Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ho, ho, humbug!

Happy Holidaze to all:

I've been working up to my Christmas letter for this year, by fits and starts.

I started some things but found out they didn't fit.

Such as:

Imagine, you find yourself in a place where magical, non-union elves toil ceaselessly for12 months a year, just to satisfy the egomaniacal, self-aggrandizing, paternalistic impulses of an overweight and jolly (but he's crying inside) workaholic who spends HIS time keeping tabs on billions of little children, violating their Constitutional rights as casually as he flogs his overburdened and underfed (you don't think they're tiny just because of some genetic malfunction, do you? C'mon, how long you been out of school? Wake up and smell the balsam!) beasts of burden the endangered North Slope caribou. Hell, I suppose we should be grateful that at least a certain "outdoorswoman" hasn't just whacked 'em with her Bushmaster, from a low-flying helicopter. "He know's if you are sleeping, he knows if you're awake; he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!"? Our children is already having enough trouble learning without they gotta worry about bein' spied on by "Big Father Christmas", this affront to our 4th amendment rights...Yeah, that wasn't going to end well.

Then I was thinking about the movie "A Christimas Story", a perennial favorite since shortly after it tanked in the theaters back in 1983 and caused the recession that began in 1982. The movie has nearly everything a good ol' redblooded american--like, well, somebody besides me—would like.

Anyway, it's a great storyline. Young boy gets his ass kicked by bullies on a regular basis, has a crazy dad and ditz for a mom. The only objet d'art in the house is a lamp that's shaped like a lady's nylon clad leg (it sorta reminds me of the Guinness logo--I can't imagine why). The kid's only friends are even bigger looozerz than him and his little brother is headed for a bad end. With alla this stuff going on, the only thing our hero, Ralphie (it'll have to be "Rafe" in the remake) can get his head wrapped around is that he wants, no he craves and he GOTZ to have, a genuine Red Ryder BB gun to make him a MAN! Yowsuh!! Well, I ask you, is that lame or is that like just plain "teh HALT"? I mean , fer cryin out loud, a BB GUN. Nah, what this kid should be finding under the Christmas Tree is a .50 Cal. Barrett MRAD with the BORS integrated optics and ballistic computer. With that puppy he can take out Scut Farkas and his toady, Grover Dill--if they will simply stand in line-- with one well placed shot...hmmm, there seems to be some sort of a "trend" here.

Okay, so, once more into the breach.

Rudolph the rednosed reindeer was pretty much "the black elk" of his family. He never got invited to play the other reindeers' games. He performed beneath expectations in his lessons for “Spreading Christmas Cheer”, rooftop landings and “in flight incontinence”. An early and devastating “jones” for the hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) -- the one with the white-spotted red cap that garden gnomes like to sit on* made him prone to flights of fancy. He had a honkin' schnozzola and looked like ye compleat dork whenever he got put in harness. Rudolph was pretty much reduced to being the butt of jokes (among them, a sign slapped on his withers that said, "Quirt me! ") by the varsity reindeer and hauling carts full of crap from one workshop to another while listening to the chief elf give him grief. It wasn't that he was lazy or stupid, it was more about being an "out", in a world of "ins"--hey, that's the way the snowman melts!

So, along comes Christmas Eve, a Christmas Eve like all the others when the A-Team goes out and hauls the swag for the fat man and then gets to spend the next month at an all inclusive stable in Southern Cali, lollin’ on the beach, chasin' the does, lappin’ up the cerveza and hangin' with the Claus.

But, this particular Christmas Eve was different. It was stormin' and foggy, visibilty was zero and the Santageeze was frettin' cuz he had signed some contracts with "performance guarantees" and it looked like he was gonna lose his shirt.

