Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home Made Christmas

Christmas in my family has always been something of a big deal. Even with us kids in our mid to late (ahem) twenties, we still all gather around the tree in our pajamas on Christmas morn to share gifts and empty our stockings. The warmth of my parent's home welcomes us as we travel in from different ends of the state to share the season with each other.

On Christmas Day, extended family and friends arrive to partake in a feast with their own dishes to add to the table. Recently, my dad and I have decided to get a little crafty with the menu, and the meals have turned out, if I do say so myself, simply amazing. And the best part? Nothing came from a box or a can.

In a repeat performance of last year's Christmas dinner, we served a Bourbon and Molasses glazed ham. This glaze alone is enough to get mouths watering, but caramelized onto the ham is just short of heaven. The glaze would be good drizzled over an old Birkenstock, that's just how delicious it is.

Oh, yeah, that ham was good. Not wanting to complicate things too much, the next dish was a menagerie of vegetables, tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted in the oven until the veggies were soft and the balsamic had caramelized. It is such a simple recipe that produces an outstanding result. We combined zucchini, acorn squash, carrots, pearl onions, bell pepper, asparagus, and even a couple of hot peppers into a giant orange bowl and got to work. For anyone wanting to give this a shot for their next dinner party, I advise you to eliminate the hot peppers from the recipe. They permeate the entire dish, and give it unnecessary heat. Unless you're into that sort of thing.

While the veggies were in the oven, my dear sweet mum and sister were busy preparing another holiday favorite: Deviled Eggs. Bless her heart, but this is the only thing my sister knows how to cook. Using our grandmother's secret recipe, she and my mother boiled, shelled, halved, mixed, and filled the eggs that would soon quickly disappear from the egg plate.

And once the egg-prep station had moved off the table, it was time to make the dough for my Angel Biscuits. If you remember, I made these for Thanksgiving dinner as well, and they were a big hit.

Three batches of biscuits were reduced to a half dozen by the time dinner was over. Served with freshly home made pomegranate jam, these light, airy biscuits were perfect with the rest of the meal. And who doesn't want to load up on carbs on Christmas?

This Christmas dinner was fantastic. The best part truly was spending the day in the kitchen with my wife, sister, mom and dad while we put this feast together. The food was amazing, but the company made it perfect. I hope everyone was able to spend this Christmas and holiday season enjoying delicious food with the people that you love. I wish you all a very, very happy new year. Enjoy!

Pictured are me, my lil' sister, and my dad. My mother is off somewhere fussing about the dinnerware. Mrs. Rosewater is behind the camera, as always.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Delicious South

I'm a Damn Yankee, born and bred, and worse than that, a Californian. I make no apologies for these things; the Left Coast is my home and it probably always will be. Even so, I will take any excuse I can get to head to the South and see how gentile folk live. It is always a chance to see new places, meet great people, and eat amazing food.

So when Mrs. Rosewater and I were invited to take part in my bff's college graduation festivities in Charleston, South Carolina, we didn't waste much time booking our flights and reserving our room at Chez Gump. I'd never been to Charleston, and knew very little about the actual city. Turns out we were about to be impressed. Before we ever got on a plane, we were promised a Lowcountry Boil after the graduation ceremony, so I knew it was going to be a good weekend. But first I had to figure out what a Lowcountry Boil was.

Charleston is an amazing city with a story that dates back to before the beginning of our nation. It is quite simply history we do not have out here on the Pacific. It is where the Civil War began, where early refugees escaping religious persecution sought sanctuary, and owns it's own very unique culinary history. One of the many regional delights to come out of the hundreds of years of South Carolina history is the Lowcountry Boil. A tradition started as a way to feed a large group of people quickly and easily, the boil is quite literally a huge pot of sausage, vegetables, potatoes, and seafood (usually shrimp) seasoned, boiled, and dumped onto a long table covered in newspaper.

The word you are looking for is "yummy". Once the boil was dumped out onto the table, we piled our plates high and tucked in. This is real finger food.

Our gracious hosts treated us to this fantastic meal, coupled with some beer from America's oldest brewery and some grilled linguica to snack on as the party wore into the wee hours.

The boil was a great introduction to South Carolinan cuisine, and a perfect way to celebrate a great friend's special day. (That and the beer. We may have put away a couple of pints of that as well.) The day after the party, it was time to do some sightseeing, at least as much as we could pack into one day. We drove out to Sullivan's Island, a touristy beach community and home to Fort Moultrie, notable mainly because it is where Edgar Allan Poe was once stationed during his stint in the military. (Notable for that reason to me. Probably notable to others for various reasons, some of which may include the Civil War.)

Nearby, some enterprising restraunteur is cashing in on the name of Fort Moultrie's famous literary resident at Poe's Tavern. Situated in a converted beach house, the casual restaurant is a big draw for tourists during the summer. They serve a pretty simple menu, burgers and sandwiches and the like, but with some tasty little twists that make it much better than your average burger joint. We had a great lunch out on the covered wood porch before heading back into downtown Charleston for a walking tour of the city.

One last thing we discovered while in Charleston: Our friends introduced us to Firefly, a locally made firewater (vodka) infused with the flavor of sweet tea. If you are looking for something new and fun to serve at your next party, this should be it.

This trip was a blast, thanks to some of the best friends anyone could ask for. So to Eric, Amy, and Bryson, thanks for everything. We can't wait to come back.