Recipe Links
Basil Oglio Fra Diavlo Black Pepper and Fennel Shortbread Crackers Bleu Bacon and Italian Burgers Blueberry Almond Crumble Pie Braised Beef Short Ribs Breakfast Sausage Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies Buttermilk Pancakes California Grilled Artichokes Capressa Fra Diavlo Cherry Garcia Icecream Cherry Sangria Chicken and Polenta Chicken Cacciatore Chicken Vegetable Soup with Broccoli Rabe Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting Chocolate Sparkle Cookies Christmas Shortbreads Classic Hummus Coconut Cake Coq Au Vin Wine Braised Chicken Cranberry Orange Crumb Cake Cream Corn and Lima Bean Succotash Cream of Crab and Corn Soup Devishly Chewy Brownies Eggplant Parmesan Fetticini Alfredo with Bacon and Peas Fusilli a la Vodka Sauce Ginger Chocolate Spice Cookies Gnocci with Broccoli Rabe and Sausange Gramma Daly's Cole Slaw Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Butter Grilled Swordfish Hazelnut Biscotti Cookies Heavenly Blondies Homemade Italian Sausage Homemade Sauerkraut Hot Artichoke Dip Italian Meatballs Lasagna Bolonase with Ragu Sauce Little Sister's BBQ Ribs Molten Chocolate Cake Olio fra diavlo pasta salad Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake Quiche (Sans the Lorraine) Red Velvet Cake Seafood Francaise Shaved Brussel Spouts & Polenta Cake Slow Cooker Thai Pork and Coconut Rice South Florida Fish Stew Spagetti ala Olio Aglio and Pepperoncino Spiced Pear and Cranberry Chutney Steak Braciole Sunday Tomato Sauce Sweet Potato Corned Beef Hash Swordfish Oreganade Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin and Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce The White House Maryland Crab Cakes Tomato Bisque with Chichen and Rice Turkey Paprikash Soup Walnut Shortbread Christmas Cookies White Bean Pasta Fagioli

Christmas Morning: Gramma Daly's Crumb Cake

I grew up in the middle of my Grandfather's farm.  He granted the lots to his three children to build houses on. Ours in the middle, my father's brother and his family on one side, and my father's sister and her family on the other.  It was known as "the hill" and there were 10 kids growing up so it was our own little neighborhood.

We had horses and a horse-drawn sleigh, a skating pond, a sledding trail, a swimming pool, a swamp, a brook, climbing trees, a sandpile, a tire swing, and a Christmas Tree Farm.  My parents couldn't understand why I wanted to go away to summer camp.

On Christmas, my brother would get up at all hours of the night, sneak into the living room, and peak at all of his presents before anyone else got up.  Then he could finally get to sleep.  The rest of us kids would get up at dawn because we were so excited to see what Santa brought we couldn't sleep either. My parents (who were up till late getting out the presents) would be the last ones awake, and we weren't allowed to open family gifts until they were up.

Christmas morning meant three breakfasts after we finished opening our family presents.  Once those were opened, it was time to begin the trek between houses to see what the other kids got for Christmas.  My Aunt Gen would make my Gramma Daly's Crumb Cake for breakfast.  Then we would make the trek past our house over to my Aunt Lorraine's house for homemade egg nog and cold lobster salad sandwiches.  As I got a bit older, the egg nog got spiced with rum. 

After that, it would be back home to get ready for Christmas Dinner, usually at one of my aunts on my mother's side of the family.  We would walk into the house with it smelling like Christmas Eve dinner all over again because by now my brother was up again and heating up leftover baked stuffed shrimp for breakfast.

That was three, right?


Its Birthday Time for the Girl: Christmas Shortbreads

Yeah, time to get out the decorations and the bakeware.  I don't have my kitchen slave with me this year, she is spending a year abroad in Switzerland, so I am sending over a tin of cookies for Christmas and her birthday, along with a few other surprises.  She loves decorating cookies and trimming the tree, but I have to do it all myself this year.

