Peter & Tom Sitting in a Tree

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Growing up, there was a Thanksgiving song we would sing, “The Turkey Ran Away.” Well, I think Tom the Turkey and Peter the Rabbit ran away; and, now they’re sitting in a tree laughing at the woes of one Paula Rivera.

Goffle Road Pultry

I called my poultry guy (true confession, I don’t yet have enough of a relationship with them to refer to them as my ‘guys’), Goffle Road Poultry Farm, to order a rabbit for Christmas. I could hear the guy smirking as he kindly explained, ‘we’re sold out of rabbit.’ Sigh. What to do for Christmas, get a turkey; order a hen; chicken for my friends? All dismal thoughts (only dismal as we eat these things regularly). So I went for the duck. Yes, daffy duck was the menu for Christmas.

In finding a recipe, I went to all my standard books, Fannie Farmer, two Gourmet cookbooks, and even my Spanish and French books. But, alas, it was Burt, good ol’ Burt Wolf, who came to my rescue.

Taiwanese Duck #Yummy

My husband was lobbying for a crispy duck and that, ultimately, what I would have liked to have made. The goddess of time was not swayed to favor me this Christmas season. The one recipe I found for ‘crispy duck’ was in the Gourmet Cookbook. It was a two day recipe that involved a fan and the duck’s cavity. Burt’s recipe on the other hand only involved four hours of simmering. Yes, simmering. I thought I was cooking the effing thing in the oven and discovered my faux pas early Christmas morning providing enough angst to throw my entire day off.

All worked out well the day’s menu started with stuff clams, shrimp cocktail, cheese, olives and bread, and some Greek apps; duck, turnip and mushrooms, and acorn squash with spinach (again, thanks Burt and #Yummy), followed for the main meal. Dessert consisted of an assortment of chocolates and a selection of cordials to top off the evening.

I’m beginning to plan our winter and spring travels and have determined that I need a winter ‘things to do’ list which I plan to put together over the coming week(s). I’ll keep you updated as the days progress — which are getting longer. Until then, I wish you safe travels, smooth sailings and, of course, bon appetite.

Peter, Where are You?!?

I’ve been side-tracked more ways than I care to think about. The tree has taken a year and a day to buy, ‘install’, decorate, and get in its final place. Oh, and I use decorate sparingly; once the tree was installed, I started hanging lights, as you’re supposed to, only to discover I didn’t have enough. Deep Sigh…

I’ve purchased the remaining lights, finished the decorations as best I could and have since continued on with my life. So, things are good. But there’s still so much to do; another deep sigh. I’m making Peter for Christmas…err, I’m making rabbit (a post will definitely follow as this is not my forte and I feel that everybody, and their brother, should learn from my experiences). And, I really would like to find the recipe I used the first time I threw Peter over the fire as it was good.

While that may not happen, I will find a recipe (and order the bunny himself) and get all subsequent ‘doings’ in order.

I’m signing off for the evening as they advise that one shouldn’t blog while drinking and I’m beginning to believe them. That said, reports and postings will be more frequent, and interesting, as we move forward.

As always, I wish you and your family, a merry Christmas and the most wonderful of holidays, smooth sailings, and the happiest of new years.

Lights Out!

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I’ve been to Lights in the Parkway in Allentown, PA and the Christmas Light Show and Village at Skylands Stadium in Augusta, NJ. Both were pretty fantastic (albeit, I enjoyed the Allentown lights better as you literally drove through a park). I almost went to Bright Nights Springfield (MA) over Thanksgiving, but, unfortunately, time was not on our side.

Waiting to be Lit Up in Hershey, PA

With the days winding down, I am hoping that you’re able to take some time to enjoy the season. And, if that happens to be in the evening consider taking a road trip to your local “light shows.” The roster of displays I’m most familiar with is limited, so I did some legwork and gathered some favorite picks up and down the east coast as culled by people more intimately knowledgeable on the subject than myself:

Eastern PA – The folks over at The Patch identify their Top 5 light displays in the easterly part of the state. While Mommy Poppins (I love Mommy Poppins; even if you don’t have kids, she does a fabulous job curating what’s going on — for young and old alike — in the NJ area and often includes neighboring states!) details out more than 15 shows in the greater Philly area, including the burbs

Hudson Valley, NY – Our friends at Hudson Valley Magazine have gathered 12 light shows ranging from a tree lighting in Nyack to a show in Newburgh that has dancing arches.

MarylandChesapeake Family lists out tree lighting ceremonies and on-going displays throughout the month. Most of the ceremonies have taken place, but the static displays are still going on.

New England Yankee Magazine details out some of the best light shows in New England. For state-specific shows, visit: Kicks 1055 for CT (good ol’ Mommy Poppins also has a list); our friends at Visit Maine present 20 sites throughout the state; in NH, the writers at NH Magazine give their selections for the best; the folks at The Globe have chosen 10 displays from MA, including Bright Nights; and WPRI Channel 12 in RI serves up their choices for the best shows in the state. I’ve left Vermont off as that turned into an expedition of hunting and pecking and, like the writers at Yankee Magazine, I’m left scratching my head.

New York – Of course the City is all all aglow this time of year (more so than usual) and has some fantastic displays as described in Time Out NY (again, Ms. Poppins also has a listing for NYC). For those North of the city, New York Upstate details list out some offerings.

This list is by no means exhaustive, just some thought starters for those of you looking to fill time between now and the new year. If you can’t find what you’re looking for or are traveling outside the Northeast, Travel + Leisure has a list of Christmas light shows in every state.

