Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Easter Chicken

I had company over for dinner last night. People that I like very much, and wanted to impress.

Fire in the fireplace
Candles all over the place, lit and glowing
Christmas tree up and decked to the nines
Holiday decor on everything that doesn't move
In every room
Festive red table cloth on table
Golden flatware laid out (more on this in a minute)
Table set with every dish possible
Several appetizers laid out
Meal in oven, set to finish when company arrived
Christmas music playing
Snow falling outside... (this wasn't my doing, but it was a lovely touch)

Now. Let's backtrack a little bit, so that you can get the whole picture.
Scarlett is not a fabulous cook.
Far from it.

So I called Cecilia who is a fabulous cook. She walked me through a recipe over the phone, it went like this:

C: lay the chicken breasts flat in a well greased pan
S: okay
C: spoon the bread/nut/olive oil mixture over half of each breast
S: okay
C: fold the breast over and skewer it closed
S: uh....
C: no... wait, let's keep this simple, nevermind that, just spoon it over the chicken
S: okay...

....at this point, I sniff in stubbornness and look down my nose and think to myself, I can do that. I have bamboo skewers, God knows why, but I do. How hard can it be to skewer chicken shut. Closed. Whatever.

I prepare the chicken later on... to begin, I pull the -foot long and then some- bamboo skewers out and look from them to the shallow baking pan and think... um... these are too long.

I can break this bamboo into short little pieces and have splinters in the chicken and probably my fingers or... hmm... TOOTHPICKS! I can use toothpicks... they are short skewers! I was quite pleased with myself, I thought I was very clever for thinking of this.

Necessity is the mother of invention, no?

I baked the chicken and was on the phone with another friend who was walking me through "what the heck order does the flatware go in on the table... forks here.. no there... and OH NO I forgot to take the chicken out of the oven," my friend is laughing at me, she says "it's only been 10 minutes more, just baste it, it will be ok."

I pull the chicken out and gasp - NO! - and panic and start whimpering near tears... 'what?' she says... 'what's wrong with it?'

The toothpicks I used were colored toothpicks... their color bled into the chicken, so I had blue... green... red... yellow... pink... and turquoise holes in the chicken. Easter egg chicken.

And of course, my company was expected 15 minutes from then. My friend on the phone just roared laughing at me. She said, Scarlett... that's edible food coloring, it has to be because people put toothpicks in their mouths and food... it's ok. Just explain the chicken to your company.

So... it was ok. My company laughed and ate it all and no one died that I know of yet.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Birthday!

To a man who had such an eventful life... and who is 613 years old today.

James' life was in danger at a very young age, so his father sent him from Scotland to France for safety, but during this escape, he was seized by the English and was held as a prisoner by them for 18 years. When his father heard of his sons capture, he died of a broken heart.

After his long imprisonment in England, James' countrymen finally paid a kings ransom for his release and he was able to return to his home country. He brought with him his wife, Joan Beaufort, a cousin of King Henry VI.
At long last, he was crowned King of Scotland and thus began one of the most significant reigns of royalty that Scotland had seen since his great-grandfather, Robert the Bruce, had ruled. James and Joan had eight children together, but sadly only seven survived.
Once he'd reclaimed the throne, he found that his work was cut out for him; Scotland had fallen apart during his absence. This king had to fight to unite his kingdom, and once that was done, he was determined to make his country one of the most powerful in Europe. James made many changes to the Scottish economic system and to their government. In many ways, he advanced the nation much further than it had ever grown in such a short time, and while this was good for the country, it was not appreciated by all.
King James was killed by his own relatives in a power move that ended their lives as well as his; rumor has it that he was stabbed 28 times. His children and grandchildren kept the throne of Scotland, but I don't believe that another Scottish King did as much for his country until the reign of King James the VI of Scotland who was also King James the I of England (son of Mary, Queen of Scots).
And so it is to the memory of this great man, in honor of his strength, courage, endurance, determination, and his devout loyalty to his people and his country that I bow in respect and celebrate the day that he was brought into this world. King James I of Scotland, your life made a great difference in your time and it's ripple effects are still moving today.
To my 15th great-grandfather, Happy Birthday, the strength of your legacy lives on.

King James I of Scotland

Sunday, December 9, 2007

These are 12 of My Favorite Things

A Christmas Meme!

I am originating it, it is my gift to all of those who have gifted me with so many fun memes all year.

Thank you.

Please share 12 of your favorite Christmas things: they can be memories, traditions, songs, presents, beliefs, whatever it is about this season that you love.
Send it to 12 people, and be sure to link to them so that everyone can enjoy the many variations!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

1. The reason for the season ~ the birth of Jesus! I love the story of the Nativity.

2. All the kindness, compassion, love, good cheer, and magic that is tangible among people during this season. I wish it lasted every day of the year.

3. Drawing nearer to and spending time with family & friends, that closeness is precious.

4. I *LOVE* Christmas decorations, movies (don't you just love Charlie Brown and Rudolph?) and definitely the music; singing and playing it everywhere!

5. There must be snow at Christmas. Snow angels, snow people, snowballs, sledding, ice skating...

6. I love the way Christmas smells ~ pine, cider, baked delights (cookies, pies, ham), cinnamon, clove oranges, cranberry...

7. Driving around looking at Christmas lights, going to Zoolights at the zoo and Blossoms of Lights at the Botanic Gardens with loved ones, drinking cocoa, singing Christmas songs and playing in the snow! I also love watching the lights on the tree; used to fall asleep under it when I was a very small Scarlett. Oh wait! I still do that!

8. The candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve - the best part of which, is singing Silent Night by candlelight, and everyone gets their own candle (which adds an immeasurable element of danger to the soft and tranquil solemnities...) I always shed a few tears at this service.

9. The wide eyed wonder of children during the whole month; especially when they get to tell Santa what they want for Christmas... (You'll shoot your eye out kid!)

10. Dressing up in our best to go out for a special evening of dinner, a carriage ride and then to see a professional ballet company perform The Nutcracker Suite; something we never miss and always enjoy!

11. The solemn beauty and blissful thrill of Christmas Eve, there is no other night of the year that is filled with more magic, possibility, love or excitement for me than this one night.

12. The bright, welcoming, wide open opportunity of Christmas morning/day - for me it is the culmination of all the wonders of the month preceding it, and it is a spiritual renewal... for Christ our Saviour has been born... rejoice, rejoice Emmanuel.

Christmas Tags:

1. Absolute Vanilla ~ who constantly remembers me on her tag list...

2. Sognatrice at Bleeding Espresso ~ for whom a candle is lit, and with whom I am very pleased to share my tree (see above)

3. Seamus the Shameless Lion Tamer ~ I can't wait to hear his Christmas thoughts!

4. Jon at Writing in a Vacuum ~ Christmas in England...

5. Christina at Single City Chick ~ I know there will be good stories here!

6. Rebecca at Cre8Tiva ~ A very lovely and creative Christmas...

7. Caroline Smailes ~ How does such a creative and busy woman handle the holiday?

8. Heart in SF at Guilty With an Explanation ~ A blend of Christmas and Hanukkah?

9. Dee at the Mundane and the Profound ~ She'll cook up quite a masterpiece, I am sure!

10. Jules at Thinking About ~ This will be a thoughtful and humorous ride...

11. Some Pink Flowers ~ Ahhhh... Christmas in Florida!

12. Jeni at Passionate Palate ~ Presto! A sweet and rich offering we'll all enjoy

If anyone else would like to play along, please join in! Just let me know and I will add a link to your page so that everyone can come by for a visit!

Don't forget the mistletoe!


Scarlett & Viaggiatore