Happy Boxing Day !!

 

Christmas 2014 dinner table

 

HAPPY BOXING DAY TO ALL !!

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday season thus far.  Whatever occasion you celebrate, in what fashion and with whom, I hope your blessings were multiple and you were gifted with a few ‘stolen’ moments to reflect upon what this time of year truly means to you.

With the relentless barrage of ‘Cyber Mondays’, ‘Black Fridays’ , ‘Blue Tuesdays’  etc., it’s nigh impossible to escape feeling a little worn down by all the retail pressure, hype and stress attendant to the last 2 1/2 months of the calendar year.

 

 

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A Bergdorf window inspired by Literature.

 

Come every Autumn, somber faced, buckle shoed pilgrims of Thanksgiving Past spar in vain with the mighty ghouls & goblins of Halloween Present, the high hatted elder’s gourds no match for the glo-stick laser swords of today’s trick or treaters.

It seems just a scant two seconds later, the omnipotent present day commercialisation of Christmas is flinging all the other holidays aside like The Hulk stomping his way through a pop-up perfume kiosk. Where did the baby Jesus go? Does anyone remember swaddling or Frankincense??

 

 

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By December 26th we’re left laying dazed and confused in a crushed pile of mylar wrapping paper, bandaged fingers throbbing from doing battle with unwieldy packaging.

But I won’t go on about this. I’m no stranger to shopping and certainly not one to throw stones at glass houses (or shop windows)  I delight in retail sport as much as anyone who appreciates beautiful things. I love fashion, furnishings, items for the home…books, kitchen and tech-y gadgets. Don’t even get me started on shoes & bags (hello, I have a pulse)  But I guess the confluence of shifting priorities, our boys  being adults now and the preposterous rise of retail bombardment has left me increasingly spent (no pun intended) as the years go by.

 

 

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A tasteful (of course) window at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC this Christmas.

 

I actually did have every intention of posting one or two Holiday Shopping Guides this month, but there was such an incredible plethora in the blogosphere already that I didn’t feel I had anything of great merit to add.

I might have proposed just a few books I didn’t see mentioned, or perhaps the electric foot warmer my husband bought me earlier this year… it stays between the mattress and fitted sheet and is just about the best freaking gift ever for popsicle toed people like me, but where’s the rule saying I can’t dole these suggestions out over the new year?!

 

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Anyway, the month shot by in the blink of an eye. In part because we took a quick trip to NYC to see our older son. This year is the first we weren’t able to spend Christmas  together. I sulked for about 2 seconds, until I thought of all the thousands of families with loved ones away from home because they’re serving to keep us and our country safe and that shut me up pretty quickly. Insert red cheeked emoji here. Once again, if you are one of those families, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

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On the way back from NY,  we made a very brief stop in New Orleans. Just enough time to drive around the Garden District for a few hours and snap some pics of the holiday decorations there. Oh…those houses… sigh.

 

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Apologies to those who have already seen a few of these photos on my Instagram feed (which FYI, I am definitely cheating on my blog with-it had to happen sooner or later 🙁   It’s just too easy and so tempting ! )

 

 

 

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Back on the Santa Barbara home front, having both my siblings from Canada able to join us this year made our  parents very happy. And even if the hearing is no longer so great ;

“Joe Cocker died, Dad”

“JIM COKER?? NEVER HEARD OF HIM”

“No, dad, JOE COCKER. So sad. He died of lung cancer”

“HE WAS BORN IN MANCHESTER??? STILL NEVER HEARD OF HIM”

It’s a blessing to be 84 and still enjoy playing chess with your son while your daughters prattle away about skin care regimens and old love affairs in the background.

 

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I forgot about the ‘Less is More’ edict I so cavalierly promised to adhere to for my next holiday table and mixed the black lacquer I bought in Burma earlier this year with my vintage cranberry glass and, well, things sort of escalated from there.

 

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I will embrace the spartan table setting one of these days. But, probably never at Christmas.

 

890A4539 cooking goose

 

 

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, The Incident of The Goose in the Night was well under way.

Why a goose, instead of a turkey, or prime rib, or even a simple but succulent ham??