It’s time for to start thinking about turning out the lights here at Casa Rivera; and, with that, I’m wishing you all safe travels, smooth sailings and, of course, bon appetite.

Random Musings…

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It’s Saturday morning and I’m having a difficult time getting motivated.  Probably because I was up until 3 am last evening, putting together cookie boxes for my husband, cleaning the kitchen and watching the Titanic, a horrific disaster that rivets me.  

#Yummy

I need to finish decorating — we’re finally getting our tree this weekend.  However, prior to tackling that desperately needed task — it’s not quite yet looking a lot like Christmas in the Rivera household — I’ll share some thoughts: 

Nailed It:  One of the reasons I started this blog was to learn to become a better cook (if you saw how long it takes me to cut an onion, you’d understand my plight).  While the blog has seen it’s fair share of starts and stops, over the years my cooking has improved and last evening, I Nailed Dinner!  It wasn’t fancy — short ribs, pasta with broccoli and olives (Gluten free for those worried about Tony and his Paleo diet), and a nice salad.  A simple, yet oh-so-delicious meal which took 20 minutes to make.  No fuss, no muss and, yes my arm is hurting from patting myself on the back (I’m surprised I can type today). 

When in a Pinch #BakingHack

Sifting:  Don’t neglect the sifting of ingredients when baking.  I say this chuckling, because it’s a step I will put aside on occasion — when time is tight, I’m not trying to impress anyone, or I’m just not into whatever I’m making or, more precisely, whomever I’m baking for.  But sifting plays an important part of one’s baking endeavors — it creates a clean, smooth consistency of whatever it is that is being sifted and eliminates the ‘ick, I just bit into a ball of flour,’ embarrassments.  I first noticed the importance with powdered sugar.  When skipping the sifting step, inevitably, my icing looks awful, like there’s a bunch of tiny, tiny pebbles in it.  

The Paint Holder Doohickey

The Grommet:  Not sure how new this site is, but they’ve been advertising on TV lately (I always chuckle when an online merchant turns to traditional advertising to reach the masses) and I decided to check them out for some ‘hmm what do I get her’ gifts.  They have a fantastic and quasi-unique selection of goods eliminating the ‘here’s 28,654 crafting options’ you sometimes have to wade through with Amazon.   The one downside, it appears that they work with multiple vendors and sometimes your items aren’t shipped together.  So my colleague’s box of cool crafting items may arrive at her doorstep piecemeal.  A con or a positive in disguise?  I’m not sure.  It could be kind of fun/funny to receive a mini, electric screwdriver one day, the replacement paint holder things the next, and a few days later the paint holder doohickey a few days later.  Even funnier if they don’t put in the ‘Thanks for all the support this year’ gift card request I made. 

I could continue with my musings and I’m confident y’all would read, attentively, clinging to every last word. But I must sign off so that I can attack the decorating.  

As always, I wish each of you safe travels, smooth sailings, and, of course, bon appetite. 

Breaking Bread

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Tonight’s Artisan Bread

Oh, I love bread…especially fresh baked bread.  I’m fortunate to live in an area with at least 5 bakeries within a two square mile radius — and they’re all good in their own right.  One is open 24/7/365.  If it appears ‘closed’ there’s a side door you can go in where you’ll find yourself in a flour-gritty building that resembles a garage where bread, pretty much right out of the oven, is for sale.  I’ve learned the hard way, when stopping by outside of normal hours or on an actual holiday — like Easter — is that you need to go in with close to exact change as the workers tend not to have a boat load of money on them to make change of a $10 or $20.  To be fair, it wasn’t that hard, the guy just gave me the bread. 

As I’ve mentioned, my husband’s adopted a Paleo lifestyle.  He’s quick to correct me, “it’s a modified Paleo diet.”  He’s been working with a nutritionist for more than a year now and has lost immense amounts of weight.  He plateaued for about 6 months and Mary Van Something Dutch, the nutritionist, put him on a Paleo diet.   

#Yummy

I haven’t figured out the Paleo rules (all these diets are kind of the same with a few tweaks here and there), but believe that bread is prohibited.  One day, Tony was Kvetching to Something Dutch about his periodic bread cravings; two days later a cookbook arrived in the mail, ‘Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.’ 

The book sat for more than a few days while Tony feverishly did his research, checking out every website offering ‘Gluten Free Bread that Doesn’t Suck.’  The one consistent he found, was indeed this book.  It’s a bit pricey to get all the ingredients, however when you break down the cost per loaf it’s no more than what one would spend at Whole Pay…err Foods.  More importantly,  after following their ‘master recipe’ and making a few batches of dough, it really isn’t that complicated.  And the bread is good; really good.  

So tonight we made Bread, and enjoyed it; so much.  

For the foodies out there looking for some chili ideas, my good friend Donna Chang (it’s a spoof) has started a Vlog series on IGTV (that’s Instagram TV).  The Vlog can be found at @Stellar_rad and one of her first episodes is about Chili.  Her heritage is South American (albeit, she’s now a citizen, #Welcome, and may be more American than myself), so you know her recipe is al cante! 

Here Comes Santa Claus 

That’s it for now, I did half my decorating this evening, will finish this weekend, and am loosing steam.  Some may feel it too late to be decorating, but we celebrate Little Christmas and, inevitably, keep our tree up through the end of January (if not later). 

With that, I bid you safe travels, smooth sailings and, of course, bon appetite.