Sunday, January 18, 2009

Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa C's

How wonderful to be with people you love, especially during the holidays. Grandma & Grandpa invited me to spend Christmas with them this year while the rest of the fam was knee deep in "life". So I got to sneak away for a wonderful 5 days of relaxation and shopping and playing. Does it get any better than that?

Short answer: No.

One of the things Gee Gee (aka Grandma C) excels at is making Christmas warm and bright. She always has! We had a lovely turkey dinner and opened cards and homemade presents from Aidan! We are so grateful to have such a loving family that is growing! (Jessica: YOU'RE DOIN IT RIGHT!!!) I get teared up when I remember our little group of 3 around the dinner table raising our glasses to toast the holiday and express our gratitude to get to be together for another Christmas. There's nothing like family! Grandma's Christmas tree is well, untraditional, but nonetheless, festive, and it was way more than was going on at my house, so I'll call it very "christmasy". There were gifts from Aidan and lovely cards that awaited opening on Christmas day (which actually turned out to be not exactly Christmas day (it's a long story), but we are an airline family, so there really is no such thing as "Christmas Day", it's "whatever works". HAHA.

We got to go see Bruce and Pat Benke, two of the coolest people on the planet, but this only stands to reason, because they have the DNA of THE coolest person of all: Bill Benke. (Bill, we miss you so.) Olive was there and was looking strong, which thrilled my heart, because it's been a bit of a tough row to hoe for her lately. It was so wonderful to see her in such good spirits. Bruce showed me a power point presentation (once an exec, always an exec) of a trip they made to the Holy Land and I of course, invited myself to go with them on their next trip. (I'm slowly learning social graces and protocols, but haven't really "arrived" in that dept yet. Sigh.) But anyway, the dinner Pat put on was Mexican and was GREAT. Here's the recipe. Be prepared to be WOWed.


Cook 1 large fryer. Bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. Soak 12 corn tortillas in boiling chicken stock until wilted (Don't leave too long as they'll fall apart.) Place layer of tortillas in a 9x12 baking dish. Layer chicken pieces over this. Then add in this order:
1 large chopped onion, sautéed if you want it softer (I don't)
½ lb. Grated cheddar cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
Sprinkle garlic salt
1 can diced green chilies
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Crush and pour 1 can tomatoes with green chilies on top. Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Serves 6"

Also, did you know that Grandma C is the best cook ever? In case you didn't realize this, the only reason I love to cook is because Grandma & Grandpa were my biggest cheerleaders when I was "experimenting" with cooking as a teenager. They threw all kinds of $$ into this (can you say, Time-Life auto renew Foods of the World Cookbook Set, I think I'm still getting those books every month, 35+ years later at $25 bucks a pop). Seriously though, what kind of parents would invite all of their friends over to be guinea pigs for their daughter's hopeful Chinese dinner (neither tried nor true). What risk takers! Anyway, did you know that Grandma C helped me peel 2,000 tiny black canned beans? This was because there were no "asian" grocery stores to buy specialty chinese "bean paste" in Boulder City Nevada in 1972. It was kinda "the sticks" back then. (Actually, I had no idea then what real "sticks" was. The entire state of Nebraska is what I could consider to be the ultimate "sticks". But I digress.) So it was a huge dinner party for G & Gs friends and I wore a silk kimono and was so exhausted from all the bean peeling I could barely enjoy the party. But the food was surprisingly good. I can't claim any sort of authenticity (with the exception of the kimono imported from one of my Dad's trips to Tokyo, but I have a recollection of it being different, unique and actually tasty! In other words a big success and I've loved cooking ever since. (I guess that makes me a recognition junkie?) I wish my memory would incude the actual menu! I just remember the "bean paste". HAHA.

So that leads me up to where I was originally going with this, and that is that we had such fantastic meals every day while I stayed at G&Gs. My favorite, shrimp curry, was, as usual, spectacular. For those not "in the loop" about the best dish ever invented, it is a milder, curried form of Pappadeaux's Shrimp Ettouffe. Heaven on a dish,to be honest. Here is a picture:

A close second is of course, Grandpa's Costco steaks: seared, medium-rare. OMG.

But the real jewel this year was the bar-b-qued turkey that Grandpa made on Grandpa's 27+ year old Sears Kenmore gas grill. A grill that is so crusted over with the remnants of a bazillion Christmas' past & dinner parties past, that it is barely recognizable. Of course it is the deep layered crusting that makes everything that comes out of it so INCREDIBLE. You can't buy this with all the money in the world. Although Grandma has already found one on eBay, and I'm seriously considering it, my hesitation is that I want G&G's crusties, not some strangers' crusties. (It's a family thing, amen?)

So here's a picture of the what will, I'm sure be handed down for generations:

And here's a picture of the master chef and THE Christmas BIRD. Wonderful.

We had a lovely dinner set on a lovely Christmas table and the holiday really was warm and bright!

Another fun thing we did was something called Skype. Skype is an internet program which makes video conferencing possible with people who live somewhere other than where you are, i.e., DALLAS. And because of this, we got to see Lanie, Joey & John, just for a few minutes, but oh, it was so precious. WE LOVE YOU SKYPE. We want more skyping with everyone. So clean up, put your shirts on and GET ONLINE!

Aother BIG DEAL was the shopping spree that those present at holiday time get to partake of when they visit Grandpa. It is a tradition. (And a wonderful one I might add). This year's trip was to Fry's (in year's past it has been to Crate & Barrel, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Chipperfield's Sears in Wahoo, Hinky Dinky, and I could go on and on and on and on.) We hauled away quite a bundle of electronic "toys".

The reason you don't see us in the above picture is because we are inside doing some serious damage to Grandpa's checking account!

Also, while I was G&G's guest, I got to stay in the "apartment", which is a 5 star suite for VIPS only. I was so very comfy. (I was not permitted to pee however. Well, actually, I was, but only briefly, 'cause it would be using up precious black water area for Quartzsite. After so much Reisling, of course, I simply could not comply with this rule. The outcome of this indiscretion was that Grandpa had to do an extra dump and fill at Quartzsite. Sorry Grandpa! But I really couldn't help it.) When it was time to "tuck in" each night I would open up the Truth for Life website and drift off to the incredible teaching of Allister Begg. One of the nights I literally sobbed till I couldn't breathe, his preaching was so powerful. Wireless internet is a WONDERFUL thing. It was the first time I had online access in the motorhome, and everybody that knows me knows that the internet is BIG in my life! So now I have this plush warm private apartment, the best preacher in the known universe, a full tummy, a pleasant Reiling buzz and the prospect of repeating it all again tomorrow. Oh my gosh, it was heaven on earth. No work, no worry, no stress. Just play.

Can I come again next year? (After revealing the details about Christmas at G&Gs there may be a mob next year!).

Love you guys,
Next post QUARTZSITE (probably in June at this rate!).


Jessica said...

Wow, this is your best post EVER! I love it! And I love my family!

Mom & Dad said...

Your Blog was amazing and brought back so many memories. The pictures were an added bonus. Dad asked if you are still getting those cookbooks every month, and that you must have quite a stack of them by now. I laughed and told him you said that in jest. There were places where my eyes were dripping. I'm sure both girls will enjoy reading it, too. Thank you so very much!!!!. We love you.

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