Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Cheer

I have had the prime rib aging in the fridge since we bought it Sunday. It makes the meat so much more tender when aged and most stores do not do this anymore. One it takes a lot of refriegrator room hanging the meat to age and it is also shrinks the meat so less profit. Also makes the meat much more expensive for the extra time they take to do it. Learned this tip from friends Kathy and Bob.

Filled bags from the day after Christmas sale. I need to go through everything, log them and box them away for next year.

How cute is this? Cork animal ornaments. A project for me this year using our saved wine and champagne corks. I saw this in the Sac Bee.

I am the archivist and co-owner of a private foodie group on the Internet. In appreication for my archivist duties they sent me this wonderul art book and music CD knowing my love of Native American art, music and history. I have so enjoyed reading this book and admiring the art work from cover to cover and listening to the contmeorary Native American music while I did.

Let's Talk Bubbly

Anyone who personally knows me, and those of you who know me through my blog know that I love bubbly all year round. Prosecco is one of my very favorites. So with New Year's Eve just a day away, here are some tips, facts and gloassary terms as related to sparkling wine.

Blanc de blancs: Sparking wine made from chardonnay grapes.

Blanc de noirs: Sparkling wine made form red grapes, typically pinot noir and pinot meunier.

Chill Out: To get a room temperature bottle to the proper level of cool, fill a bucket half full with ice cubes and the other half with ice-cold water; submerge your bottle in this cold bath for 20 to 30 minutes. You can also run cold water on bottom of bottle and place in freezer.

Rose: A champagne with pinot noir added to the base blend, giving the wine various shades of pink color.

Serving Temperature: 40 to 45 degrees F for non-vintage bottles, 50 degrees for vintage champagne and other prestigious bottles.

Food Pairings: Okay, the experts always say serve sparkling wine with oysters, lobster, mild cheeses, ham (for Rose champagnes), spicy Asian food, dishes with mushrooms and caviar. Salty snacks like popcorn and potato chiops also work. Personally, I like champagne with just about everything.

Stemware: Use a proper wine flute, which will show off the sparkler's fizzy nature. In a pinch, you can use a Bordeaux glass. The distribution of bubbles own;t be n display, but the bouquet will be captured properly. Stemware used for pinot noir/Burgundy, however, is too bulbous. Fill each flute two-thirds of the way with sparkling wine.

Sweetness Levels From Driest to Sweetest: Extra brut, brut, extra dry, sec, demi-sec, doux.

Vintage Champagne: Champagne for which at least 85 percent of its grapes come from a particular year. Non-vintage Champagne blends multiple years in a single bottle. Unlike most wines, non-vintage Champagne can be better than its vintage counterpart.
Sources: "The Wine Bible," "Exploring Wine," "Wine for Dummies."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Getting Ready For New Year's Eve

We are hosting our dinner group on New Year's Eve. Everyone brings something. This is our menu:

Appetizer Course (at the table): Tandoori Shrimp with Pineapple Chutney (Barbara is making these)

Soup Course: Butternut Squash (Barbara is making this too)

Salad Course: Averill and Bob. They haven't mentioned what type salad they are making

Main Course: Prime Rib (us), baked potatoes (us), vegetable gratin or casserole (Paulette, not mentioned exactly what)

Dessert: Verona and Bill - has not mentioned what they are making

I decorated the table and did the place settings this afternoon. I kept changing my mind about the place settings. Above is the first one I did.

This is the second one. I liked the red glass salad plate but not with the blue tablecloth. Unfortunately my black cloth is too short for the table with both leaves in it. If I could have used it I would have most likely stuck with this setting.

The third setting I did. I switched out the red glass salad plates for clear ones. I liked it but wanted something more.

My last setting and the one I am going with. Hand painted and gold trimmed antique salad size plates. On top of that cut glass plates for the appetizer that were my Nana's. I really like the textures and added sparkle they bring to the table as a whole. The dinner plate is my gold trimmed Lenox china and under that a gold charger. All the courses will be plated in the kitchen, so I did not add the soup bowl to the setting but will just bring them out filled when the time comes.

The table centerpiece. A black glitter top hat upside down filled with shimmering streamers, horns and other New Year's Eve type things. It is all surrounded by noise makers.

I sprinkled New Year's Eve confetti in the center length of the table and randomly placed fake colored jewels as other accents. All the jewels, shimmering streamers and crystal sparkle in the light. That's a large red votive holder that has gold inside with bling of it's own adorning it.

The champagne glasses at each place setting are filled with either a gold or silver plastic New Year's Eve necklace and part of them hang out of the glass adding more sparkle.

I wrote a each of our names on horns that areblack, gold and white and used them as place cards, placed on top of the black napkins on each place setting.

I did a little decorating in the guest bath downstairs by putting out a few New Year's things in white, black, gold and silver. The towels are a mixture of black and white, and the black hand towel has a gold trim design.


