Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Well.  The dust has all but settled under the tree again, and we can begin to wax nostalgic for the frenzy, the fretting and the fun that all played their part to bring us Christmas 2008.

I'd managed to not fill the house with a bunch of overly sweet or fattening foods (read:cookies and Chex Mix) on my own this year, but had forgotten to take into account the haunting spectre that is the gifted treat.  Food as gift was big this year and our bodies will be big(ger) next year as a result most likely.

Between professional and away-family gifts of foodstuffs, my resolve to have little but healthy stuff in the house (with a clear exception made for Christmas stocking treats) was blown out of the water by the 23rd.

We ended up with both an enormous (and unfortunately delicious) carrot cake, AND a pecan pie as part of our "from our family to yours" gifting this year.

That, on top of stocking candy, is going to shove me and my body over the line into "yup, gained some" territory again in this, the post-holiday assessment terrain.

However I am reporting this not with regret so much as resignation.  It is what it was, my holiday eating for 2008, and it ain't over quite yet.

Yesterday, as part of what I hope will become a holiday tradition for us, ChefSon came over and prepared for us all a feast of Niman Ranch lamb shanks.  Braising yielded amazingly rich and moist meat topped with a sauce made from a pureé of the mirepoix vegetables.  The lamb and sauce were served up with the last minute addition of caramelized onions and sauteéd Maitaki mushrooms.  (Thank you, Wheatsville, take a bow!  Your meat and produce sections rock!)

ChefSon also made a great creamy polenta which he cooled, sliced, then quickly browned in a hot skillet to provide a textural and colorful contrast to the sauced lamb.  

To round out the feast, we harvested a variety of herbs for the braise and several greens from our garden.  

As a nod to tradition, ChefSon tapped the hambone from a spiral cut honeybaked ham we received as a gift from out of state family. Leaving no reasonable plant source untapped, we were treated to a medly of gorgeous greens.  Collard, chard, mustard, cabbage and broccoli leaves were all rough chopped with stems removed and cooked in the "ham water" to predictably delicious results.    

Perfection.  A Southern Comfort meal that could have come as much from the South of France as from Dixie.  

It was a delight beyond words for this Mommy's heart as I watched ChefSon flexing his culinary muscles in the kitchen he grew up in.  I was more than happy to clean up dishes in return for such a warm and delicious family meal.  

Better yet.....we have wonderful left overs!  

I hope however luxurious or well attended your holiday meal(s) are or have been, that you enjoyed the food, the company, and relished the understanding that a meal shared is always better than one eaten alone.  Having our merry troupe all together under one roof, gathered around one table?  That is as good as it gets and as good as it ever needs to be.  It may have not happened on the 25th but it made for a very Merry Christmas.  

And now?  Here's to that Happy New Year!


Flapjacks said...

i had nearly the same dinner... alone! well i shared it with my dad and his ladyfriend, but they didn't eat dinner with me...

yeah lamb shanks!

TexasDeb said...

Shared is shared - the timing is not the important part. Your Dad/his lady shared the love you have for the food which I am convinced always affects the results.

Thanks for the garden photos posted on your blog. That kind of sharing is also the real deal.

Happy days, Flapper!

PassivePastry said...

hooray for family meals!
no professional chefs cooking here, but our stummys have no complaints!

pam said...

What a wonderful meal! I love shared meals too, but I also like to eat alone and read, that's such a luxury!