Tuesday, December 7, 2010


There's something magical about being on the moment of READY for a Christmas party---the trees glowing, the house decorated and shining and smelling of the season and the cider mulling on the stove, the candles lit and lamps at their lowest gleam. The door to the quiet room opens and in spill laughing people from the cold, their cheeks rosy, their cheery Christmas sweaters in red and green and all sorts of patterns and decorations.

And then, the party's on. A pale Rose wine, Pitchers of Sweet Tea, and Lemon water and mugs of hot mulled cider poured, we started up in the Living Room, with little nibbles on the dresser---a little tray of cheeses and grapes, Caro's just-made Pico de Gallo, laced with lime and redolent of cilantro and peppers, a basket of Scoops, another basket of crackers, and always, ALWAYS, a little dish of Paminna Cheese.

Chris always thinks this little bowl looks like jewelry, reflected in the glass of the table.

After about half an hour, we all trooped downstairs to our Dinner:

The round, pecan-covered mound in the middle is my Mother's Corned Beef Cheese Ball, hers made with a can of Hormel, but this one was made with snipped slices of Shapiro's Corned Beef. You can get a better look at the first picture at the top, served in state in an old water-well butter dish---no holiday would be complete without the Cheese Ball.

A table for six, over by the downstairs tree:

A long, narrow table for three in the other end of the room---the favors are Godiva truffles (we needed more chocolate in the house). The glasses are the Mammaw Goblets, brought out for holidays and other special occasions.

Breakfast table set for three against the wall, so as to leave a wide passage down the room:

Chicken Salad in Croissants:

Devilled Eggs on Mammaw's Egg Plate:

Some chilled Shrimp, cooked with Old Bay; a zippy cocktail sauce went in the bowl.

Hot Artichoke Dip---this one's TOO easy. Just chop two drained cans of plain old artichoke hearts (not the ones in vinegar), mince a can of water chestnuts. Mix it all with a drained jar of pimiento and a cup each of Sharp Cheddar and Fresh-Grated Parm, with a little mayo to hold it together. Bake in a gratin til the proverbial G&B.

For a main dish for eight, add two cups of cooked, chopped chicken or crabmeat, and two cups of cooked rice. Leave out the rice, and it makes a splendid Almost la King, in little shells or over toast.

This one was special for one of Caro's WW friends---FF Cream Cheese and snipped dill, in hollowed-out thick cucumber rounds, with raggedy pieces of Smoked Salmon atop. DO click twice to see this in all its glory---it looks like a magazine piece:

And, of course, Chris' gorgeous Grilled Ham---he usually just circles it round a platter for parties, but this time, he included some of the luscious smoky edge pieces, rich and salty and yummy:

Some 1-2-3- Sausage Balls, easier than pie:

And lots of delicious, crunchy Veggies, with a homemade Ranch Dip:

We'll leave it there with that lovely crisp palate-refresher, and continue tomorrow, with enough Cookies, Fudge, Brownies, Bars, Truffles, and Squares to set out on every Christmas Eve hearth across the nation.

Moire non,


Kim Shook said...

Every single thing looks absolutely delicious and makes me hungry sitting here knowing that all I have at home for dinner is the makings for grilled cheese and a can of red n white! How welcome and cherished each one of your guests must have felt!

Anonymous said...

What a grand team the three of you make in the wonderful preparations and generosity of sharing with the ones blessed to know and live near enough to come to your home. Many blessings are wished for you in return.

racheld said...

How very kind you both are!! And I wish you BOTH could have been here--we had a lovely time, and would love to have had you at our table(s).

It was fun and very rewarding and fulfilling and tiring and I'm still not back to myself---have been just doing little inconsequential things to get stuff in order again.

Anon---I DO hope you'll someday uncloak and join right in---the comments and visitors just make me feel so nice, so I'd love to get to know you.

And Kim---what IS red&white? Sounds like chili, which DOES sound perfect with a GC on a night like this.

