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Ho ho ho … ho ho … oh boy … ho … (ahem).

Ho ho ho … ho ho … oh boy … ho … (ahem).


You ever leave a turkey out to thaw and then forget to put it back in the fridge overnight and then the next day you wake up and realise your mistake and have to run to the grocery store at nine in the morning with the hopes that they are open and still have turkeys for sale on Christmas morning?


This was our first real Christmas as parents and we found ourselves really appreciating all of the work our parents put into our Christmases growing up.  (Spoiler Alert: Those presents don’t just appear by themselves.)  We put together our first real kid’s toy (a life-size dollhouse that Caia can actually enter, complete with a stove and oven where she can entertain her guests with tea and other treats … that she makes …), and we spent the evening listening to Christmas music, sharing a couple of glasses of wine, reminiscing about our childhoods.

Then we went to bed and I forgot to put the now thawed turkey back in the fridge so that I wouldn’t turn into a bag of sick by morning.  Yep.  Opening that little present the next morning was little mythological.  I swear the souls of all turkeys past flew out of that thing when I pierced the bag the next morning.

But, other than me being a forgetful idiot on Christmas Eve, things went very well.  I got to spend the entire day in the kitchen, which was awesome, and we had a feast generally reserved for the end of Dr. Seuss stories.


On the Menu: Sautéed Yellow Bell Peppers with Roma Tomatoes in a Basil-Infused Olive Oil and Balsamic Reduction Dressing, Turkey (Duh), Nutmeg Raisin Stuffing, Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Vegetables with Squash, Carrots, Asian Pears (LOOK UP), and Onions, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Apple Pie à la mode, Sugar Pie

Yeah, that’s right: Sugar Pie, bitches.  As Canadian as … all right, I’d never heard of it, either, but it is very popular in Eastern Canada and most of us liked it fine.  (It’s pie made from sugar.  You do the math.)

The turkey was an event.  As mentioned already, I left the first turkey out overnight.  (Being Santa is hard!)  Rushing to the local grocery store only to wait for forty-five minutes for it to open so that I could buy a replacement … like a Norma Rockwell painting, isn’t it?

(You have no idea how guilty I felt!  Here it is Christmas, and I’m throwing out a whole Turkey before we’ve even had a chance to reflect on our blessings. I felt sick.)


Once the turkey was in the oven, it was autopilot from that point on.  Here’s how I do it, and two years in a row, success.  Also?  As a bonus?  It’s probably the easiest way to cook a bird without running the risk of it being dry.  Promise.  I’ll bet you a whole turkey that if you do it this way … sorry.

Turn the oven up full blast.  As high as it will go.  Place the bird in a roasting tray and drizzle it with olive oil.  Dust it with nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, salt, pepper, and half-a-cup of brown sugar.  Cut a white onion into quarters and toss it around the bird.  Break one stick of cinnamon and sprinkle the shards around the tray.  Scatter six or seven cloves.  Toss in five or six stars anise.  Pour a whole beer into the tray with bird and all.  (NB: it works better with a stouter beer, like a porter, or Guinness.  If you are feeling particularly festive, you might want to use a chocolate beer or a Christmas ale … the more flavour, the better the result.)

Put the lid on the roasting tray and place in oven for twenty minutes.  Then turn the temperature down to 180 degrees Celsius for about forty-five minutes per kilogram.  Every hour, take the tray out and coat the turkey in the juice.

If you calculated right, you should be left with about an inch of liquid which makes a perfect base for your gravy.  The meat should be shrinking away from the legs.

(For recipes for the sides, just email us and we’ll happily provide them.  You don’t have to wait for next year to try them out!  They’re always crowd-pleasers!)

Another thing?  Having a big kitchen rocks!  There was room enough for Megan, Joseph (Cara and Rene’s father), and me to work and allow guests to get to the fridge and pantry without bumping into us!  This Christmas, there were only two stabbings at our house!  Two!

In all the running around of the week and moving and junk, Megan and I forgot (didn’t bother) to buy a wine we hadn’t tried before.  Luckily for us, our good friend Michael showed up with bottle in hand of another fantastic Canadian red.

Wine: Painted Rock, Estate Grown, Syrah, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA, Canada, 2008, $39.95 CAD

Rating: Three Bottles

This was the absolutely best wine anyone could have picked for Christmas dinner.  Very fruity and very amazing, this wine complimented all of the flavours on our table.  It was so pleasant – each sip took on a different character.  The bouquet enchanted you with it’s BC flavours – cedar, sea salt, and earthy tones played underneath the anise, fennel, and cinnamon notes.  Black cherry and dark plums backed up the muskier flavours, making this a very complex, very enjoyable wine.

Our only regret was that Michael only brought one bottle.

And so we finished our evening happy, replete, and thankful.

And that is the point of Christmas dinner, of holiday dinners, in general – to bring people together, to end the story on a high note, to leave everyone with that “feel good” feeling.  We sit around the table, smiling as we eat, share stories, make toasts, drink, love, and laugh.

And so we wrap up our Christmas with a hope that yours was as amazing as ours and that your families were as blessed as ours.




Christmas Eve

So …

We are sitting with kith and kin on this Eve of all eves, waiting for the Big Guy to bring us lovely baubles and praying to all that is holy that tomorrow`s turkey and trimmings work out the way we hope they will.  Everyone is well into their libations at this point, I`ve already had a mild panic attack for some reason, and Megan and I are debating opening a really cheap (yet untried) bottle of red.  We´re kind of avoiding it, to be honest.

Joseph, Cara and Rene`s dad, took care of dinner, as he always does on Christmas Eve, which included Chicken Schnitzel, Potato Salad, and Crudités with a spicy dipping sauce.  He does this every year in keeping with his Czech heritage.  Apparently, Czechs like Schnitzel and potato salad on Christmas Eve.  And spicy dipping sauce.  (And slivovitz, if we`re being honest.)

We have plenty of Yarrunga on hand, since it has become our favourite wine, and we are now sitting in the library/den drinking a really expensive scotch (thank you, James).  The baby is running around with a tea light that runs on batteries.  She is also terrorizing the dogs.  The Dachshund (Basil) is bearing up nicely.  The retriever (Lebowski) is enjoying the toddler-leavings as she takes a bite of a cookie … and drops it on the floor; takes a bite of celery … and drops it on the floor; takes a bite of …

The “cheer” has started to make me feel somewhat sentimental and philosophical and I am debating whether to contemplate, in writing, the blessings we have all received.  There is a part of me that would like to ruminate on the fortune that has been bestowed on us, being all together, and being so healthy, and so happy, compared to so many.

But that would involve some kind of a soap box and some kind of “did I really post that last night” on my part, and I don`t really want to deal with that, tomorrow, while mashing potatoes and checking turkeys and slicing squash … es … (Squash?  Squashes?)

Instead, I will leave you all with the sincere wish that you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by loved ones, and blessed enough to be so healthy.

May your turkeys all turn out great, may your potatoes be well-smashed, and may your cups runneth over.

Until tomorrow,


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

The palm trees are bearing fruit, the macaws are squawking in the jungle, and there is a smell of the ocean on the breeze.

Oh, and tacky crap is hanging in stores from every possible window, shelf, wall, and precipice.

In our house, we are slowly shaping it up to look half-way presentable for the Big Guy.  The girls – Cara, Caia, and Megan – decorated the tree (that we bought on Sunday morning … a week before Christmas … in the Caribbean … for $7.25 … Charlie Brown, anyone?) while Rene and I chatted with Rene’s parents after a meal prepared by yours truly.

And I only lost my cool once.

(Okay: twice.  Toddlers and gas ranges make me edgy, what can I say?  Plus the dogs are running around, bumping into everyone, trying to get at the chicken … And Megan made the cookies.  Shut up.)

On the menu: Roasted Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and Tomatoes with a Honey Cinnamon Glaze, Asparagus in a White Wine Butter Sauce, White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies with Lemon Icing

This was a dry run for Christmas dinner.  Since we have a larger kitchen, it was decided (by Megan and I) that for everyone’s sanity (and safety, lest our knives find your legs and biceps for traipsing through our kitchen yet again to ask if you can help when all we’ve asked if for you to not walk into the kitchen!  Seriously!  It’s like, ten hours of cooking!  Get the fuck out of here!) Christmas dinner would be prepared at our house this year.  So, I made the chicken as if it were a magnificent bird deserving of only the tenderest of care.

The chicken was dusted with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and stuffed with cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  Potatoes lined the roasting tray and it was in the oven at 200 degrees for about two hours.

The potatoes and tomatoes were given the same treatment but with a drizzle of honey and a about five knobs of butter thrown in to soften the acidity of the tomatoes.

In hindsight, the white we chose this week would have gone better with dinner, but we were really excited about the red, so we started with that instead.

