Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"I heard her sweeping away; and soon after she was gone..." ~ Jane Eyre

Reader, even Jane takes leave to Millcote from Thornfield in the novel.

I am taking a small leave from these affairs until after New Year's Day.

Of late, my brush strokes in life are not as even as I would like them to be. The metaphorical painter in me desires nothing more than to mix a new pallet and start stretching new canvases for this upcoming year - fresh, white canvases where all backgrounds and settings and figures are possible.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Divided equally between the nephew..." ~ Jane Eyre

Dear Bloggers O' The World,

I, Jack Krikor, would like to let you know that I have been a good boy this year. As you can clearly see, Santa is smiling, so he knows it, too! Ok, ok, so I have thrown some Cheerios at my Aunty Amy and love to create puddles when I wash my hands, but I am only 15 months old. Plus, I am so cute when I do both. How do I know? Because Aunty says so, that is how I know! Of course between you and me, I am the real boss of this nephew/aunt operation. I own her. OWN! Of late, she even has nicknamed me "boss" too. I kinda like it!

My Aunty Amy is too tired to blog since my grandma isn't feeling well this week, so I am going to take over for the next few days and show off some of my cuteness this Christmas season.

Oh and to this Percy fellow: no infatuation here. My Aunty loves me through and through, and she tells me that that I am the best male in the world...even above Santy Claus. I would tend to agree. I mean, personally I think I look better in red.

It is bedtime for me, dear bloggers, so I would like to say "a boo boo wah weee ma ma buh buh," which means goodnight to you! Hope you dream of sugarplums!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"I had already formed the intention of asking her to lend it to me some day..." ~ Jane Eyre

I hope that Paula (http://cookbookjunkie.blogspot.com/) does not mind that I took this from her latest blog post which had the awesome title of "Macaroni and a Meme." It was too good to pass up! I am tagging anyone else who would like to participate, so get writing! Enjoy!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate always reigns supreme for this chocoholic. My sister Jill gave me my annual peppermint hot cocoa container from Williams Sonoma this week (along with chocolate marshmallows) and my sweet mother surprised me last night by dropping of some cocoa in small canisters with the Peanuts gang on them. Last night I had "Snoopy's Smores" flavored cocoa.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? I think Santa should really just look into gift bagging from now on. Aside from Jack's presents, I gift bagged everything. Tissue paper and bags are so much easier than cutting paper and taping it all. I am the worst wrapper ever.

3. Colored lights on tree or white? I have white lights on my tree. I love white. My sisters do color and its so pretty, but there is something just magical about the white that I love, especially because I have red beads on the tree and they accent one another quite well.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Yes! It is in my hallway.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually right after Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? I really enjoy the appetizers the most on Christmas (we call it mezze). I always look forward to an Armenian dish called beurek, which is phyllo dough with feta cheese in the middle. As a child, my grandmother would make them not only filled with cheese, but filled with ground lamb as well.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: There are too many to name. My parents did so much to make each holiday special. Memories would be a post in and of itself.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? By reading a book, of course! I was in second grade and reading "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" by Judy Blume and Peter discussed Santa being fake but having to pretend because of his younger brother, Fudge.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? It has varied in my adulthood, but as a child we had to wait until Christmas morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? White lights, red beads, and lots of red and gold balls mixed in with my ornaments.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I love snow, especially when it is darling enough to get me a day home from work! I don't dread it now that I have an SUV, too.

12. Can you ice skate? Not very well at all. I do ski, though!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Yes. It was Christmas of 1982 and I got the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Its on my coffee table at the moment. I got Jack one and it is wrapped underneath my tree.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? My family and friends.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? How can I narrow this down to one? Its impossible. Of course it usually involves chocolate...

16. What tops your tree? A gold star with pearls intermingled on it. I got it at Fortunoffs the first Christmas I was here in my apartment.

17. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? Giving, especially to Jack! I can't wait for him to open up my presents.

18. What is your favorite Christmas Song? "Silver Bells" because its about Christmastime in the city, and New York is one of the best place to be on Christmas. As a child, my favorite version of the song was the Andy Williams version.

19. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I love peppermint, so candy canes are yummy to me.

20. What do you serve for Christmas dinner? Please see previous post!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"A joyous stir was now audible in the hall." ~ Jane Eyre

Early this morning I brought bagels to my sister's so we could have a planning session over a nosh and coffee. Since Christmas Day is two weeks from Monday, the menu had to be finalized! Sharing the cooking will be me, my sisters, and my brother-in-law's mother. The only item we are not cooking is the chocolate cake above, which my sister is ordering from Williams Sonoma. Isnt it festive?

If there is a modern day Miss Emma Woodhouse, it is my sister, Missy. She loves "news" and "parties" and all social occasions! Aside from the menu, we planned out the set up and table scape for the day as well. Notepads in tow, recipe books out, and lots of dialogue filled with excitement. I am trying to decide how I want to do placecards. I was thinking perhaps of getting candy canes and attaching gold ribbon (since the china has gold accents) to them with a tag and write the name in calligraphy. I will head to Michael's Crafts later on this afternoon to see what other ideas I can come up with.