We all miss you, Gracie Girl!   Have a wonderful birthday and enjoy these Christmas Shortbreads!




If someone told me that I was going to build my own chandeliers, I would have thought them crazy.  Turns out, I'm the one that's crazy.

When we built our house, I got to pick out all new lighting.  When the saleswomen told me that lighting is like jewelry for your house, I knew I was in the right place.  I wanted bling, and lots of it. 

You know how you feel when you realize you have left your house without earings on?  That's how my dining area felt.  I had purchased monorail lighting at my other house, and intended on re-using it whereever we landed.  But I was unable to find pendents in a chandelier style. 

It took me three years, several trips to Brimfield (the seasonal antique fair in New England), trips to every lighting store in a 100 mile radius, and countless junking expiditions, along with some on-line searching to find all of the parts I would need to build these things, but I finally finished them. 


It's that Time of Year

Mr. Popper's Penguins 

We watched it last year at least three times, and when viewed again this year, we still giggled all the way through it.  That warrents its addition to the list.  Jim Carry again, so if you are not a fan, you probably won't like it.  He's out of costume, and plays a rather cold but sophisticated character.  Thawed by the end of the movie, of course.


I was never a particular fan of Will Ferrell (unless you don't count Cowbell), but this movie is original, charming, funny, has a great soundtrack, and Will is utterly charming in it.  When you call our home phone in the month of December, you will hear Chris say, "Buddy the Elf, what's your favorate color?"

We can't figure out why Grace The Girl doesn't like it.  Perhaps letting a very tired seven year old who still believed in Santa watch a giant elf having a fist fight with a fake Santa wasn't the best idea.  She's never quite gotten over it. 

I did ask her the other day if she still believed in Santa.

She said, "I don't see any reason not to."  Wise Girl.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

If we let her, Grace would watch The Grinch 24x7.  (So would I.)

A Charlie Brown Chrismas

I have both the movie and soundtrack version.

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

When I want to watch this movie, Chris runs upstairs to his cave and puts on the Twilight Zone marathon, and Grace buries her nose in a book.  Seriously.

Mr. Magoo is an annoying cartoon character I couldn't stand as a kid.  Politically insensitive, it likely wouldn't get broadcast in today's world.   It's the music that gets me.  It took me years to find it for sale and now seems to be back in the mainstream. 

Miracle on 34th Street

Lots of remakes, but there's not beating Natalie Wood in her very first role.  I don't even mind the colorized version.

The Lion in Winter

Katharine Hepburn, Peter O'toole, and at the beginning of their careers, Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton. 

Its a Wonderful Life

Never one of my favories, but Chris loves it.  Its also on everyone else's list.

A Christmas Story

Recently voted by a poll in Vanity Fair as the most overplayed movie.  Thanks, TNT.

The Men Who Built America

Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, JP Morgan and Ford.  You know their names.  Now watch their stories.  One of the best historical documentaries we've seen.  You might do better at The History Channel website and get all five segments together.


On a music side, we have all the standards, but a very recent addition is a recording from Bruce Cochburn.  He's not your mainstream musician, nor is this group of songs your mainstream Christmas.  But it is different, and beautiful in a haunting way, and has become the first piece of music we play on the morning of December 1st.

James Taylor at Christmas

This would not have made the list since it's more of a jazz rendition of the old standards.  However, his rendition of Auld Lang Szne has made me listen to what we normally hear when the ball drops in a very different way.


The Flute Theory (Cont'd.)


Chris:  “Honey, where are the December glasses?”

Everybody has their toys, even when they are grown-ups.  These are my toys.  (Flute Theory, explained.) And I’m very good at sharing my toys, so if you show up in December, chances are you’ll get handed one of this filled with something bubbly. 

We only serve the best champagne in this house.  Did you bring any?