Wine: Don Manuel Viallasañe, Keltehue, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2011, (Price Unknown)
Rating: One Bottle

Blueberries and cloves play on the palette in this wine (with a really classy label).  We hung onto this bottle for a couple of weeks (which is why we cannot remember the price) because the label told us it was going to taste great.  It was okay.  Kind of forgettable, really.

With some time and some air, this wine came around.  Also, the subtler flavours of blueberries and cloves complimented the fare nicely, so all was not lost.  We just weren’t that taken with it, is all.

We took a breather and decorated the tree and talked about the coming week and what a crazy couple of months it’s been and how nobody has really started their Christmas shopping yet and how nobody really wants anything this year anyway, and it’s really just about Caia and what presents we all get for her, but seriously, everybody needs something to open Christmas morning, so it was basically a lot of posturing by everyone because who isn’t going to buy anybody nothing at all anyway?  Then, the baby in bed, and the night winding down, we opened the second bottle and sat outside and planned for the holiday feasts coming.

Wine: Graffigna, Centenario, Pinot Grigio, Reserve, San Juan, Argentina, 2010, $179 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

This was a lovely little Grigio and highly recommended by us for anyone who likes this varietal.  Chewy and very fruity, it carries itself well, staying away from the more citrusy Pinot Grigios we’ve tried in the paste, and instead favouring mango and peachy flavours.  The sweetness is tempered nicely with a tangy finish that leaves your mouth feeling zingy and not cloudy, as some sweet wines do.

Even though we may have enjoyed the Malbec from earlier more had we switched up the order of the two, sitting outside with the warm breeze and the night sounds, this wine fit the mood perfectly.

This next week is going to be a bit chaotic and we probably won’t get away with just one post, so look out for a few days of Christmas posts coming your way this weekend.

Also, I have three days off this week, which is almost unheard of, so there will be more time for us in the kitchen.

Until then,


New Pots!

So, I guess I’m psychic.  Last week, I sent out an email update with a subject line that read: “New Pots!”  I got some really helpful emails from some of our readers, too.  (I’m being sarcastic.  You all suck.)

This week, I was to make risotto.  I like risotto.  It’s delicious.  It’s like savoury rice pudding.  It makes me happy to eat it.  But there is a good lesson to be learned, and that is this: if you buy cheap pots, your risotto will burn and you will get mad at your garbage can and you will kick it.  (Which, incidentally, is the name of a sitcom I am working on.)

So, my starchy bonanza was a bust.  I did get dubbed “King of the Cream Sauce” (which, incidentally, is the name of a male oriented movie I’m … and so on, and so on …).

So, I threw out that damn pot, and yes, I did mutter “Out, damn’d pot! out, I say!” maniacally to myself.

On the Menu: Chicken Spaghetti in a Tomato and White Wine Cream Sauce, No Risotto with Dill and Tomato

Megan and Rene pulled twelve hour days again this week and Cara was hard at work at her new job, learning the ropes, hauling tours, and just being awesome in general.  This Sunday, though, Megan and I would have the whole day to leisurely cook, sip wine, and make fools of ourselves.  And we needed it.  It’s been a long couple of weeks and we were really looking forward to a grownup day.  I hired the nanny so Caia would be looked after.  It was all planned out.

Then she got a call from a friend that his mom had fallen at a resort here in Playa and had broken her arm, shattered her wrist, and dislocated her elbow.  She needed surgery.  She was travelling alone.  Could Megan go sit with her when in the Recovery Room.  Hurt lonely friend’s mom trumps boozy afternoon.

Awesome times a billion.

Megan requested risotto as she ran out the door.  I was going to kick that risotto’s ass.  Then I remembered that I was a stupid and bought the cheapest pot in the world with the thinnest bottom and the stupidest shade of blue.  Honestly: who wants a robin’s egg blue pot?  It sucks.  Every time I think about it, it sucks more and more.

The chicken spaghetti turned out well, though.  And for the first time, in what seems like forever, we got a pretty nice bottle of wine for the evening.

Wine: Vidal del Saz, Tempranillo, Spain, 2007, $139 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

Soft tannins and wafts of roses make this wine very smooth to drink.  Very mellow and flavourful.  Hints of orange and all spice.  It reminded us of Christmas.  A definite re-buy.  It was just the wine we all needed after a long week.  Plus, it was raining.  Perfect.

Also, the vodka helped.

This week we are getting ready for the wine tasting at Cava Veinte 33.  If you still want to go there are a few spaces left.  Don’t wait too long, though — these things always go fast as the actual date approaches.

This Saturday, September 17, at 1:30pm.

Until then,


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