December is Here
This is such a busy time of the year that I really try to slow down and enjoy every minute of the hustle and bustle associated with the season. This past week was a movie in fast motion following on a very busy Thanksgiving holiday. We went from a week of extreme comings and goings with College Trip Part 1, then a birthday party in Boston for some, and the beginning of this week was College Trip Part 2. I learned last June that this family is super at logistics when my daughters were able to get me from the middle of I-81 to Montreal, Quebec on a direct flight that let me be there to be with my brother and sister when our mother died. Nothing should surprise me but this logistics challenge was met with such aplomb I have to tell the tale. College Trip Part 2 started very early on Monday morning with Margot, Jack and Hadley leaving for Charleston airport. Jack and Margot were headed for Denver, Colorado, Hadley to work in Baltimore. This meant that they had a car that was left at Charleston airport and a dog that was left with us. The question – how to get Brewer and the car from South Carolina to Asheville as Margot had a flight back to Asheville and Hadley a flight from Baltimore to Asheville. The solution – John and I drove Brewer to Charleston where we picked up the car at the airport and then drove separate cars to Asheville. But, it didn’t end there, we had to leave a car for Margot at the Asheville airport as her flight got in at 11:30pm and getting a cab or an Uber is rather difficult at that time. It all worked. Everyone got to where they needed to be, all flights were on time and College Trip #2 was a success. The New Hampshire family, however, were snowed in with their first blizzard of the season and were without electricity from Monday night into Tuesday night. Jack took a bus from Boston arriving in at midnight but by then the roads were cleared and Katie was able to pick him up. All of this took place in 48 hours folks. I’m tired just writing about it.
Our gift from the girls for chauffeuring dogs and cars was an evening at The Biltmore to see their Christmas display. One of my favorite treats of the year and it really begins the holidays for me. Would you believe it, it actually started to snow as we arrived in the village and headed up to the house. The magic of that evening will stay with me for quite some time. The Biltmore goes all out with the trees and the lights and the decorations and they include live music in their atrium. I went back to listen twice and to see the big tree in the main dining room twice. It was miserably cold but we didn’t care, it was very very special.
Brewer and The Cats
Brew doesn’t really trust cats at all. He was brought up in a house with a cat that didn’t really care for him and used to swat him if he came near. It is taking him awhile to trust other cats but he is slowly beginning to do so. I found him in our bed with Bean and Cleo. While not a snuggly photo they are at least in the same vicinity even though Bean and Cleo have a look on their faces that seems to say, what’s he all about?
Walking and Racing
I really have taken the month of November off from any heavy duty training. There were a couple of six mile walks, a lot of three to four mile walks, especially on the beach, but no really serious training despite having The Savannah Bridge walk to participate in on December 1st. We returned from Asheville late on Thursday and bright and early Saturday morning I was picking up Sandy and M.J. to go to Savannah. It was quite warm and a light rain was falling but we were optimistic that it wouldn’t be a downpour and it wasn’t. We all finished with great times and as you can see, were still standing. MJ came in third in her division which is quite an accomplishment. Congratulations to all of us. This is a really fun race with over 4000 participants. The challenge is the height of the bridge and having to go up and over the bridge twice to get in the 10K. Yes, my legs are a little sore.
Food for Thought
With the holidays upon us lovely food and entertainment is everywhere. Trying to keep to a healthy balance in food and exercise is definitely a challenge. Yes, there is planning and yes, you can make good choices but you also should feel that you can enjoy the food and drinks that are available along with your friends and family. I remind you about the 80/20 rule. Now is a good time to think about that. It is the last month of the year so more than 80% of the year has happened. Now treat yourself a little bit and enjoy without feeling overwhelmed. We treated ourselves to a delicious lunch out while doing a little shopping up in Asheville. We went to the Corner Kitchen a true Farm to Table restaurant. Our lunch was perfect. The atmosphere was so welcoming and pleasant, the food yummy and healthy, it was a treat worth doing for both of us. When done we were ready to return to our errands feeling quite jolly.
Recipe for Food and Friends
I found a recipe to try for good friends for a little pre-Christmas dinner before we head north. I am not usually the cook in the family but I am giving it the old college try. I am cooking a crown roast of pork with sweet potato casserole and broccoli. The recipes come from Southern Living and I share here with you so that you might give it a try. We are so lucky to have a new meat market that gets their meat from local suppliers and small farms which I fully support.
1 (10-bone) pork crown rib roast (about 7 1⁄2 to 8 1⁄2 lb.), frenched, chine bone removed
3 tablespoons country-style Dijon mustard
10 garlic cloves, grated (1 Tbsp.)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
NB: grating garlic cloves is a challenge, I used a cheese grater and it worked well
Trim fat on roast to 1⁄4 inch thick. Place roast on work surface, meat side down with ribs curved up. Cut 1 1⁄2-inch-long slits (about 3⁄4 inch deep) between rib bones on bony side of roast. Stand rack with ribs pointed up and slits facing away from you. Curve rack so that ends meet and form a crown. Tie roast with kitchen twine at bottom, in middle, and around bones to secure. I had the butcher do all this!
Wrap top of each rib bone, individually, with aluminum foil to prevent burning. (yup I did this)
Stir together mustard, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, oil, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl. Rub mixture on roast, working it into slits and avoiding frenched bones. Place roast on a rack set in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, 8 hours or up to overnight.
Remove roast from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450°F with oven rack in lower third of oven. Bake roast in preheated oven 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F, and continue baking until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of rib registers 135°F for medium, 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours and 10 minutes. Remove roast from oven; tent with foil. Let rest 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise to 145°F as the meat rests). The picture is mine mid-cooking. Not as pretty as Southern Living’s pictures.
I hope you take some time to enjoy your home and your family and friends during this busy time of the year. We are off to Canada this week. Leaving the kittens behind with their favorite kitten sitter and a few friends who have promised to come and visit them so they don’t get too lonely.