When I say eating, I mean eating. Serious eating.

Archived | December 22, 2009 | By

Listened to the how Saturday and it was not bad. We were on our way home from a family Christmas gathering over in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and the sun had set, and everyone was dozing from the warmth of the car and from eating all day. When I say eating, I don’t mean a sandwich and a little potato salad and a bar. I mean eating. Serious eating. This was Wisconsin, people, where you don’t leave a Christmas party thinking about a pit stop at Arby’s.
The party was held at the lovely new home of a cousin of mine. She and her husband were married a while back and we take turns hosting in my family and seems they were up for it this year. Festivities began at 1:00, and within the hour, there was a major pile of shoes at the front door, and a dining room table and kitchen counter packed end to end with food. Finger food. For every finger. There were deviled eggs and peanut butter balls, bowls of nuts and M&Ms, chicken wings and Rueben dip and artichoke dip and something called “cowboy caviar.” There was finger Jell-O, pecan fingers, a vegetable tray and a bucket of chocolate chip cookies. Spritz, pretzels, chocolate-covered Oreos, meatballs and wieners, and cheeses with crackers. Pickles and herring and olives and shrimp. On and on and on. At some point someone hollered, “Comin’ through!” and someone else cleared a space and there was meatloaf and cheesy potatoes and more meatballs and hot cheese dip. And there was wine, and beer. As much of anything as a person might want.
It went on like this throughout the day, and as the food was replenished, there were racetracks set up in the living room and a beanbag toss tournament in the basement and discussions here and there about college costs, the Vikings, aging rock stars and the best way to make fattijmand. There was a brief crisis when one of the kids locked everyone out the bathroom, and another when several stocking-footed people walked through spilled beer. There were people laughing in the living room and someone wept at a story in the kitchen. Children dashed here and there chattering and whining and searching for candy. There was a tree and a food exchange (everyone brought a $20 food gift) and a movie playing in a bedroom for the kids to watch if they wanted and the windows were steamed up and the place smelled of holiday and meatloaf and pine.
If you sat quietly, off to the side, now and then you could hear Christmas music playing softly on the radio in the corner. I heard it just as we were saying goodbye. The song was “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.” Made me pause a moment. It’s a song about angels singing, and hope and reminds me of being a child. The winter night sky was so vast then. Still is.
Here’s a recipe you can whip up for your sweetheart
or your next-door neighbor. Something light and sweet
and pretty to look at.

Winter Day Meltaways

1 cup softened butter
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp almond extract (I use more)
1 ¼ cups flour
½ cup cornstarch
Combine butter, sugar and almond extract. Add flour and cornstarch.
Refrigerate for half an hour or so until you can form one inch balls with the dough.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350 for 11-13 minutes or until edges are a bit
brown. Cool and frost with powdered sugar glaze.
You can substitute peppermint extract for the almond for variety’s sake.