Christmas @ Karnes 2010 -- year 8


Hors d’oeuvres

  • sausage-cheese-Bisquick balls
  • goat-cheese logs, encrusted with dried cranberries and pistachios
  • spicy dark brown mustard/mayonnaise spread
  • slices of celery and carrots
  • crackers


  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale – an Evans growler-full
  • Catena Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzi
  • Trumpeter Malbec
  • Beringer White Zinfandel
  • Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Freixenet Negro Cordon (to accompany the red raspberries)


  • a Wood Mill 15” bowl full of spring-spinach mix; mingled with  shreds and thin slices of carrot, Roma tomato slices, mushroom chunks, halved red seedless grapes; topped with single rings of orange and grapefruit sections; finished with a smattering of chopped walnuts (Teator)


  • another, even more classic, Deb Karnes’ smooth and silky lime sorbet


  • Strip steak encrusted with peppercorns – two steaks, one well, one medium-rare, 9 lbs worth
  • Bread pudding, with sweet potatoes and parsnips
  • Aunt Bel’s corn pudding (Adams) – a favored side dish
  • Roadside potatoes (a Karnes family recipe) – grated potatoes, cheese, onion combo
  • Bowls of cranberry sauce and horseradish sauce
  • Cheese straws


  • a Bella Napoli two-layer rich and smooth chocolate cake with Italian chocolate topping, sugary vanilla mid-layer, sprinkle encrusted sides, surrounded by Italian cookies (Monteverd)
  • crème brûlée tart, slaved over by Deb K for hours – the smoothest of custards, in a prepared shell – with ample sprinklings of whole raspberries and blackberries

First, a thank you, with much appreciation, goes to Chay and Deb, from all of us for an event, never taken for granted but savored with anticipation, that anticipation waxing as that evening draws nigh. Your hosting of this event is one of the highlights of our year, culinary and otherwise.

Strings of white lights draping the larger trees, complemented by the blue lights on the small evergreen, pierced the night sky, initiating the Christmas mood. No snow covered the ground, a rarity for the greater Freehold area. (The 1.36 inches of dustings accumulated so far have all evaporated.)
              Krypton greeted us from his pad; ill health made a personal greeting too difficult. Kiki, surprisingly, showed up periodically throughout the evening, and Katy probably would have, too, if she had not been accidentally locked upstairs.
              Upon entering just after 6 p.m., coats were gathered, greetings given, Chay efficiently fulfilled our drinking preferences, and we gathered around the magnet that is the kitchen island, not just because it is comfortable but also because the hors d’oeuvres beckoned from there.
              We chatted, sat for salad about 7:15, and enacted the preliminaries. We oohed and ahhed over the details that Deb and Chay prepared. Favors included a season’s greetings tree ornament, a square of dark chocolate with a sugar candy attached and with each person’s name scrawled in icing on the back, a manicure-set for the women, and a soft figurine tree ornament for the men. (Ken’s ornament, just coincidentally was named Ho, Ho, an evening’s motif.)
              Then we popped the party poppers, donned our paper hats to be photographed, threw the confetti contained therein, and took turns reading the corny, but anticipated, riddles.
              A Christmas-y green cloth overspread the table, with place settings, water glasses, several red candles, and wooden hot plates already in place.
              The intermezzo was a chance to try one of our favorite sorbets, soon to be followed by the parade of main course dishes. Deb & Chay had prepared two separate roasts to accommodate the spectrum of tastes. The side dishes were a combination of old favorites (corn pudding), and the new-to-most-of-us (bread pudding, roadside potatoes). A major strand of conversation was about traveling, and, in particular, the Adamses’ Danube cruise.
              The table was partially cleared, but we were, once again, too full to attempt dessert, so off to the living room we lumbered, where Santa’s gift exchange-and-theft was to be consummated. We drew lots in order of age, and thence started.
              Gifts included a wireless thermometer, a two-storied birdhouse birdfeeder, a metal wine rack with a bottle of red, a large red bowl with plate combo, a set of four hand-painted Santa wine glasses, a mini-tool set and car-connected air pump, a Hungarian linen table runner & a carved star ornament, and a fire pit kettle grill. Along the way, Ken stole the wireless thermometer from Kriss (!) to make sure she didn’t give it away; Don stole the birdfeeder; Chay light-fingered the glasses; and in an act of classic humanitarianism (or, guilt), Kriss, with the last chance to steal, declined to do so. No one had his/her heart broken, and we seemed satisfied with the loot left at our feet.
              Back to the table for the final course. Ken’s commodious mug, in use since the evening’s beginning, was a magnet for warnings about spilling coffee, even though he claimed innocence, and we watched with intent eyes as the desserts arrived. Deb had threatened us to praise and commend her efforts and quality of the tart, but threats were not needed. And the cake fulfilled every chocolate lover’s craving.
              Discussion topics ranged the gamut – from well wishes for all our welfare, to the giggly, to the profane and obscene. And, Kriss pretended to not notice the worst of it, and possibly tee-heed through some of it. “...” was liberally incanted a couple dozen times, usually at Judy who had given Ken a dose of his ‘sign’ while ‘...’ was flung a few times in self-defense. And this is a DP8 Christmas!
              Other topics included: Krypton, the Romalins (who missed their first DP8 Christmas), snow days, stories of discipline woes at Hudson, the Teator Christmas the week before, happenings in DC, ..., cold but dry weather, neighbor Nick, completion (or lack thereof) of Christmas shopping, upcoming retirement decisions, a 50-something birthday party, the next day’s event at the Freehold Pub, new eateries in the area (Saloon, Castle Tower), ..., sign language and fingers, dates and locations for the next few dp8 events, blue Christmas lights, someone wearing a tutu that became a ‘four-four,’ our three moms still alive, New Year’s Eve and Day, and more. The largest single topic ... was a recounting of Tim and Judy’s ten days on the Danube (Passau to Budapest) and in Budapest.
              Nearing 11:30, an awareness of lateness hit, clean-up started (but not finished), we collected our belongings, and departed to cold car, cold December air, and warm house.

            Chay and Deb, such friendship and hospitality is treasured. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
            Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, to all.