Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CHRISTMAS TEA

The promised snow did not fall until after midnight, so all was clear and bright and very cold as our guests arrived at five. I was downstairs putting on finishing touches, and down came DDIL and Our Girl---they were the only “backdoor guests” this time---even the two next-doors came round to the front, arriving in bright coats and smiles, with a little breath of the cold ushering them in.

Chris and Our Girl had a date to go to Cracker Barrel and ride around a bit to see the Christmas lights, so after introductions, they departed into the frosty night. They DID come dashing back in, all bright-eyed and eager, about the time the cookies were all unwrapped, and I think that between them, they probably sampled every kind in the house.

You may click on photos to enlarge.



The living room dresser, with our little pans of brownies, and the smaller pans are 1 ¼ lb. homemade fudge. Homemade Chex Mix in the Mammaw bowl---Caro made gallons and everyone got great scoops of it in baggies to take home. I love that cloth---it's in shiny silky jewel shades, and it was one of the very first Thrift Store purchases after we moved up here---I paid five dollars for it in 1991. We had a tiny apartment, with the freezer in the living room, so I draped it with this cloth, and it made it look like just a piece of furniture.

At the far left is Jeeves, a little wooden butler that Daddy made for me years ago, holding a tray of favors---you can just see his feet, with the neat stripe down the side of his butler suit, and the top of his little pink bald head.

The couch’s summer green has been exchanged for its original burgundy, whence our whole color scheme has evolved over the years. Caro did all, and I mean ALL of the decorating up here---Christmas and furniture arranging and everything.

Everyone seemed to arrive at once, as if they'd all boarded the Christmas Bus and rollicked in from all over town, to step off at our curb. I went up to a roomful of bright chatter and warmth and the scents of vanilla and peanut butter and chocolate wafting from all corners, as the many trays and boxes of cookies were set out. Holiday sweaters and sweatshirts and sparkly earrings and tiny red-bowed wreaths-on-lapels added even more color to the festivities as everyone mingled in the upstairs kitchen for wine and mulled cider, cheese and fruit and salty nibbles.



Caro's kitchen corner.



Her kitchen window, all spruced up with a whole choir of Frosty people.


They sat and chatted in the living room and in the sitting area, finally furbished with its row of stockings beneath the windows. The old “waiter” on the ottoman made a handy spot to set down a glass or cup.


And the guestroom, in case anyone peeked in on the way to the Powder Room. Another little Snow Family taking their ease.
I finished up downstairs, setting out the sandwich stands, putting the hot foods on the buffet, lighting the candles, and went up to call everyone down to tea. We had one table of six,

and two tables of four---one down in the end by the buffet--and yes, that IS my red hat atop the torchiere---it makes a nice rosy glow in the evening.



And the other was the breakfast table, in its usual place, but all Cinderella-ed up for the party, like little birds had tied those very bows with their beaks.





I forgot to photograph the tables AFTER the sandwich stands went on---each table had a stand of little Paminna Cheese triangles, and little squares of ham, Havarti and pears on nutbread, like in a teashop. Everyone served themselves at the buffet, and went into my kitchen for tea and ice water and wine.



The Buffet, Clockwise from top: The green tray is Jalapeno Rolls with a bit of taco seasoning in the spread; Crudite with homemade Ranch, Devilled Eggs (always with paprika for Christmas), Chicken Salad in Croissants, Cheese and Grapes, Hot Artichoke Dip. Caro made the Potstickers in the big white bowl, and beneath the butterbell is an almond-covered cheeseball, made by my Mother’s always-for-Christmas recipe. Sausage Balls in the pink napkin, and, of course, Cucumber Sandwiches.


The Cheese Ball with the butterbell removed---we made three of this size, to fit into the well of the dish. This recipe has been in our family for probably fifty years, usually with toasted pecans in place of the almonds. And I love the look of a cuddle of old silver spoons on the table.




A better look at those divine Potstickers---the pink napkin in back holds tiny salt dips and ramekins, for pouring in individual servings of the ginger/sesame dipping sauce. And the Artichoke Dip is really four ingredients; I made up the recipe in a hurry one night when a gluten-free friend was coming to dinner. (And that's Our Girl's kitchen shelves in the background---she has a set of stainless cookware that I'd steal if it held more than half a cup).



Dessert, served from the Pass-Through---the top tray of the silver stand holds tiny brownies with a Reese’s cup pushed into the dough before baking; the bottom is Lemon Cheesecakes in a vanilla crust.

The green cups are Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Ganache.



Strawberry Trifle. Coffee and Tea in the kitchen. The trifle is not one of my most beautiful creations---it was getting VERY close to five, and I was sort of cascading berries into the bowl and glopping on creme anglaise like mortar with a trowel.
And on that charming note, I think there's been a surfeit of telling for now.
Tomorrow---COOKIES!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the invite- a wonderful party-loved every peek and look and closeup examination -up close to the screen -to see if could actually smell the goodness. But, please, no talking, until after we have examined all book shelves to see what we may have to come back to borrow later. Or when time permits you could just go down the row and show us piece by piece. How absolutely wonderful of the family to do all this work and share the bounty and blessings with your friends. It is more than I could ever hope to accomplish. Blessings in return to all of you, I hope

racheld said...

Janie in TX (I hope)

It was a blessing, just the doing and the being together, even if it did entail sorting chair skirts and punch cups (both of which I said I'd never do again, after catering so many weddings).

You're welcome to borrow, to take all, and to keep most of them---we're booksharers, and love to see someone reading one of our favorites for the first time, wishing we could see things with their fresh eyes.

I wish you could have been here for the party!

Southern Lady said...

Oh, what a lovely party, Rachel. From Caro's decorating to your scrumptious-looking food ... everything looked so festive and "Christmasy." I know your guests loved every minute of it.

I hope you can slow down now and enjoy your lovely home all dressed up for the holidays.

Can't wait to see the cookies!

Keetha said...

I shouldn't have read this just now - I'm hungry after reading the enticing descriptions and seeing the photos! What a lovely soiree.

Kim Shook said...

Thank you so much, Rachel, for sharing this wonderful celebration. That meal is EXACTLY my favorite kind to eat. Little pick ups that you can nibble an afternoon away on. Your home looks so lovely - tell Caro that I'm impressed and deeply in need of her services just now - does she make housecalls?

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

Oh, I think I just died and went to heaven, aLL THE cookies and you even have the same Santa sitting on your dresser that I have on mine, the little glasses also match a set I have that was my Mom's.
And yes it is the rolled tator candy, made with peanut butter. Mom learned to make it when we lived in New Orleans when I was a baby and it is now a family tradition. Can't have cChristmas without it.
I am so glad you knew what I was talking about, most people look at mne like I'm crazy when I mention tator candy.
Merry Christmas to you and yours
Molly