 

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IMG_6691baked ham

 

Indeed, she says, casting  longing glances at the Hamness Perfection of her Thanksgiving ham  (don’t look at my dirty roasting pan)

 

Well. Seriously, who knew, first of all, that goose is a red meat?? As Thanksgiving so eloquently put it moments ago, WTF??! Isn’t goose poultry? And when I say ‘red meat’ I don’t mean like a duck. Not brown. RED.  With a lot of red blood. And apparently slow cooking is the most important aspect of cooking goose in order for it to lose most of the fat but retain the moisture. And parts need to be removed before other parts and, and, and. All the men were getting cranky. Yet another chess game ensued, a bottle of wine was opened and the new thermometer would not budge off celsius. Apparently thought it was a Canadian goose.

How many sisters, thermometers, iPhone farenheit conversion apps and bottles of wine does it take to cook a goose?

OMG.

 

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Finally, my goose was cooked.

It looks pretty good, right?

But looks, as we all know, can be deceiving. It was TERRIBLE. Only my sister and I ate any at all. (Thank you wine 😉  )

Thank goodness we had great side dishes and leftovers from the night before. Live and learn.  Duck, duck, no goose.

 

 

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Still and all, it was fun and we will no doubt find it even funnier next year, God willing, when we are sitting in front of a nice, big brown turkey!

 

How was your Christmas?! I’ve missed you all!!

 

 

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xoxo SP

~

 One year ago

~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

81 Comments

  1. You don’t have to live by a retail calendar. You could try the 12 days of Christmas…or good deeds all year long instead of superficial pleasures.

  2. Well, we had ham–it was good and EASY with raisin/pineapple chutney! Have been missing your posts. Glad to see that we, your loyal followers, are not forgotten. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Blackeyed Peas and Ham Hocks for us!. xoxo Mary

  3. Slim, love your post. I have always wanted to attempt a goose for the holidays, but have chickened out at the last minute! You have convinced me to let go of that idea. Your pictures of New Orleans were beautiful, it’s one of my favorite cities. Wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year.

  4. What a great entry! Like a fabulous Christmas stocking chock-a-block with all sorts of goodies! And did I mention hilarious throughout! Happy Holidays, Slim!

  5. I can not stop laughing , seriously . a Christmas to remember for sure , just to read your blog. and enjoy your stunning dinner table is enough , oh yes and the vino. !!!
    Happy New Year to you and yours . xo.

  6. So pleased to have found your Facebook page. Enjoy your writing style and photos. You and Dennis must have made terrific parents.

  7. I loved your story! I too once cooked a goose and for a large Christmas dinner. It was awful!!!! So never again. I stick to a standing rib roast!
    Happy New Yearl

  8. Dear Slim Paley
    All your posts are a great joy to the eyes and imagination
    Every good wish to you and your family for a wonderful and healthy new year

  9. Another great post! Every year, the volunteer firemen here (husband and son included) are called to one of the neighbors house as a result of an oven fire when they tried to cook a goose. Every year. So I’m with you – no goose, please! We’ve always had a prime rib dinner for Christmas anyway, so we’re safe here. A very merry to you and yours, and a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

    • If it had brought some cute volunteer firemen here it might have been worth it! (just kidding…kind of)
      A very Happy & Healthy New Year to you and your family too Stephanie!

  10. Just wondering what size and color lights are on your tree? Very nice!
    Sorry about the Goose! Someone made us a wonderful English/Nova Scotian
    dinner complete with turnips.

    • We did a small tree for a change and again broke with tradition by putting it in our dining room instead of the living room. I still used our usual orange flicker lights, and vintage decorations, but passed on doing the dried orange slices as I didn’t have enough time for the Full Monty this year 😉

  11. We had a 2 year old in a cow suit running all around the Cathedral during Christmas Eve services – pageant for the children. It was adorable, and I hope someone got pictures. He was a busy boy. Mary couldn’t keep her blue chiffon scarf on, and the baby cried this year. But the sheep, cows, and rooster were outstanding. Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, Oregon.

