Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chrismoose 2014

Last Chrismoose I gave you my car. The very next day, they towed it away.

I've already told you about "Chrismoose" but in case you have forgotten....Chrismoose is the two days before Christmas where we celebrate with my step-son. It's a million times more fun and relaxing and this year was no exception.

Last week I had my last day of work for the semester and so I had a few much needed days to decompress at home, work on some presents and enjoy life with the fluffies.

We have a few traditions we like to do to make Chrismoose more special. On Chrismoose Eve and Chrismoose Day we try to take a nice long hike (weather permitting.) We're all nature lovers and it's nice to get out of the house and just enjoy some time together.

We also get into the spirit by doing a Random Act of Kindness on Chrismoose Eve. This year we paid for the person in line behind us at Starbucks and bought a bunch of food and donated it to the local food pantry.

I grew up in a household where everyone got to open one present on Christmas Eve so we do that for Chrismoose too! Here is B with a BIG surprise from G.

This year our wrapping was pretty eclectic!  Unwrapped items, stockings, fabric bags, recycled gift bags, Amazon boxes and a few wrapped gifts all piled under the tree. I'm happy to report that unwrapping presents was no less exciting without the hullabaloo of fancy paper. I like that gift bags are reusable because I feel like we make a lot of waste at Christmas.

Our tree was an experiment we will not likely repeat. We bought it at a local Christmas Tree Farm which was cool because it was local, a fun outing and we got to pick out our own. Since we don't live in the mountains they only had various Cypress trees. This one still looks cute in the picture but I am NOT plugging in those lights because it is as dry as can be. I'd worry that I'd burn the house down. Next year we're going to do some alternative trees and I am more than a little excited.

Chrismoose Morning we got rolling at 10am. For those of you with littles I know you're jealous. Teenagers have their advantages. We blasted through the presents, a good haul for everyone and I got a new WAFFLE MAKER! Which is exciting because I was planning to make waffles and my old waffle maker (a wedding gift from my first marriage, scandalous!) has a big chunk missing from it so it leaks batter all over the place.

I made gingerbread waffles from Smitten Kitchen  and they were marvelous. She warns that they are hard to get out of the waffle iron but that they get lovely and crispy if they sit for a second...and she was right!! 

One of my favorite stocking stuffer challenge items was this corn....which had the challenge item of, "ridiculous food."

It is shelf stable corn on the cob, supppppppper wrapped up and it's "SO NATURAL." LOLOLOLOLOL. Another good one, with the challenge, "Turn down for what?" was a pack of balloons with LEDs in them which were hilariously fun for the whole family. 

The star of Chrismoose this year was dinner. Over the years that we have done Chrismoose we've been searching for the right thing to serve for dinner. We knew we wanted something special, something that made sense for our family and something that was kind of a big production to cook. B and I both love to cook but we have very different styles. He came up through the ranks and cooked in fine dining restaurants so he either wants to make something vaguely French sounding or something he can wing from the top of his head. He hates recipes. I love recipes! I'm more of a curator of food than a chef. I have an epic Pinterest board and one of my favorite things to do is hear about a new food, research it and then make it to see what it's like. The best example of this is hummingbird cake. Once at the Farmers Market I overheard a guy selling cheese say how much he would love a hummingbird cake. I had NEVER heard of such a thing so I found a recipe, made it and then brought him one the next week. It is very rare that I make the same thing more than once but I do have some staples.

We've recently started watching a few cooking shows here and there. We watched, "Two Fat Ladies"  and I was steadily horrified by almost everything the cooked. Anchovy oil? Walnut oil? N-O.

Then I accidentally stumbled upon something closer to home and we started watching "A Chef''s Life." It's a great show about a North Carolina chef who has a restaurant in Kinston. She takes local foods that she grew up eating and then makes them fancier for her restaurant. It's been fascinating for both of us. So when we watched the episode about Eastern NC Fish Stew we both looked at each other and new what would be served on Chrismoose. Here was a recipe that was perfect for both of us!! 

B got the fish from a fish market that he used to work at and he and B brought it home and cleaned it. One of our fish had a tinier fish inside of it. BONUS!

B made fish stock, that's the last time that's happening in the house BTW, and we assembled our ingredients. To make fish stew you line a big pot with bacon and cook that up. Then you add potatoes, onions, red pepper flakes, stock or water and whatever white fish you have handy. We used black bass. You simmer the whole thing over an open fire for about 2.5 hours. DO NOT STIR. I don't know why but everyone agrees about that. (Some people add tomato paste but we didn't. Apparently it's regional.) At 2.5 hours add a dozen eggs, don't stir and let them hard boil. (Weird huh!?) When they eggs are done the stew is done. We served it with home made bread and cornbread but traditionally it's served with Wonder Bread.

That's our new Black Friday fire pit on its maiden voyage. We didn't have a grate but necessity is the moth of invention so we used some stainless steel shelving.

The best part about this process is sitting around the fire and keeping tabs on the stew. The smell is also faboo.

It was a chilly and misty Chrismoose so we were really hoping the rain would hold off til the stew was done. (It mostly did!)


Now it's simmering really well!

Chrismoose Approved.

B put the eggs in. I admit that I was worried about this step. It smelled heavenly at this point and the egg part sounded kind of weird.

Looked gross too!

It's good and dark and the rain is starting in earnest....but the eggs are done! 


It was a-maz-za-zing. It was not too fishy and a little bit spicey. The hardboiled egg was great and not gross at all. We had a few friends over to share it because it makes a huge batch and everyone agreed that it was delish! This is definitely going to stay on our Chrismoose menu and we've promised a few people to make it this Spring. 

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