One. And Happy New Year!!!
PS I also made these cookies which were a big hit and you can eat the leftover lemon curd on your Christmas Morning gingerbread pancakes (we suggest one egg and a lot more milk)