Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday before Christmas

In the middle of the night I worried about one of my pasta recipes -- the one that includes pumpkin. I had the sense that something was missing from my recollection (and notes) of it. I reached for my computer. I needed to sort this stuff out or I would not be able to drift back to sleep. Ed grunted, but with understanding. We are used to middle of the night wake-ups.

Mostarda! Yes, I'd forgotten about mostarda.

Do you know about this stuff? It's not really Italian mustard -- it's a chutney of sorts, though it does have mustard grain in it. And fruits. It's crucial to an authentic tortelli con zucca which figures prominently in one of the several meals I'll be cooking this weekend.

Amazon, help!

Nope. Not available until next week.

And then I come across a recipe on the internet for this fantastic zucca (pumpkin) dish (so beloved in both Mantova and Parma) -- and this recipe prints out to be some fifteen pages long and the author says that it is like a rabbit hole and I surely know what she means. You need amaretti (little Italian cookies). I myself remembered to pick up some of those on the other side of the ocean, but in fact, you can buy them here too, or you can make your own.

And the mostarda -- if you can't find it in your local Italian store, I'm told I can make it myself (never mind the long ingredient list). Now, the recipe does call for some candied fruits that aren't readily available. No problem! I can make those too! And so I am now making a mountain of things just so I'd be able to throw them together for the stuffing of a pasta.

This is one reason I love this holiday so much -- you worry about such silliness. Ah, may a day be this light and crispy (like an amaretti!) always!

We eat breakfast at the kitchen table, with cook books now adorning the empty spaces.

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And then I finally figure out what I'm cooking and when, and I make the proper lists and check them twice.

Remembering the advice of a wise Ocean reader, I then finish my wrapping duties while standing upright. A senior way of dealing with the twisting and bending that big boxes require.


In the afternoon, I'm at Snowdrop's home. She's napping still, but I'm anxious to see her.

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We play, yes of course.

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And I'm not one to doubt that the little one loves me. We spend a boatload of hours together. But look at her face when mommy enters the room!

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Later in the afternoon, my older girl and I take Snowdrop to the mall. Perhaps you'll think -- that's an odd little outing, but the day is gray and our weather is generally uninteresting right now and we thought the holiday buzz might be something she'll enjoy. And she does. (We put her in the driver's seat again. She's a natural!)

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Her mom is looking to pick up gift wish cards at the giving tree. Snowdrop is concentrating on driving the car.

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When she tires of driving, she enjoys being the passenger.

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We don't really have a goal, nor do we have a shopping agenda. But we're curious how she'll regard the Santa. There's just a short line. One babe after the next greets the old guy with wails. Snowdrop? Here's the photo taken by the "Santa's helper."


We think maybe it's that she is very used to grandpa Ed's white beard. Too, she is just such a social girl. And finally, of all things, this particular Santa appears to have a toy penguin with which to entertain the kids.

It was a completely successful mall outing.

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And in the evening, I bring Snowdrop back to the farmhouse while the parents attend to their social obligations.

She needs no reminders as to what's what. And of course, she has quite her special moments with the bearded guy at home!

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They can be unstoppable...

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She is too excited to nap. Well, I'm not one to be surprised. Wasn't I studying recipes for pumpkin tortelli in the middle of the night?

Snowdrop is, these days, a girl on the go. But then she hears the door open. Her parents are back!

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See you tomorrow, little girl. I'm wishing us all a good night tonight! We need the rest for the days ahead.