  12. You are an exceptionally talented writer. This is a beautiful composition that stirs my heart. Several years ago the message rang loud and clear that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but as you stated, “does anyone remember….”. I also remember there was no room in the inn for baby Jesus, hopefully, there is room in our hearts for Him. Thanks for giving Him praise.

  13. Happy Holidays, Slim! This post was perfectly you with all the “cooked my goose” sayings you layered in there so cleverly. And you are so clever! I went the easy route this year and did the baked ham…it’s all about the ham, ’bout the ham, no turkey! 🙂
    But gosh golly gee, I agree that a second bottle of wine will guarantee no one remembering they ate leftovers. Your table and tree were gorgeous, as usual.
    cheers!

  14. Slim, Loved this! I was laughing out loud at the Joe Coker thing. This was how some of our family conversations went as well. Good for you for at least trying a goose! It’s too funny. Your gorgeous table made up for it all! I know what you mean about the Instagram thing. I’ve been doing a lot of the same sharing what I love and would normally put on the blog. It is so convenient! It’s made me lazy…Hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas! I missed your blog. x Kim

    • Thank you Kim! I hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas as well.
      No doubt this is how family conversations just start to go after a ‘certain age’ but it’s a blessing to still be having them. 🙂

  15. Made a fatal mistake…Had 2 Christmas dinners…the second one…served tamales knowing a wonderful Latino boyfriend of a guest would be included. I definitely did not think that one through as he proceeded to tell me he’d bring us some ‘great’ ones made by his sisters, aunts and step-mom who do the familial-tamale-whole-day-assembly-line rigamarole. Ours were mediocre at best. Better luck to us all, next time.
    .

    • Tried the tamale thing once too-ugh. Dried up and terrible. Never again.
      I’ll be back to Yorkshire puddings, bread sauce, and all my usual standards next year.

  16. Hilarious! Very courageous of you to attempt “Goose”!!

    My darling husband, Adam, was in the “Poultry business” (his grandfather started the commercial poultry business on the West Coast) in around 1899 or so.

    Anyway; he told me early on……..”never try to cook a goose! there is a very good reason there are no geese in the market at Thanksgiving!”

    HA! Where on earth did you find that goose?

    A great story…..I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything! I have taught my daughters….

    “Turn all of your experiences into ‘good stories’…..and you will ‘dine out’ for the rest of your life upon them!!!”

    You are the perfect example!

    The other “secret” is the “fun factor”!!!

    Have fun! If you are cooking a goose…….and it isn’t going well…..HAVE FUN WITH IT!! And any other thing that is a challenge in life! Find the “fun”!!!

    (my cousin was Julia Child…..she wrote the book on fun!) It is the secret to life happiness!!

    XXOO

    Penny

    • I love “Find the Fun” Penelope. I will add it to my New Year’s repertoire !
      We found the goose from a very good, strictly organic butcher from NY and had it shipped. And may I say a goose is not a cheap date. One of the worst parts? No leftovers for the next day.
      Oh well, Live and learn…and find the fun!!
      Happy New Year to you!

  17. Actually…..if you can believe it….I have one more thing to say!

    It is a good thing your kitchen did not catch on fire. That happens often when a goose is cooked in an oven inside of a house!

    Lucky you!!!

    Penny

    • You, Slim, are FUN!! All Capital letters! that is the reason we ALL LOVE YOUR WONDERFUL BLOG!!!

      Keep it up! I love spreading around FUN in the world! We all need more of it!!

      XXOO

      Happy new year!

      And the geese can run free!!

      tee hee!!!

      XXOOXX!!!!

  18. We have always had a goose for Christmas. My parents were German and that was what we ate. The price of goose and the amount of fat in my kitchen has led me to try some thing for next year. it is time for some thing new next year.

    • The organic goose we purchased was really not that fatty- I was shocked when I read afterwards how fatty they are supposed to be. I will definitely NOT be trying something new next year- at least not in the Christmas dinner dept.!

