Thursday, December 25, 2008
Since I had Thanksgiving dinner, I didn't have to do Christmas. All I had to do was take wine and a dessert to Jim's sister's Betty's house, and to make breakfast. Mimosas, scrambled eggs with cheese, sausages, fruit salad, and scones--that's one of our standard Christmas breakfast (the other is Dutch Baby pancakes). My plan was to get up early and make Rose's ginger cream scones, which are easy enough to make but do require an hour in the refrigerator before baking. Since I didn't get up early, and I dawdled around with a cup of coffee or two, it was soon clear to me that the scones weren't going to get their hour of rest in the refrigerator. But they looked fine and sturdy before I put them in the oven, so I figured the hour in the refrigerator instruction was just one of Rose's perfectionist requirements. What could go wrong?
The scones were brushed with cream, sprinkled with sparkling sugar, with a few cute little red Christmas decoration thingies tossed on for good measure. I was excited--these were going to be perfect.
You're guessing they're not going to be perfect, right? You're guessing that there is a reason for Rose's nit-picky directions. You may even be guessing that maybe it wasn't such a hot idea to toss the little red doohickies on the scones before they bake because they might melt. If so, you are quite right.
I have to say this didn't even faze me. It's Christmas, after all, and what's a little imperfection among family? It didn't seem to faze anyone else, and the scones were quite good.
We opened presents, and then it was time for me to shift into high gear and make dessert. I'd spent a lot of time thinking about dessert. The truth is nobody ever really wants dessert after a big meal, especially since Betty is well known for putting out a spread of appetizers that could easily feed a pack of starving animals: meatballs, shrimp, broiled cheese and crab canapes, nuts, various dips and crackers, and cookies. This year was no exception.
Knowing this, I was aware that the idea of dessert would be met with groans, and I do not mean groans of anticipation. I mean groans of pure misery. Nevertheless, I did not choose a platter of fruit. Instead, I chose an Eggnog Pound Cake. This is from the "Simply Recipes" web site, from which I've had mixed success. The recipes are generally very homy--not necessarily sophisticated, but generally reliable as simple cooking. But did I want simple cooking? I decided that I did.
The only thing that bothered me was the plainness of the cake. Elizabeth told me she'd decorate it, and she definitely gussied it up!
She raided the dining room centerpiece of a few things--pine cones, a eucalyptus stem, and some fir--and arranged them in the center of the cake.
Everyone was extremely impressed. In fact, they did not believe I had made it myself, which I attribute to Elizabeth's decorating skills rather than to my baking ability. The cake was good, too, although, as I predicted, nobody really wanted dessert.