January 3, 2011

goodbye 2010, hello 2011

I planned to do whittle down my to-do list over the holidays but, well, those plans were not well-founded; so much fun with family can keep a girl pretty well-occupied! Christmas with my family at my parents' house by the river was a total treat. We didn't venture out of the house much, save mass on Christmas eve and a family outing to see the Coen brothers' latest, but lazing around the house is never as fun or as cozy as it is with my family. We filled our days reading by the fire, playing word games, watching movies in the basement, enjoying the snow, taking walks, laughing at each other trying on hats, celebrating my sister's birthday, and listening to my mom's stories about the old days in Vietnam. (Highlight: "I felt a little stressed and depressed, so I got a rooster for a pet.") And of course we did tremendous amounts of cooking/baking/eating. A small sampling:
  • my mom's best pot ever of bun rieu (Vietnamese crab/shrimp/tomato soup) -- I'm still thinking about how delicious this was;
  • banh bot loc (chewy dumplings filled with savory shrimp);
  • banh xeo (a crispy pancake filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and rolled up in fresh mustard greens and lettuce);  
  • Vietnamese-style beef hot pot;  
  • Peking duck (I made this -- the skin was not correct, but the meat was nice -- and the resulting oven-cleaning resulted in a family evacuation from the living room + donning of face masks to cover the God-awful smell of oven cleaner);
  • benne wafers, which Lynh and I had fun making despite really not liking the outcome; 
  • cinnamon brioche rolls, Shirley Corriher's biscuits, sweet potato rolls, sandwich bread
  • Greek yogurt panna cotta, sour cherry pie and spiced pumpkin pie
  • a huge batch of beef empanadas, encased in pie dough and baked; and
  • a Mexican-style brunch, with my brother's excellent tomatillo-chipotle salsa and tomatillo salsa, bacon, yummy refried black beans and a mess of homemade tortillas. 
It was wonderful to be with my family. I took lots of pictures; here is one of my favorites, of my parents:

cute mom and dad!

Also, my brother had the brilliant idea to recreate a few old family photos. It was a lot of fun, though they would have turned out better if we had some 80's-style sweatsuits, not to mention bad bangs. The results:

old photo recreation


more old photo recreation

Our lucky stars were very kind to us this past year. Every passing day of health and happiness for our families, friends and ourselves is a special gift (I think especially of my dad, who remains cancer free and healthy after surgery two years ago -- fingers crossed!) and everything else -- spending time with our wonderful families and friends, planning fun travels and making a new home in the Bay Area -- is simply icing on the cake. We hope that 2011 will be as memorable and meaningful as 2010. Happy new year to you and yours; may you all be happy, healthy and well-fed in 2011!


robin said...

hahahahaha I LOVE your photo recreations! What a hilarious idea!

Amy said...

I also made benne wafers and Shirley Corriher's biscuits recently. Huge thumbs up to the biscuits -- love those. As for the benne wafers, I adored them; what did you not like about them? Also, I'm impressed that you attempted Peking duck... I love them, but not something I would ever try at home.

Laura said...

omg, I'm making my family take pictures like this next time we get together.
your family feasting sounds epic! I'm not familiar with most of the Vetnamese dishes you listed, and I LOVE Vietnamese food.

Kim said...

Robin - It was so ridiculous, yet so fun! My parents loved it too.

Amy - The benne wafers, to put it as indelicately as possible, stuck in my teeth in the worst way. They were too hard for me to enjoy. Live and learn. Re: the Peking duck, it is actually not as hard as you might think. I would say the real key is finding a duck that is not too fatty. I used the Serious Eats recipe; you can google it.

Unknown said...

Love the photo recreations! I may force my own children to do that some day! ;-) Love you! Aunt Kathy