Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We were blessed with so much this Christmas. Dad has always called presents prizes. These are a few of the prizes we received this Christmas. 

Best prize ever! This precious creature!

Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys

E. knows me so well and gave me this beautiful book written by the chef from Chez Panisse. The quick few pages I've read makes me know I will spend lots of time with this harvest of words and recipes! He also wrote A Platter of Figs.

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto

E. also gave me this treasure. Last year I had a very Julia Christmas. I think it is what inspired me to write this blog. The movie, Julia Child's My Life in France and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol.1 and 2 were all great gifts last year. I loved watching Julia Child with my mother as a child and called her Junior Child. I think it was a mixture of Junior League and Julia Child.

Glee: The Music, Volume 1

E. was a big sweetheart giving me this CD. I sang all ten hours on the drive home! My niece Ali predicted this would happen, and indeed it did.

Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy)

Daddy gave me this book. He warned there were some racy parts. 

The Best of Gourmet: 1989 Edition

The Best of Gourmet 1990 Edition

The Best of Gourmet 1991 Edition

Mom hooked us up with these fabulous treasures! I have a cookbook collection and these are such a great addition; The Best of Gourmet 1989, 1990 and 1991 editions.

We drove home on Christmas day and were so happy to see the tree still in good shape.

I managed to sneak a few Sweet Spot cookies for Stone Hill.

My hand blown ornament is my favorite on the tree this year. And I found the touch plate ornament on Amazon!!! You can purchase it here by clicking the photo below.

Westek 6043C 200W 3-Level Holiday Ornament Touch Dimmer, Brass/Black

Susan and Lucy sent us the most incredible foodie gift basket from Brooklyn! We were floored by the coffee and chocolate granola from Granola Lab. Oh my gosh it was delicious. There were killer pretzels, sour puss pickles and salsa also in the mix. I love getting fun food items for Christmas since we really don't need anything.

Mom also gave me an original Tayloe and this fabulous coffee table! I gave E. some Charlie glasses from Williams-Sonoma. He always gives me the sweetest card on Christmas day. I have them all saved!

Santa gave us fun stuff in our stockings too. We even got to bring them home to Stone Hill!!!

The Avery's gave us our favorite White House Christmas ornament!  I look forward to this little box every year. 

Momma made her traditional Princeton Rocks. Next year I have to share the recipe. They are outstanding with nuts and dates. She also generously gave us her ham bone! I may be the only person who gets excited to get a ham bone for Christmas. But it was great to drive home and make red beans and rice. If you have one, this is a very easy recipe and great to make for a fast and easy winter dinner.

You need a bag of dry red beans.

Cover the beans with water with a few inches over. Soak overnight.

Use a very meaty ham bone. I chopped up the left over ham for a little extra.

Cover with water and boil.

Cook down until it reduces by half. I usually cook for the whole day or at a minimum four hours. If it cooks too fast, add more water and continue to cook down until you have a dark broth. Leave on the stove, turned off overnight and cover.

The next morning the fat will rise and you can skim it off easily. Fish out the ham bone and discard.

The beans will magically double in size.

Rinse the beans and add to your fat free pot. Cook for another two to three hours until it reduces by half. 

The first time I ever had homemade red beans and rice was with my sweet friend Kimberly. We had just bought Stone Hill and I was still working in DC. E. was stuck in a cold stone house exactly this week three years ago. We had major pluming issues due to a drought and a tree root chomping down on the old terra cotta pipes. I was sleeping on our blow up mattress in an empty and frozen apartment, loving called The Nook. Well the Nook was anything but comfortable so I called my sweet friend to request a sleep over. She and Graham were life savers! And she pulled out this incredible red beans and rice dinner in the time it took to cook the rice. I've changed the recipe a ton since that first recipe exchange but this is the gist.

Once the bean and ham mixture has reduced add the following:
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of pepper
1 tablespoon of green Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
3 yellow onions, chopped
You can also use fresh parsley, a cup, if you have it.
Fresh Thyme, two sprigs, leaves only

Mix all the ingredients together and simmer on low for another two-four hours. E. can not stand when I make this meal because the house smells so good and he wants to eat it immediately. Take the time to slow cook it. It makes all the difference. Freeze in small batches and then use throughout the winter. We serve over white rice. E. adds more Tabasco to taste.

Thanks to everyone for our fabulous gifts. I look forward to writing thank you notes every year. Kimberly, thank you again for taking such good care of me all those years ago and for your delicious red beans and rice recipe! Most importantly we were blessed with time to be together for a few days, strung together, without work interruptions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely Nelle! My grandmother was from the south and every dish started with a "Ham Hock"! Her string beens cooked all day with a ham bone in the pot. I couldn't stand them as a child, but I would kill to have my Nan in the kitchen coooking them fro me now :)