The new computer keyboard is from John, Jen, Jus and Jake. (I do not know why this picture insists on being sideways even though it isn't in my computer photo program.) John used my computer last time they were here and was amazed I was still using it when half the letters had worn off the keys. I think it was all those years of using acrylic on my nails and typing with my nails instead of finger tips. I love that there are multimedia keys and application hot keys on the keyboard. My old one didn't have them.

Debra and Ron gave me this wonderful pottery bowl with a grater in the bottom of it. (On the lines of a Japanese suribachi bowl and pestle.) You grate fresh garlic in the bottom, then add oil and vinegar and use the mini whisk to emulsify your vinaigrette. I love it.

We received this pottery grater from Cathy and Dom along with beautiful lace table linens. You can grate fresh ginger into a paste, or garlic all by rubbing against the plate. You can also grate whole spices such as nutmeg. I love this too!

A beautiful wine stopper from Fran.

John's parents gave us a gift bag full of food goodies; dip mixes, marinade, chocolate and truffles.

Bob and Kathy sent us a box of fresh pears from Harry and David. Beautiful. AND we just received a note from H&D to let us know we will also be receiving 3 more shipments of fresh fruits in 2009! Thank you so much you two - a gift that keeps on giving. We are enjoying it so much!

These cat ornaments for the Christmas trees are just too adorable. They were given to us by Rob, Erin. Steven and Mackenzie. Each of them reminds us of our four cats and make us smile.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Day After Christmas Holiday Sale

Jen, Jacob and I headed out to Reno Friday morning to hit the after Christmas sales. First stop was Macy's.

Jacob all bundled up against to Mommy. It was 0 degrees when we left the house. Thank goodness Reno is a little warmer than Truckee. It was 18 degrees when we got there.

After shopping Macy's and Home Goods, we went to The Olive Garden for salad, pasta and a glass of wine. Jacob loved the bread sticks, especially if I dipped them in my 5 cheese marinara sauce. We had a blast together as usual and Jacob didn't fuss once. He's a good shopper. After we returned to Truckee, Grandad and I loaded the van and we headed home. Getting out of the neighbourhood streets was a bit tricky since they are not plowed as well as the highways. Needless to say was we got on the freeway it was an easy but slowish drive. The cats were sure glad to see us when we came in the door!

Jen's Holiday Table

The lace runner was given to David and I for Christmas by long-time friends Cathy and Dom. It made our table very special. Thank you!

Jen prepared a whole roasted smoked ham, scored on top, studded with whole cloves, and topped with pineapple slices and maraschino cherries, just like my Mom made it when Ron and I were growing up. It was delicious! I never did get a picture of it, but Jen did before it went into the oven. I am sure it will appear on her blog soon if it hasn't already.

Santa Claus Came to Town!

Santa ate all his cookies and the reindeer did a good job on the carrots.

Jacob received a bopunce bounce type thing but he can walk in it. He was doing well trying to figure out how it works.

Justin received the skate board he asked for.

A water elmo for the bath tub.

Dockers and mathing shirt for Justin. He likes to dress nice this boy. We love it!

Sing and hum Elmo. Okay, so Gram-Gram and Grandad went crazy with the Elmo's. Jacob loves them though, expecially the kiss me Elmo. He even slept with it which he has never slept with anything before.

This Christmas ribbon is fun to play with.

A warm wool short for John.

Wii MarioKart for Jus. He was excited.

All the controls for the Wii; a tennis racket, steering wheel, golf club, baseball bat........

The clean-up crew.

Grandad, a well-seasoned light engineer.

Jacobs toys....

We recieved this from Mom Rose, Fran, Sue and Beth. How unique and fun is this? We love it! It was a joyous holiday. I hope the same for you.

I'm Dreaming of A White Christmas

We woke up Christmas morning to find it had snowed a good 14 inches during the night......

I am sure glad this isn't my job everyday!

Our van was snowed in. We drove home the next afternoon and the last piece of ice, except for a soft ball size piece, fell off a few blocks from our house.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve Moments

During the day we had a variety of appetizers to nosh on. John made his famous guac live.

The tradition in the Hoekman home is that all gifts are opened on Cristmas morning. However, Justin and Jacob can open 1 gift on Christmas Eve of their choice. That is unless the gift giver says they have to wait to open it on Chrisdtams Day andf then they choose another. Jus picked the biggest gift with his name on it. (Of course!)

It was a 6' x 3' framed picture of him winning the IKF race this year to hang in his room in the new house.

Gram-Gram picked what Jacob opened. Grandad and I got him a talking Elmo who loves to throw kisses as well.

He loves Elmo so we were all excited to see how he would react.

He loves it and even took a nap with him this morning. Jacob kisses Elmo back. It is just too sweet. We all went to bed early. The week of fun had caught up with everyone.