Kim Shook said...

Oh I wish it WAS chili, that would be great on a cold night. No, Red&White refers to the trademarked colors on the cans. Just add water, heat, stir, serve.... got it yet?

Caro said...

"...Soup is good food..." ;-)

Chesapeake said...

Oh, such exquisite torture for the online visitors!

Beverly said...

I hope you're satisfied because I now have "tongue" marks on my screen. I couldn't help licking it. Please don't tell anyone.

Bev said...

Now that's a spread..beyond fabulous!

Southern Lady said...

Everything looks so pretty and mouth-wateringly (is that a word?) delicious, Rachel. You and Caro and Chris outdid yourselves, and I know your guests are still talking about your lovely party. I'm so glad you shared it with us.

I think I'm going to try the Artichoke Dip -- it looks and sounds scrumptious. What do you use for dipping?

Kouign Aman said...

Oh Rachel! Oh my!

Why is it that we think of static state of tidiness & 'everything in its place' as
"being back to ourselves" when in fact some of us thrive on the getting ready, the party and the putting away? I think you would be far from yourself actually, if you were not deep in process of entertaining.

And such words. Like the popcorn strand on the tree, each word may not stand out, but strung together, with just enough of the eye-catching cranberry words for 'pop, you make lovely strands.

Jeanne said...

Good morning Rachel, this post is good enough to eat. LOL. Everything looks festive and delicious. You did a grand job of making delicious food and making everyone feel special with the pretty table settings. All prepared with loving hands and presented in a lovely way. I wish I could have been there to share the warmth of special people.
Hugs, Jeanne

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

All I can say through the drool is "oh, my". What an outstanding setting and marvelous food, but I'm sure the warm fellowship was even more wonderful than all the rest.
Have a Blessed Day

racheld said...

Y'all are just SO SWEET!! How I wish, I WISH you could have all been here!! I'd have been in a flurry of wanting to sit by every one of you at once, and talk to you all night.

A friend of mine used to tell me all the time she wanted to come to Camp Rachel, and wouldn't that be fun to all get together like that?

I thank you all for the lovely comments and compliments, and most of all, for being here, day after day, to look in and say hello, or just read and enjoy, or just pop in to see what's going on. It's just so very gratifying to see so many familiar names and places as they crawl up the sideboard. Even if you never speak up or uncloak or pop in and pop out, it's a lovely thing to see the familiar place names as they show that friends have looked in.

And new flags and names and places---new friends in the making, and welcome, one and all.

Thank you, thank you for being here and for making me feel so welcomee in this vast 'Net.


Marlene said...

Oh my goodness! And I know how good those chicken salad croissants are, because I have been following your wonderful recipe for months now..and I thank you for sharing! Everything looks so tasty, so I'm here drooling with everyone else.

Penny said...

Rachel, ALL of your dishes look delicious. What a wonderful party. I am looking forward to the desserts! I enjoyed your remebrance of making ristras on my blog. Glad it brought back such lovely memories.

Maggie McArthur said...

Now THAT's a party! My goodness, what generosity, what gorgeous food. Although I wasn't there, through your words it feels as if I were. Thank you!

racheld said...

Thank you, thank you ALL!!! I wish you all HAD been here! I'd have been spinning madly, wanting to talk to each one of you all night.

Marlene---I'm so glad you've been making the chicken salad---haven't made any other version for a VERY long time. I do have a way of trying the chicken salad anywhere I see it on a menu, and I DID have a sandwich in an Irish pub which had chicken roasted with rosemary and thyme, then dressed in a tangy Dijon dressing. Gotta try a version of that soon.

Penny, I think I may write about the peppers/ristras on here soon. Thank you for the memory.

Maggie---no words.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

I don't know, Rachel...I posted my Thanksgiving photos AFTER Thanksgiving. I think it was actually in December. Who care! If they are cute..then post them for heavens sake. Then post the tree right next to them. :) Shake people up a wee bit. It's good for them!