I just got home and am sipping some gingerbread spiced tea (thanks to Frumteachers recommendation!) and revised the menu. I feel like I am drinking a ginger snap. Its delicious. For Christmas Day, I am making a vidalia onion pie, spinach gratin, mushroom stuffing, sauteed peppers, a honey cake, and a winter fruit salad with brandy.

It would be nice to hear what others are going to be dining on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, especially if you have family traditions! Our menu is certainly based on Armenian cuisine. I thought I would reprint the menu here as well. (Beurek is philo dough baked with cheese and dolma is stuffed grape leaves.)

Christmas Menu 2006 - Revised!

I. Appetizers
Russian Salad
Eggplant stuffed with Feta
Clam Pie
Vidalia Onion Pie

II. Main Course
Roasted Lamb with Potatoes
Spinach Gratin
Sauteed Peppers
Mushroom Stuffing
Greek Salad

III. Dessert (with soorj)
Red Velvet Cake
Honey Cake
Chocolate Cake (Williams Sonoma)
Winter Fruit Salad with Brandy

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"No—stop!" interrupted Colonel Dent. "Don't send her away..." ~ Jane Eyre

A list of things I cannot stop doing lately:

~ Listening to Wintersong by Sarah McLaughlin.
~ Jogging on the treadmill at the gym
~ Drinking sugar free hot cocoa and eating a Weight Watchers cake each night before bed
~ Crossword puzzles
~ Thinking about the celebration on Christmas Day
~ Telling myself that I am an awesome aunt because I landed a TMX Elmo for Jack
~ Remembering what it was like to perform on stage as an angel in The Nutcracker as a child
~ Talking extra loudly as I teach because my students are in the December doldrums
~ Sipping Nero D'Avola once or twice a week (its a great Sicilian wine)
~ Drinking water (I hate this dry heat)
~ Organizing a recipe box for D.R.
~ Lighting smelly candles at night all over my apartment
~ Getting out of bed late in the morning; in all my seven years of teaching, December is always the month I end up on time to school instead of being early
~ Watching Walk the Line (I have now watched this dvd at least ten times in the past three weeks and cry each time during the proposal scene)
~ Yawning
~ Writing out Christmas and Hanukkah cards; I hit 45 this evening
~ Wishing I was Nigella Lawson
~ Putting my seat warmer on when I am in the car since its gotten so cold here
~ Grading papers
~ Being excited about the vacation to come and all I have planned for it
~ Taking extra hot showers
~ Wearing skirts to work; I am usually a pants woman, but lately I have bought lots of skirts and tights and Mary Janes.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"Better is a dinner of herbs where love is..." ~ Jane Eyre

There is only so much holiday music I can stand listening to, so at the moment I have my Simon and Garfunkel cd in my car, and Scarborough Fair has constantly been on repeat these past few days as I drive along.

Although I have heard this song as a child, I didn't know it was a canticle from medieval times until I was in college. My advisor, Dr. Ward, was a Medievalist who taught the best Chaucer class ever, and I sat with her once on her office hours discussing this very topic. I also didn't realize that parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme were such poignant symbols until I read Hamlet in high school. Who can forget the scene when Ophelia is carrying rosemary for remembrance? It is heartbreaking.

The song is also heartbreaking...or is it? The canticle is about past lovers who were jilted and sing a duet together, telling one another they will be true lovers again if they can perform impossible tasks for one another. Then again, perhaps it is not so heartbreaking. Perhaps, if one has faith in love, these impossible tasks can be done. I would like to believe so. I really would. I must assert that I speak in general in this moment, not referencing any specific events or persons in my life: Since both lovers allude to the herbs, I think they also believe that they can overcome the impossible as well, taking the bitterness away, remembering the good times of the past, and finding strength and courage to overcome other obstacles in the way.

Parsley takes away bitterness
Sage symbolizes strength
Rosemary symbolizes remembrance
Thyme symbolizes courage

What warms my heart is anytime I cook a dish with these four herbs. I am more of a fan of dried parsley, but I love all of the other herbs fresh. I do believe in aromatherapy, and the pleasure of cooking is heightened even more as I smell these herbs when I prepare a meal. I made this dish, Simple Roasted Chicken with Truffle Oil Drizzle, recently and the rosemary and thyme are really what makes it so delicious. The truffle oil also makes it quite aromatic; I purchase mine at a specialty Italian food store. It is perfect for a holiday or for a cold winter's Sunday evening.

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, stems reserved
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves, stems reserved
2 large onions, thickly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 ribs celery, ends trimmed
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon truffle oil, to drizzle, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken well inside and out with water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the thyme and rosemary all over the chicken and place the reserved stems inside the chicken cavity. Arrange the onion slices, carrots, celery and bay leaf in the bottom of a small roasting pan in such a way as to make a bed for the chicken to lie on. Place the chicken on the bed of vegetables, breast side up, and roast in the oven until the skin is golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue to roast until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, 30 to 45 minutes longer.
Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
When ready to serve the chicken, carve into 8 pieces and serve, drizzled with truffle oil to taste. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs.