For the past several years at Christmastime, we have used our lovely but oversized fake tree.
Every year I say "let's get a real tree this year" and we never do.
This year we did.
Usually the site below saddens me. The festive decorations are put away, the colorful lights are no longer twinkling and sparkling off all the glass and mirrors, the cheerful holiday melodies have faded back into the usual tired stuff on the radio.
And seeing the tree on the curb always makes me feel bad for putting it out there. Didn't it waft it's delicate pine scent and display our precious ornaments so well?
Didn't it provide happiness for the children as they raced down the stairs Christmas morning to check under it's noble branches to see if Santa came?
And now, does it deserve to be dragged out to the roadside in this bitter weather only to be slushed upon repeatedly by uncaring SUVs and snowplows?
Yes. Yes it does.
Because by the time I got this tree down, I was ready to put it in the shredder myself Fargo-style.
Not only did EVERY needle come off while undecorating it, there appears to have been a spider living in it as evidenced by the lovely web it wove around the star.
Then, as I unscrewed the pegs, and it fell to the floor, all the water from the base completely missed the bucket I had strategically placed, soaking the hardwoods and turning all those fallen needles to an oh-so-fun-to-clean-up-mushy pile.
So, yes, it was a good tree, but now it's time to let go.
The last day this week of my PW's recipe challenge was cheese grits and mocha brownies.
I halved the grits and it still was plenty. (she cooks for many more people)
They were just as promised: cheesy and delicious. The cayenne pepper gave it a nice kick and the cheddar and jack cheese were smooth and flavorful.
The brownies need some work though.
It says to use an 8x8 pan. I don't think so. I don't know how high her pans are but this filled mine to the top. And bake time was not 40-45 minutes as the recipe said, but more like over an hour. Next time, a 9x13 for decreased baking time should do it.
Now I can't be too critical of the frosting because I didn't make it mocha. Tim and I both don't care for coffee and I don't even like just it's flavor, (but I do enjoy the scent--what's up with that?) so I substituted with whole milk. It was very yummy but waaay too much. (5 cups of powdered sugar and 2 sticks of butter) Especially for the teeny 8x8 pan. The picture shows a slathering of frosting on hers, but I think that's overkill. Plus there wasn't enough room to lay it on so thick because the brownies were already brimming the edge of the dish.
And both the brownies and the frosting called for 3 tsp. of vanilla each. Since I don't buy vanilla by the gallon, I cut that back a bit.
Now after all this critiquing, I can still say that the food was very yummy. The grits were warm and comforting and the brownies really were delicious. The process just needs to be tweaked a bit to fit my kitchen and it's capabilities.
Next week's menu:
Monday: Basic Breakfast Potatoes and Angel Sugar Cookies
Tuesday: Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich
Wednesday: Chicken Spaghetti
Thursday: Comfort Meatballs, Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Homemade Ranch with iceberg wedge. (meatballs may change to meatloaf)
Friday: Macaroni and Cheese
And maybe another dessert thrown in there, just because I want to.