Hopefully all the cards that I sent out last week have reached their recipients today and this isn’t spoiling anything! I decided to go with a design that involved a lot fewer steps than my Christmas cards, which meant that I could send out about three times as many. ^_^ One lucky person benefited from my utter failure to count properly and got a slightly different version which, no doubt thanks to Murphy’s Law, ended up looking cuter than the rest.
Finally, for the last of my holiday posts, a jar of homemade sweet orange sugar scrub that I gave to a few of my friends. It’s best to use sugar scrubs, as sugar is not as irritating or dehydrating as salt. This is a simple mixture of organic cane sugar, olive oil, sweet orange essential oil, and a bit of food coloring, dressed up in a pretty Italian jar. I had the chance to try some that was left over and came out of the shower with soft, exfoliated skin smelling lightly of oranges.
This year—well, last year—I decided to make my Christmas cards by hand. Thankfully I only had about half a dozen to do, because between the stamping, the drawing, the transferring, the inking, the glitter, and the lettering, these took a lot longer than I expected! Since I would like to send out more the next time around, I will either need to greatly simplify my design and crafting process or just get them printed.
Now that the holidays are over, I have some pictures to share, starting with food, of course. Although the Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) is usually made for Christmas, I’ve made it a tradition to bake it as dessert for New Year’s Eve. After a couple years of stubbornly trying to make a certain recipe work and ending up with nothing but headaches, I jettisoned it in favor of the recipe in The Joy of Cooking (Scribner, 2006) and have not looked back since.
The log consists of a sheet of chocolate genoise soaked with a little bit of brandy, coffee buttercream in the center, and chocolate buttercream on the outside. Sadly, the tube of white gel icing I bought to make a more pronounced bark effect decided to run away from my pantry. The decorations are plastic ones we’ve saved from logs we had in France. I keep meaning to make little meringue mushrooms to decorate with, but then realize the recipe I have is for something like 60 mushrooms, when I only need three. Since the chocolate genoise plus chocolate buttercream were a little bit overkill, I’m planning on making a vanilla genoise next time.
The best part of any holiday is using it as an excuse to make and enjoy lots of good food. Since our last two barbecues have been burgers, I decided it was time to do something different. Spending all day in the kitchen was definitely worth the results and a fridge full of leftovers means I get to take the day off from cooking today! Since this post is a bit heavy on the photos, read on for the full menu and recipes.
Since Memorial Day this year fell after the end of spring quarter, I had the chance to celebrate and grill with the family. In an attempt to improve on the somewhat liquid turnout of the patties two summers ago, I decided once again to make the turkey burgers with bacon, Swiss, and spicy mayonnaise from the July 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living. Last time I made these, I tried to save some time by chopping the red onion and cilantro that go into the patties using a food processor, which turned them into mush and made the patties runny and nearly impossible to grill. This year, I sucked up the tears and diced the red onion by hand, which resulted in perfectly shaped burgers:
And no problems on the grill for my dad:
Following the recipe practically to the letter, I also made the spicy mayonnaise instead of the Real Simple homemade Caesar sauce I substituted last time. It definitely had a lot more kick than I expected—and about as much as I could stand eating—but paired wonderfully with the cilantro and Dijon in the patties. Rounding out the burger filling were lettuce, tomato, and hickory smoked bacon, all on sourdough buns that I baked myself the day before!
For the liquid accompaniment I used the Kiwifruit Caipiroska recipe in the current (June) issue of Living, which turned out too bitter for everyone’s tastes. Already planning for next time, I’m thinking about making either watermelon margaritas or the Pimm’s Cup recipe in the same issue.
The whole table, before everything got devoured:
Overall, a success—with even some leftovers for lunch the next day!