  19. I’ve missed you Slimmy!!! We did our normal Beef Wellington, but this year I used OMG this wonderful Black Truffle pate. It was so delicious! I also added some parmesan crusted potatoes. Family, friends and the wonder of children who really got in to Santa. It was beautiful! So glad it’s over, however. I’m increasingly getting so sick and tired of the retail mania surrounding Christmas. xxxooo
    kb

    • Thanks Kendall! We received a gift basket that included Black truffle pate. I popped the jar just to smell it (divine!) so I suppose I must use it very quickly now it’s been opened. I don’t think I’m brave enough to attempt Beef Wellington though. I’m afraid I’d overcook the beef. Plus, I can’t make pastry.
      Happy New Year to you and your family!

  20. It was just me this year. I bought a tiny end piece of prime rib. The guy waiting on me started to reach for a boneless hunk when I interrupted him with a , “Uh, no, bone-in, please.” That made him happy. A real chef taught me how to cook a prime rib with the exception of what vessel to use. I had a six quart LeCreuset covered oval I wanted to try. After the 15 minutes at 475 or so, I pulled the oven rack out to baste the beast and turn the heat down. I hadn’t touched anything yet when I heard a loud crack. My beautiful LeCreuset bit the dust. I have a photograph of it. I switched it to an enameled cast iron dutch oven and controlled the emotions. No tears. I’m proud of that. It was a delicious feast for one.

    I sure have been missing the blog, Slim. It’s beautiful, as always.

  21. Happy Boxing Day, Slim! Thank you for this post – now I will share it with my men who seem to think cooking a goose would be a wonderful idea. Of course, they just eat and don’t cook at all and I have been resisting. This will be required reading for them. And they’ll have to read Penny’s comments, too 🙂

    We were just the four of us with a delicious beef tenderloin and a yummy bottle of Newton red wine. The favorite dish of the meal (for the men) was the 4 layer chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling requested by my 18 year old chocoholic. Mine was having both boys home and the Newton….:)

    Have a very happy New Year! So good to hear from you again.

    Susan

  22. Eh voila, there you are (Yes, yes, I have been elicit to your cheating on instagram but I won’t tell)! Can I begin to tell you how happy I was when we found a turkey to cook for Christmas for the first time in the thirteen years of my having lived in France? Frickin’ relief was more like it as that meant…no goose! Hooray!!! Because honestly, even if your French honey cooks it perfectly (and he does, taught by his Great-Grandmother from Burgundy), let me tell you that it gets really old after say six meals of it when there are only two people eating…Hopefully, you and your Sister did the right thing and laid that goose to rest… 🙂

    I loved this post, as always. And am jumping the gun a bit but will go ahead and send Wishes for a Healthy and Adventure-filled New Year for you and yours. Thank you so much for all of the laughter and inspiration you have given me in 2014.

    • Thank you Heather, and the same to you.
      I love hearing from you and imagining how different your setting is, there in Arles, as we move through the year. Your photos (and your French Honey’s of course 😉 ) are always so serene and beautiful.
      Merci a vous aussi

  23. Happy Holidays Slim! I loved reading this post.
    Your comments about consuming are ringing true and I wonder if it is because we are so bombarded by advertising? Holidays are more about the food, friends and family aren’t they? Those memories we create every year….like your goose!
    Your table looks wonderful and the cranberry glass with those pomegranates and the cloth are gorgeous…a feast for the eyes. Best wishes for the New Year.

    • Thank you Hostess.
      I am going to attempt to approach the holidays (gift wise) in a different fashion next year (stay tuned!)
      Best wishes for the New Year to you and yours as well.

  24. Glad you’re back posting! I am going to New Orleans for the first time next month. Any suggestions on what to see and what I should miss? Thank you!!

  25. Dear Slim, a goose has never been my forte, give me almost any other meat or fowl to cook or eat as far as that goes!!

    Your table looks amazing though!!
    All the best in the New Year ahead!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Art by Karena

  26. Both our grown children, who were here for Christmas with their significant others, are vegans! Talk about taking the stuffing out of Christmas dinner! But we ended up having a grand time. Everyone tried out his or her new or favorite vegan recipe, my husband smoked a tiny turkey breast for the two of us and we had a wonderful time. Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

  27. I’ve missed the blog, and this one is delightful as always. It’s like opening a present.
    Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

  28. THANK YOU for saying what I’ve been feeling about the holidays and retail. It is too much, even for those of us who have no aversion to retail generally. Also that you for making a goose so that I don’t have to — pheasant is and will remain as far as I’ve gone.