Rudolph was mopin' around his crib, playing with his Xb0x (“Wolf Whacker—The Reindeers’ Revenge) when all of a sudden the door flew open and the Boss stormed in. He said, "Rudolph, I'm told you can navigate in this crap--is that the straight skinny?". "Well," said Rudolph, "I might be able to, what's in it for me?". Claus thought about it for a moment and said. "Get me through this delivery situation and you can go on the "retreat" with the rest of the guys.". Rudolph pressed his advantage and said, "Okay--and I want you to fly in that hot little doe that was Bambi's BFF friend before he got whacked by that poacher.". "Done and done" said his Crimson Corpulence, "Now c’mon, son—lets fly!". As the bewhiskered one ran out to the sleigh, Rudolph took out his new I-Phone, looked it right in its touchpad, and said, "Your battery AND that navaids app, better last, or we're toast, hombre!"…

I think next year I'm gonna have to get the Coen Brothers to help me out; this storyizin' is hard work!

Hey, who likes cheesecake? Yeah, me too, here's a couplea recipes (sort of).

Chocolate cheesecake:
Crust :

6 oz Graham Crackers
4 oz Chocolate morsels or shaved chocolate
½ tsp Cinnamon
2 Tsp Butter (melted)
Break crackers into small pieces, place in bowl of food processor. Add chocolate morsels, sugar and melted butter. Pulse all ingredients in food processor until the mixture is like coarse, damp sand. Pat into even thickness in 9" springform or other pan (On pan substituions, you do the math, it's not my strong suit). Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, remove and set aside.

Filling:

1 ½ lbs Cream Cheese
¼ pt Heavy Cream
6 oz Good quality chocolate
3 ea Eggs
½ cup Sugar
2 oz GOOD Rum (dark or blonde)**
1 tsp Allspice

Pour cream into heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat until near boiling. Add chocolate (shaved or grated) to hot cream, stirring until smooth consistency is reached.

Put one pound of the cream cheese in bowl of food processor, pour hot cream/chocolate mixture over cheese and pulse until smooth consistency is reached, add remaining ½ pound of cream cheese and then three eggs, one at a time, along with rum and allspice. Allow food processor to run until all ingredients are well and uniformly mixed.
Pour cheesecake mixture into pan with pre-baked shell, pick up pan and tap on counter to level mixture (it should be fairly stiff, but not such that it won’t self level this way) and place in 350 degree oven. Bake until instant reading thermomter reaches 160 degrees (eggs will be cooked at that point). Depending on how “stiff” you like your cheesecake you may want to bake it for about 15 minutes longer. I find that it usually sets up pretty nicely if it is refrigerated for several hours.

Pumpkin Cheese cake:

I use the same chocolate crust for this. Chocolate and pumpkin are like chocolate and peanut better—only more betterer.

Filling:

1 ½ lbs Cream Cheese
¼ pt Heavy Cream
1 can Solid pack pumpkin (not that sweetened “pie filling” glop)
3 ea Eggs
2 Tbs Rum (as for chocolate cheesecake recipe)
1  tsp Pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, I think)
¾ cup Sugar

As for chocolate cheesecake, heat cream in heavy bottomed saucepan, add pumpkin, stir to thoroughly combine ingredients. Use same steps, as for chocolate cheesecake mixture, to combine and blend remaining ingredients into a smooth and even consistency.

As for the chocolate cheesecake, bake in 350 degree oven and, again, insure internal temperature of at least 160 degrees is reached before removing from oven.

Either of these cheesecakes is enhanced by serving with a hard sauce, raspberry for the chocolate and fig or fig and chocolate for the pumpkin.

* Hat tip to Mr. Michael Heath for his research and publication of this information.
** Rum may be omitted. If it is omitted, use at least one teaspoon of vanilla in its place. If you decide not to use the rum (Flor de Cana, 7 Year Old is an excellent choice) buy it anyway and send it to me—no, better idea, send me $35 and I’ll buy it myself. See, it’s win/win!!

The real news for this past year is that it was great to see many friends and relatives at family events and while visiting their homes. As for MY home; Tim Anderson asked me in a recent e-mail if I had before/after photos of the house. I replied that I only had before/during photos as I have not yet reached the “after”—and I’m not sure I ever will, c’est la construction.

I’m pretty happy, and I hope all of you are as well. Life has some ups and downs, the trick is to ride them both out and remain on as even a keel as possible—something I hope to learn to do sometime soon! I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a stupendous 2011.

Peace and Love, from your favorite dope.

Terry