Reader, I ate it anyway

You may have noticed that my last post included no reference to Martha, as I was confident that she would not want to be associated with such silliness. I will go ahead and tell you now that no one would want to be associated with the following. I am considering taking on a pseudonym, myself.

We had a pretty good thing going with the all-ball Christmas dinner, but I thought I would try to round it out (NOT SORRY) with a traditional holiday pudding. I have been very inattentive to my Book Lover's Cookbook of late, and the recipe associated with "A Christmas Carol" is a carrot pudding in the Dickensian style, which in theory should end up being more or less circular at the end of the day.

I have come here today to disprove this theory.

My re-read of A Christmas Carol was not as surprising as some other revisits of classics have been, since I see or hear at least some version of it annually. I tend to favor the audio reading of Sir Patrick Stewart, particularly the two moments when he is called upon to pretend to be a small child singing.

It's the small things that bring the greatest joy.

I will say that the actual text is very rewarding, particularly since amusing asides tend to be cut in favor of straight plot in popular renditions of the story. My favorite rediscovery this year was Nephew Fred's insistence that Christmas is wonderful because it's a time for everyone to "think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave." NEPHEW FRED IS THE CHEERFUL CHARACTER IN THIS STORY. I love the Victorians so, so much.

Looking great so far!

The passage excerpted in the cookbook is of course about the pudding at the Cratchit house, featuring the high anxiety of Mrs. Cratchit as she unveils the long-gestating treat. I have to admit, I was not particularly nervous about this dish until an unnamed party suggested that in order to make it more ball-shaped, we could cook it in a cheesecloth wrapping, rather than in a bowl or mold as suggested by the recipe.

This method does have the added bonus of evoking the head of Marley's ghost. 

Fun fact: puddings traditionally cook and dry out for an exceedingly long time. The two-to-three hour span that the recipe suggests is short by at least several weeks.

Possibly months.

I'm sorry, Mrs. Cratchit.

We couldn't save it.

Know in your heart that even though it looks like a bag of vomit, it smells like Christmas.

Sloppy, sloppy Christmas.

Speaking of abject failure, let's skim over Martha's recent calendar activities, here we go, Christmas brunch, sure, horseback riding, obviously, hey look, today is Frédéric Fekkai's birthday!

Happy birthday, Martha's friend Frédéric Fekkai! I will try this out today if I decide to shower.

Anyway, we've got some winter break to embrace over here. Time to ride.



I trust everyone is having a very generous Boxing Day and that the leftovers you sent home to your servants' families were of the highest caliber. Had I a staff, their loved ones would probably be confused this year upon unboxing what can only be described as an absurd number of edible balls.

I have already been asked by several people why my family had a Christmas dinner composed entirely of balls, to which I have mostly responded with a tired "I don't know." That's not 100% accurate. My brother and I joked about an all-ball meal at various points over the past 20 years, and in our family that is exactly the type of bluff that will eventually be called.


Sure it's silly, but everyone was 100% on board!

Even Dan got into the spirit, creating a highly festive Chex Mix ball.

We awarded him Nicest Try.

Sadly, this was a grueling process that drove him to the very brink of madness.

He is still clutching those tongs, three days later.

For the most part, though, this was a resounding success. A reROUNDing success.

Did I mention that I am tired.

Anyway, that is a thing that happened in my life, which is what you come here to find out about I guess.

Thumbs up, would create an entire menu around a geometrical theme again.

Next time I will tell you about the pudding.

I know, but it would be wrong to pretend it just never happened.

You can make some balls of your own while you wait:



Let's get this theme rolling

Oh, I started Martha-ing EARLY THIS MORNING, you guys. Apple fritters wait for no sleepy man!

I haven't done much in the way of cooking at this point because I have been busy prepping because my family is eating only ball-shaped foods all day because insanity has a genetic component.

Before that, though, some calendar items:

December 19th: "Place order for seeds and exotic plants for greenhouse." Hey Dan, we need some exotic plants.

December 20th: "Hang stocking and fresh mistletoe."

December 21st: "Bake and decorate sugar cookies with Jude and Truman."