    Beautiful holiday inspiration regardless, and a great reminder that savoring and laughing can be the best parts of the season, period.

    xx

  29. Slim….as always, your post made me smile. Great wit and style. I couldn’t help but notice the paisley fabric on your table….it’s always been a favorite of mine and I used to find it at the Fonthill Showroom in LA but no longer….are you still able to find it ?
    Thank you Mary Goldenberg

    • Thank you Mary.
      The paisley is a huge antique textile from India. I use it on the table very rarely and I’m very careful with candles around it 🙂

  30. So happy to read your post. I was going through Slim withdrawal! Only you can express your holiday with such sincere warmth, humility and eloquence. Your tree and dinner table looked exquisite. I hope you, your husband and family have a wonderful New Year!

  31. Missed you too, Slim! I had a quiet Christmas, with just my husband and mom. I am glad to see that you had a fabulous Christmas!

  32. The commercialism just overwhelms and takes what magic there is, right out of Christmas. I bought very few gifts and left it until very late, hoping the spirit would move me. It didn’t.
    Our daughter wasn’t home this year and it felt sad. We lost one side of the family to squabbles, so they didn’t come, husband got the flu, grandson was sick…Oy!
    Bring on the New Year, cause baby I’m ready!

    It always feels like a happy gift to see a new post from you in my email! Thank you!
    Your Goose story is priceless. What a supportive sister you have:)

    Everything looks simply gorgeous!! I’m so glad to see you back!! I’ve missed you!!

    • Thank you Jennifer! It’s nice to BE back. I really did miss writing. I’m so sorry your Christmas was a let down. Onward and upward…NEXT !
      Happy New Year!

  33. Oh, how I reminisce reading your “ventures!” We raised geese on our farm…my mother (91) always roasted goose for Christmas…until, my father ..uuuuh, unfortunately…got the old gander (I think…in error) Have you ever smelled…or worse…tasted a “burning tire??” Anything but (goose) ever after!! franki

  34. This is a wonderfully reassuring post about where so many of us find ourselves in life. A snifter clink to the commercialization of Christmas, hearing loss, transition, older children (men and women, now) and the poorly cooked goose! All this and more made our simple, quiet Christmas meaningful because we lived it in gratitude, tearful happiness, fun and love of family . All those traditional ‘side dishes’ Slim. A snifter clink, Just because all those irritations and more made it so!

  35. Lovely pictures and I giggled at the goose story! It looks like you had quite the feast as well, totally jealous! Keep up your awesome work and try to relax a bit after that avalanche of November and December.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

  36. I’ve never eaten goose from all the comments I understand why .

    Had a cold christmas lunch with friends and then scoffed the full on Christmas pudding with brandy butter, took me a couple of days to get over that ! late afternoon there was a fierce sub tropical downpour, Sydney does them so well !

    All the best for 2015 !!

  37. Oh wow, you replied to everyone. I love the interwebs. I just have to tell a story of something incredible (at least to me it was) that happened, interwebs related. I was binge watching American Experience The Presidents yesterday. It was Ronald Reagan’s turn and Patti Davis his daughter’s remarks were interspersed throughout. I read her expose years ago and have always remembered it. I had a chaotic childhood, too and she and I are the same age, so I really related to her.
    So, I gave it a shot and searched for her on facebook and there she was and we have four friends in common, so any message I sent her wouldn’t end up in the great abyss. I told her what I’d been watching, that I’d read her book and had found it to be compelling.
    Guess what? She messaged me right back! She told me she regretted writing that book because not all truths need to be told. I told her I understand about regret, but that her love for her parents came through. She thanked me and told me it was good to hear! She also recommended a couple of her other books on Amazon. And like someone or other says, “Coffee is for closers.”
    Your responding to everyone (I know you don’t always do it) inspired me to tell this story. It’s incredible what social media is capable of, these days. Okay. That’s it. Thanks again for saying hi to us all. Happy New Year and I hope your shoulder’s doing okay. Patti Davis, wow.

