Holidays!

Warning: this post is mostly about food.

Phil and I knew that this holiday would be different, not only because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but also because we’d be spending it in Savannah, where we knew no one. I asked our kids for suggestions on how to make a stay-at-home-alone holiday special, and they had advice. “We do a lot of planning–the food, the games we’ll play, the movies we’ll watch–and that leads to a special celebration,” our daughter explained. She should know, as she and her husband live in Europe and have often created solo celebrations. Our son had similar advice, sharing his plans to be at home with his wife, smoking meats, watching movies, and hanging out in the jacuzzi.

So after Thanksgiving we began discussing what we could to do make Christmas and New Year’s special, with just the two of us in an AirBnb, with no tree or decorations or family or friends. Food would, of course, be a major component. Phil wanted a traditional turkey dinner, and for Christmas Eve I wanted a cocktail party. Meanwhile we were eagerly exploring our temporary home and taking in the holiday sights.

Anticipating that high-end hotels would have beautiful decorations, I dragged Phil through every one I could find, both in Savannah and in Charleston. Christmas trees abounded! The most astonishing thing we saw in a hotel, though, was a display of gorgeous gingerbread houses. We were amazed by the intricate detailing, colors, and realistic resemblance to actual houses. I can’t imagine having the patience, much less the talent, to create such a masterpiece.

We try to get out every day just to walk around Savannah and enjoy this beautiful city. With its parks and squares, it rivals Paris as the most beautiful city we’ve ever seen. Everything was decorated! We saw a bronze turtle wearing a Santa hat, decorated monuments, and even decorated trash cans!

Along with all this holiday spirit, we of course had to plan a special cocktail for our holiday. Phil made a delicious take on a cosmopolitan–very similar, but less sweet. The trial run was successful, so we proceeded to the menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.

How to make a cocktail party for two? Fortunately, having hors d’oeuvres for dinner is something we do regularly. For this feast, we decided on a mix of traditional (queso with ground bison, crudites, hot artichoke dip) and new (martini deviled eggs!). At the farmer’s market I’d found lion’s mane mushrooms, which I’d never seen before, as well as a creamy lemon goat cheese. Voila! With some shallots, a little puff pastry, and some Savannah peach jam, I was able to make a tasty appetizer. We had a lovely evening, watching holiday movies, enjoying our cocktails, and planning for our family video call the next day.

Our Christmas day breakfast is always the same: my mother’s Christmas tree coffee cake, sausages, and soft scrambled eggs. That tided us over until evening, when we had the traditional turkey feast. We ate leftovers for days!

I love to cook, and one of the fun games of Roaming is to figure out how to turn out good meals in all sorts of kitchens. For the holidays, we bought a couple of disposable roasting pans to augment the limited cooking vessels in our AirBnb. We learned to use washcloths as napkins (I abhor paper napkins–terrible for the environment!), and to roll out dough I remove the label from a wine bottle and use the bottle as a rolling pin.

Our repast included roast turkey, my mother’s dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, made-from-scratch green bean casserole, and my Gaga’s cranberry-orange salad. Oh, and homemade rolls. There was no muffin tin, so they were free-form. As my daddy used to say when something didn’t turn out looking very nice, “But it’ll eat good!”

New Year’s eve was a quiet evening at home, with another special meal: locally-raised bone-in pork chops au poivre, roasted sweet potatoes with more of that lemony creamy goat cheese, and crispy brussels sprouts with local bacon and dried cherries.

So we entered 2021 well-fed and content. Now, on to the new year! My word for 2021 is ADVENTURE.

An elegant Savannah doorway

One of the dozens of hotel trees we saw

Can you believe this is a gingerbread house?!

We spotted this guy on one of our walks.

Even the trash cans are decorated!

Christmas Eve cocktail party for two

Phil’s Christmas dinner plate