I let the girls make help me with these Peppermint-Candy Sugar Cookies.

Some turned out a little more gargoyled than others.

December 22nd: "Have piano tuned." I don't have a piano. Or, still, a horse. Although we did do our stylish best on that point this week:

Anyway, I have so many thing to roll into balls right now, you really…just…have no idea. So for now, stay warm everyone!

Stay well-fed!

Hide from Santa if you need to!


Honestly, I thought your Celine Dion was spot-on

Is it dreary where you are? We have a mild case of drearies down here. (Of course, I like gray skies, the more dismal the better, but whatever, different strokes.) Try a big rainbow-y bowl of Winter-Vegetable Curry!

This was very good and probably would have been even better if I had used the full amount of curry paste, but my ildren-chay hate avor-flay.

Alternate pick-me up dinner: Espresso-Rubbed Steaks, although I must warn you, they photograph TERRIBLY.

Official Martha Craft That I Tried To Pull Off Without Going To The Store #3: Foil Snowman Lawn Ornaments.

Looks like somebody's American Garden just got a little more Outstanding!

Official Martha Craft That I Tried To Pull Off Without Going To The Store #4: Threaded Pomander Balls. I didn't have any beading cord, but it looked more or less like dental floss to me anyway.

"Mint" is also a holiday scent.

Martha's Calendar: Oh boy, you can tell we're in crunch time now because her entire to-do list for December 16th-18th is to note various birthdays. Happy birthdays to Jane Heller, Darcy Miller, and Kevin Sharkey, friend, colleague, and colleague of Martha!

Hey, that holiday party the other night was fun, huh?

Yeah, started a little rocky, but you perked up, right?

It's okay, I thought it was cute when you really animatedly told that story three times! Seriously, everyone was just having fun!

No, no, I definitely don't think anyone noticed that you ended up on the floor.

Don't worry about it! It was a party. No one was judging you.


A tree for every chimney

Good morning! Can I interest you in a warm holiday beverage? Step right over here, to the Warm Holiday Beverage Station.

I decided the best way to embrace Marthcember was to arrange my home in a manner suggesting that a Christmas party may break out at any moment. I have no plans to host a Christmas party, just to be clear. But if you do show up at my house in the next two weeks, please expect a seasonal mug of hot chocolate and a bowl of mixed nuts to be foisted upon you. This serves the dual purpose of creating a festive atmosphere and distracting you from the tree.

I have also leaned pretty hard into serving only party foods for dinner. It's brunch-appropriate casserole week!

Hash-brown casserole

Baked vegetable omelet casserole

Steamed whole cauliflower with paprika brown butter

Okay, that last one isn't really a casserole, but it was still well-received.

I also backtracked and filled in the Martha's calendar items I missed last week. Party foods just make me really productive, I don't know what to tell you.

December 10th: "Stake tomatoes in the greenhouse." I kind of tried to drape the more alive-looking bits over the existing tomato cage.

Outstanding American Gardens, cont.

December 11th: "Collect newspapers and pinecones for kindling." No pinecones here, but I'm fully prepared to destroy all evidence of HEB's sale on blackberries.

How many cents per pound?? future scholars will wonder.

December 12th: "Friend Susan Mogrino's birthday. Service vehicles and inspect tires." Tires looked alright. Happy birthday, Martha's friend Susan!

December 13th: "Horseback ride; buy Christmas tree from a nearby farm." STILL DON'T OWN A HORSE, GUYS. As far as live Christmas trees go, I have already put in my time with those suckers, but I did buy some holly from a nearby Trader Joe's.

Its smells terrible! Is that normal? Hey, do I maybe just...hate plants?

December 14th: "Friend Susan Warburg's and nephew Chris's birthdays." Happy birthday Martha's friend Other Susan and nephew Chris!

December 15th: "Trim Christmas trees [Ed. note: MULTIPLE CHRISTMAS TREES]; send out holiday cards." Done and done-ish.

Official Martha Craft #2: Make a lot of stuff out of foil.

This is going really well, thanks for checking in.

Unofficial Martha-ish Activity #2: Bake chocolate chip cookies while listening to Christmas music.