Sunday, December 25, 2011

A perfectly ducky Christmas

We had our big homemade Christmas feast yesterday…a nice roasted duck (crispy-skinned thanks to a ‘low and slow’ afternoon in the oven), a potato gallatte (which I believe is French for “falls apart when you try to transfer to a serving platter” – but was delicious nonetheless), roasted Brussels sprouts with a balsamic syrup and dried cranberries, tart cranberry sauce, and a mincemeat pie (homemade crust and a heavily doctored-up bottle of Irish mincemeat from the grocery store).

Here’s the recipe for the Brussels sprouts, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.

3 pounds Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup olive oil
salt And pepper
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dried cranberries

  1. Trim/clean Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half if desired (or you can leave them whole). Arrange on two baking sheets and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and roast at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown.
  2. Combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and reduce until very thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the roasted sprouts, then sprinkle on dried cranberries. Toss and serve immediately.
After dinner, it was time for a quick shower and a meet-up with our friend Marcia (a self-proclaimed “little Jewish girl with no plans for Christmas eve”) at Taj, formerly known as the Ritz-Carlton. Located right across the street from Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States, the Taj was beautifully decorated for the holidays, and the main bar was surprisingly full, considering it was Christmas Eve. After a round (or two) of cocktails, we walked two blocks to the Arlington Street Church, for its Unitarian Universalist Christmas Eve service.

I’m pleased to report that I was not struck down by lightning as I crossed the threshold into the church – you might say it’s been a while since I found myself in a house of worship. The service was lovely and was highlighted by a spirited sermon by Reverend Kim Crawford Harvie, all about finding the joy and miracles that happen around us every day, and by several performances by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, including a rousing take on Katy Perry’s “Firework”.

This morning, we slept late (any time after 6:30 am is “late” for us), had a delicious breakfast with lots of hot cups of coffee, read the Boston Sunday Globe, and then opened a few presents. Peter got me a DVD of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”, a sweet holiday movie based on a story by Dylan Thomas of a grandfather sharing his favorite Christmas memories with his grandson. He also gave me the “James Taylor at Christmas” CD, which I love. Check out his take on “River”, a hauntingly beautiful rendition of a Joni Mitchell song from the early 1970s.

We then took a nap and later visited to Castle Island so Otis could work off some of his Christmas energy by chasing a tennis ball. In pursuit of one wayward toss, Otis ran smack into an elderly gentleman on the paved walkway, knocking him down to his knees. He was surprised, luckily unhurt, and extremely gracious.

We ended the holiday at our friends Julie and Tom’s home with lots of good food, drink, and sweets, and caught up with their families, including Julie’s mom, who we hadn’t seen in three years.

And that, folks, is what I did on my Christmas vacation. 


  1. The James Taylor album is one of my favorites. As are the sprouts. You can keep the duck.

  2. Looks delicious! I love sprouts. And duck.

  3. You tried to take out an old man on xmas? for shame. :)

  4. That picture of the roasted duck is mouthwatering. Sounds like you had a lovely Christmas.

    Merry Merry



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