December 17, 2009

The Evolution of the Oddest Christmas Eve Dinner... EVER.

When we're in town, Christmas Eve dinner is here and Christmas Day is at my sister-in-law's. It works out perfect as I hate cooking on Christmas Day and she can't cook on Christmas Eve as she's a general manager for a very large department store.

I plan the meal starting right after Thanksgiving. It started out pretty normal. Per the usual, I started with dessert. Planning the dessert is first and foremost.

So in love was I with the pumpkin pies my Dad made over Thanksgiving, that I deemed them one of the desserts for Christmas Eve as well as Southern Living had on the front cover a picture of a chocolate cake that looked to die for. And so it was... ginger snap crust pumpkin pie and chocolate cake for dessert.

The following day, I decided I wanted a meat for Christmas Eve. I said that to my husband. "Hun, I'm having a ham for Christmas Eve."

Good grief... you'd have thought I personally crucified Christ. I married into a devout Italian Catholic family. You DO NOT EAT MEAT on Christmas Eve.


And so I decided, "Ok, I tried it. I lost. No meat."


Pop came over a few days later and we started to discuss the main meal for Christmas Eve. If I couldn't have my meat, then my husband was in charge of figuring out what we were going to have. I wanted meat, they wanted fish... he had to figure it out.

In my mind, I was still winning this battle and having meat.

Pop and he decided to sit down and bond on Christmas Eve. They are making Pop's calamari sauce, a sauce I believe he has not made since Ma died, 10 years ago this January. That left me to create... a list.

Vegetables. I said to the both of them, my father in law sitting closest to me with his back to my husband, "Salad or brocolli?"

My husband said, "Salad." My father in law mouthed to me, "Brocolli" and I said, "Look at that. Brocolli it is..." to which my father in law grinned and then whispered hoarsely in his Parkinson ladened voice, "The little flourettes."

So that was that. Little flourette brocolli, I'll still make a salad, calamari sauce, pasta, chocolate cake and pumpkin pie.

And then Sunday... my sister in law said to me quietly in the kitchen, a woman who never asks anything of anyone... "Bou, are you making those... cheese... that cheese stuff this year?"

"Cheese grits?" I asked.

"Yes! I LOVE THOSE!" she replied.

And I said, "Why yes... I am!" which I wasn't, but she asked and how in the hell do you say no to someone so kind and who asks and who LIKES cheese grits as much as I do?

At dinner, something came up about my Dad's King cake... TGOO makes King cakes that are out of this world and the kids LOVE to see who gets the baby.

And so the pumpkin pies got tossed and we now have the following menu for Christmas Eve... a carbo loaders fantasy... a marathon runner's dream:

Italian bread
Calamari Sauce
Eggplant Parmesan (probably)
Cheese Grits
Chocolate cake
King Cake (which is a Mardi Gras/Easter type dessert, but it's a Christmas Eve special here... who gets the baby Jesus hidden in the cake?)

There you have it. Southern meets NOLA meets Italian.

Pass the Tums.

Posted by Boudicca at December 17, 2009 10:30 PM

Christmas dinner in Texas is a lot less fuss. We just gorge on pork tamales (which, of course, have to be washed down with a beer or two).

Posted by: Bob at December 17, 2009 10:42 PM

Wow. We have church on Christmas Eve at 5 and we are helping watch little ones at 6:30. Since I know my kids can't wait to eat until 8pm I suppose I should think about what to feed them for dinner... Around 4pm. Seriously, why my church is having things so early this year is beyond me...

Posted by: Jody at December 18, 2009 07:28 AM

Don't forget 30 Dixie cups of Coke for each diner.

Posted by: Mockingbird at December 18, 2009 10:25 AM

Please come over and cook at my house!

I don't know what we are having on Christmas Eve. One of my friends has a tradition of Christmas Eve tacos, but since I am making Christmas dinner, I don't want any work for Christmas Eve. We've had too much pizza lately, so that doesn't sound good. Got any suggestions?

Posted by: PeggyU at December 18, 2009 12:22 PM

It's a common misconception that the Three Magi arrived bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They really brought frankincense, myrrh, and a big Crockpot full of cheese grits!

Posted by: El Capitan at December 18, 2009 03:26 PM

Let's hear it for Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, especially the one carrying the cheese grits!

Posted by: Angus of Jura at December 18, 2009 03:42 PM

Whoa, those Italian Catholics are pretty serious! I was reared in a pretty serious (Irish) Catholic family...never heard of not being allowed meat on Christmas Eve!

But cheese grits...ahh, yes. YUMMY! Except we make Jalapeno Cheese grits!

Posted by: Mrs. Who at December 18, 2009 05:03 PM

Mmmm. Think I'll be seeing you for dinner.

Posted by: diamond dave at December 19, 2009 11:09 AM

I'm fairly certain I've never eaten a cheese grit. What am I missing?

Posted by: PeggyU at December 19, 2009 07:24 PM