Usually things work out for me in the kitchen. In the rest of my life, not necessarily, but in the kitchen almost always. But every once in a while catastrophe occurs. Like yesterday.
Sophie has a friend at school, Little Friend S., who really wanted to see her Christmas tree and decorations. They're Jewish and although it sounds like he talked his parents in to a tree, they don't have all the associated crap that goes with Christmas. And heaven knows I do—lots of it. I just love this little guy. He's sort of a male version of Sophie, and they get along amazingly well. So I thought it would be nice to invite him over for a visit and have the kids decorate gingerbread houses. I picked them up at school, and Little Friend S. accompanied Sophie to her violin lesson (she let him carry her music bag for her). Then home to our house.
I have a cast iron gingerbread house mold and usually use this, but this year I saw kits that actually looked pretty good. They were by Willy Wonka and came with some of our favorite candy: Nerds (LOVE them), Sweet Tarts, Fruit Runts, and Bottle Caps. Thinking I could cut myself a break, I grabbed two last week.
Everything you needed was there: the house parts, royal icing mix (just add water), and lots of candy. What could go wrong?
Plenty, evidently. And to be fair, it's really not Willy Wonka's fault. I should have assembled the houses the night before but was at a school meeting and got home too late. We let the icing dry but clearly not long enough because when Sophie and Little Friend S. decided that the roofs would look good with about a pound of candy each, we experienced severe structural failure.
One house went down.
Followed quickly by the other.
Damn. After several attempts at repair, we finally decided that taking home the frosted and candy-covered pieces would suffice. They were really good sports.
But the evening was not a total lose. The kids regrouped and put in some good work on Sophie's Calico Critter house.
And Little Friend S.'s parents came over for dinner. They brought these lovely flowers and a delicious salad.
We had daube provencal, a French beef stew, which I served over buttered egg noodles.
Here's a picture of the braised fennel I served as a side:
And I pulled some squash dinner rolls that I baked a few weeks ago from the freezer and warmed them up. They were a lovely deep orange color and were so moist you almost don't need butter.
And I got another chance to use my super Christmasy red transferware dishes, the fruit of many hours spent on eBay auctions. I have a good sized collection of mostly unmatched pieces, which is just how I like it.
Anywhoo, back to those cards!!