Christmas Eve tomorrow! In some countries today is called “Little Christmas Eve”, which is pretty cute and sort of sums up the excitement bubbling in us all as Christmas Day approaches.
         As predicted, the past week has been a wild ride of events, interspersed, on my part, with vast amounts of cooking😊 Monday was the long anticipated brunch with the Gallaher Family from the UK. Mum, Michelle has been a friend for close to 30 years, first coming into my life (of course) through the world of Day Camps. She served as a Team Member, Leader, Training Leader and long-time Committee Member before her marriage and eventual relocation to England, but like the best of lifelong friends we are able to pick up where we left off and spent Monday talking a blue streak, over and around her husband, Brandon and their 4 children! It was a sweet and special day with many memories safely stored in my heart.
         Tuesday Jillian and I welcomed Jessica and Jenna for another Studio Ghibli Evening. This time we ate Soupe Joumou (a Haitian recipe) & Vanilla Caramel Tart while watching “Spirited Away”. It was a lovely cosy way to end another hectic day.
       Wednesday afternoon I baked a ton of things in preparation for both Thursday’s House Eucharist and a catering order that was to be picked up yesterday. I also squeezed in the job of packaging up 10  “buckets” of mixed biscotti all but three of which have now been delivered on various “Wil Walks”.
        Thursday’s House Eucharist and Pot Trust Supper was very lovely, with 12 members of our wider house community fellowship coming together with Celebrant Bishop Mary. We spanned three generations and yet were truly able to share in this special and holy celebration with music, liturgy, a short video, crafts for the kiddos and lots of food for everyone.
      Then yesterday was an all out cooking day as I completed the catering of a dinner for 10 and also assembled a special afternoon Tea Party for Jillian and myself as she was leaving late in the afternoon to spend the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays with her parents and extended family.  We munched on home-made crumpets with plum jam while watching the final episode of the 2015 British- Bakeoff (we just had to squeeze the finalé before parting for the Holidays!!)
     Today we woke up to snow and freezing rain, falling alternately and causing some pretty hazardous walking and driving conditions.  Wil and I managed to walk to both the CTM Bank and my own Bank and to do some grocery shopping. He fell on the ice during the week so I’m trying not to walk him very far. He was in good shape this morning but is hobbling around again now, which has me pretty worried. The balance of today will be spent in baking, largely to get ready for the breakfast, which I will be hosting for Sarah and Alexander. This will be the third year they have joined me on Christmas morning prior to this newer tradition, Alexander had been making an annual early morning visit for coffee and Stöllen each Christmas, since my Dad died, nine years ago.
I feel very blessed that a young couple, both of whom have plenty of family obligations to fulfil on Christmas Day, has chosen to make time to fellowship with me, so I always try to make a very special spread 😊 On top of everything else Brian has just dropped off my Christmas Tree-VERY exciting!!!!  So I had better end off this rather rambling post, to decorate the tree, while baking shortbread and Challah loaves at the same time. AGH!!
It is hard to choose just one recipe for Little Christmas Eve. I think Tuesday’s Soupe Joumou might be a good choice as it makes a nice change from all the poultry that most of us are eating at this season. 😊
Soupe Joumou
  • 1 lb.  Stewing beef, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 3 fresh limes
  • Coarse salt & pepper
  • 3 Tbsps. olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 12cups beef broth
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 1 potato, cubed
  • 2 small heads of bokchoy, sliced
  • 2 tsps. ground chipotle
  • ¼ tsp. each ground cloves & nutmeg
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cups home-made or canned pumpkin purée
Pat the cubes of beef dry, place in a bowl, toss with the juice of 1 lime and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat; dry the beef with paper towels and brown in the olive oil. Pour a little of the water into the pot and scrape up all the brown bits then add the rest of the water and 4 cups of the broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour or until the beef is tender. Add the rest of the broth, bring to the boil add all the vegetables and the chipotle. Simmer for 20 minutes or just until the vegetables are tender. Add the pumpkin purée and spices and simmer for 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with a parsley and serve with sweet potato chips. Serves 8-10 and freezes well.

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