  38. One Mother had Chicken and Noodles, with no chicken – just Samson Canned Chicken Broth, fresh corn, and no cooked meat at all; except for good pepperoni from the deli tray, that was put together by a nice Auntie. Then, Chili Soup with Bologna and Gouda cheese slices on the side. No wine, just Beer please 🙂 The Italian family had the Meatballs, s’ghetti & Italian olives. Family laughter, great deserts, and forgiveness were the holiday fare. The next-door neighbors” outdoor light show consisted of:
    blow-up Christmas dolls, like SNOWMEN, Teddy Bears.
    surrounding their best to last outdoor décor which was –
    A beautiful BABY JESUS in a manger (which was currently replaced) from a Small-town vagrant stealing the Baby Jesus – the week before Christmas) with a great Star shining on the Holy Family in a Manger, Merry Christmas to you SP and your familigia.

  39. First, let me say thank you for your lovely blog. Years ago, I too, had a Christmas goose “incident.” Having always found the idea of a Christmas goose vaguely romantic and Old World, and enchanted by a Martha Stewart magazine spread, I bought 2 for a holiday birthday party. I should have paid more attention to the warning tone of the butcher when he told me he only had small ones left. The birds prepped and popped into the oven, following weight/time/temp instructions, I confidently set out the hot side dishes once the geese were supposed to be done. The geese were skinny, and of course you know–to my eye raw. No matter how many times I put them back in the oven, they never cooked, at least to my understanding. I kept reheating the side dishes. My husband had looked at the whole layout before I started, and was concerned that such skinny geese would be enough, so I had added a couple of game hens to the mix–ultimately the only poultry eaten by the party of 6 that night. Am I allowed a just a tiny bit of Schadenfreude that someone who lives with such style and kindly grace had a goose problem incident too? Your story is quite funny.

    • OH Clarissa….do tell the end of the story of the geese! They were skinny….and you thought they were “poultry”? and the meat would turn white or at least beige??

      No??? Oh please go on!!!

      As Slim told us….(and I learned the hard way) Goose is RED MEAT!

      So, Tell us please, what happened????

      Penelope

    • what a smart husband! Are you still married to him! He saved the day! OMILORD!!

      NEVER cook a goose! Have you ever met a goose? That should tell you right there!!

      What a great story…..and all the others!!

      Thanks Slim!!

      So much fun!!

      XXOO

      Penelope

    • I don’t know about the ‘style and kindly grace’ but you are indeed allowed the tiny bit of Schadenfreude just for 1) knowing what it is, and 2) for knowing how to spell it!

  40. A great Christmas story with lovely New Orleans Lights, NYC Department Store windows at Christmas time, and a great gaggle of geese. Happy New Year, Mr amd Mrs SP and FAM. :). Ciao! Maryann

  41. Penelope–I did not know either that goose is a red meat! So I kept popping their bony little bodies back into the oven, waiting for them to stop oozing red. The little meat there was turned into jerky, which I could barely get off the bones when I finally gave up. I have never gone near one since in culinary terms, but do love the sound of a gaggle honking overhead as they fly by in their wondrous formations.

  42. Slim,
    I do love your blog so, and it always makes me smile, but not tonight. It made me sad to read about the Christmas Goose gone awry and how upsetting it must have been for you. Although it has been a while, I often cooked a goose for Christmas dinner and it was almost always quite tasty. But, the goose itself is secondary-the fat, cracklings and the cassoulet a few days later are the real reward, in my humble opinion. See Julia’s treatise starting on page 282 of Mastering the Art on the subject-it’s the recipe I always used-I’m wondering if your bird was a big part of the problem, as you seem to be an accomplished cook. Your table setting was elegant and festive and I am certain a good time was had by all.

    I do hope you saw “Curious Incident”-I thought it the most amazing and fabulous thing I have ever seen on the stage-Broadway or London.

    Cook the goose the cook! I have an apron that says that-I should send it to you. And, I’m told, French mothers use goose fat to cure sore throats. Happy New Year.

  43. Happy New Year Slim! My nephews didn’t know who Joe Cocker was either…LOL! Only one more day until Season 5 of Downton Abbey…YAAAAAAY!

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