Christmas ’08 – Karnes (dt)

Menu
  Appetizers
  • Baked bacon sizzling with dates & roasted pecan filler
  • Bowls of black olives and sweet pickles
  • A crescent roll ring, topped with cream cheese and sour cream seasoned with dill & garlic powder, topped with the seasonal colors of celery, broccoli, red peppers
  Salad
  • Spring-spinach mix with shreds of carrots, slices of pepper, chick peas, pickled beets, dried cranberries, tomato slices and almond slivers
  Main Course
  • Omaha Steaks prime rib roast, encrusted with horse radish, roasted garlic & olive oil
  • Mashed potatoes with cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and chives
  • Carrot-broccoli-red pepper casserole in butter & cheddar & cream sauce
  • Buttery mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar
  • Pinwheel biscuits with parmesan cheese, garlic, and butter
  • Brown gravy from the drippings of the roast and seasonings
  Dessert
  • Caramel apple crisp, with vanilla ice cream
  • Triple layer chocolate cake, top icing of praline, interior layers of ganache
  Drinks
  • Mouton Cadet 2005 Bordeaux, Kir Royale, a stray beer, a pinot noir, scotch, white zin

A delectable menu, even as good as the one above, barely does justice to the anticipation and good feeling that Dinner Group of Ten (with Mike and Sheila Romalin) shared at the Karnes’ home, the sixth consecutive year Chay and Deb have so warm-heartedly welcomed us.
              
Nearly a foot of snow had fallen the 30 hours before our gathering, guaranteeing the classic winter/Christmas setting that recent winters have not delivered. Bushes and fences strung with lights guided us into the house, with the nine foot Christmas tree, with its “old styled” bulbs, lighting the foyer. Christmas-themed decorations abounded and attested to the enjoyment of the season while a rolling-loop DVD of Christmas scenes and music added background spirit.
               Krypton greeted us with a tail’s wag as we pushed presents under the tree. So, we caught up on the usual stories for the rest of the evening – where our kids are or are going to be, the Adams grandchildren and Judy’s schedule, Mike and Sheila’s grandchildren, the anticipation of snow, possible retirements (Mike says this year is it, Sheila says any time, Kriss says not yet, Don hasn’t made up his mind), Deb K’s mother and other, Sheila’s shoulder, trying to work Christmas preparations around the other facets of our lives, the economy and downturn that we have seen secondhand mostly, the economy and its effect for the next couple of years (Tim will retire, some day!), Christmas shopping, Mike’s pricing of cars, clearing snow, how much we love winter (or not), family happenings, and so on.

              Each round of food not only bore testimony to our pleasure in interests culinary but also reminded us of the caring and experience we all bring to the table and group. The tender roast, mostly done medium-well, was sliced into inch slabs that most could not finish, complimented by the potato preparations and vegetable bowl.
              
Deb read her birthday cards, an array of risqué and morally upright cards, while most of us reassured her that being 50, or older, was not something to fear. (It was less than five months previous that the grand 49½ party roared through Pine Meadow Lane.)
               Off we retreated to the Christmas exchange (more aptly characterized as opening-and-theft). One after another accepted the selection, with a solitary perfunctory theft by Chay, a surprisingly honest departure from recent years. Even only-child-it’s-about-me Judy settled in after an early pick. Between the blabbermouths, the need to explain, self-revealing commentary, most of us knew who had brought which gifts before the selection. This prompted proposed rules for next year, and I think someone appointed Mike chair of that committee.
               In between all of this were a tumble of innuendos, and ....
              Finally we retraced our tracks to dessert and coffee and tea, awaiting the desserts Deb had concocted this year. Again, Deb prepared desserts that will stay in memory for years. Personally, the chocolate was the highlight of the meal, with a Ganache so dense and hard (too long outside) that I had to hold the cake holder so Deb could cut it. A second piece almost finished me off! Deb T found some real nutmeg at a Shaker fair and presented each couple a small bag, generating some less-than-culinary comments! (Kriss, where were you?!)
              Other notes: Again, the Karnes presented table favors, this time of Santa figurines and a candle and candle holder.  We did without the poppers and without the hats that Tim usually manages to tear before encasing his head. The appetizers were less plentiful this year and although we certainly enjoyed them, the lesser amount allowed us to enjoy the entrée more fully.
              Finally, eleven-ish, we moved to the darkness and home, with the Teators climbing down the hill that Don could not drive up. Another year’s highlight has come and gone, and all of us attest to the generosity and fine hosting of Tom and Deb. The highest compliments and a special thank you go to you both. The evening, in so many ways, symbolizes the camaraderie and friendship we share.