Setting Records and Keeping Traditions

We just came inside after having taken advantage of the first bit of sunshine in several days. Thanks to the recent rains, the lettuces and other greens are looking great! I harvested a nice salad's-worth plus several carrots. Still, I have grave concerns about our gardens, which seem to think Winter is over, causing bud-break to occur on the blueberry bushes, the grape vines, the peach trees, and many of the roses, as well as flower buds to pop out along with the Rip van Winkle daffodils, The problem? Let the picture tell this story:

I know! This is plain freaky, isn't it? Predicting a high for Boxing Day of 72° is bad enough. Recording a temperature of 73° at noon is worse...because we know it will go higher in the afternoon. I don't like feeling like I'm celebrating Christmas in Australia…unless I'm actually getting to celebrate Christmas in Australia (where, according to one of our new fave TV shows, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, which is filmed in Melbourne, they celebrate "Christmas in July"…but I digress...;-)

Anyway, that's the way it's been all along the East Coast this year...where many cities have set record high temperatures. Here in HPNC, we are playing along with the crowd, tying the Christmas Day high. We are also maximizing our electric bill...but not because of using the heat. Oh no, we had to turn on our AC on Christmas Eve for the first time since we celebrated the Holidays in Kissimmee. Florida. In 2003. 

Point-of-fact, we haven't turned our central heating units on this year, managing the few cold days (and nights) before this heat wave with the gas fireplace and lots of socks and sweaters (and lovely, warm quilts!). But no fireplace on this Christmas. We settled for the video-on-demand 'fireplace' on TV instead. 

Still, in spite of the weird weather, we were in festive moods to enjoy the traditions of the Season: Christmas Dinner (turkey with the trimmings, sort of like Thanksgiving Redux)...which we had on Christmas Eve for the first time; opening of "one present each" on Christmas Eve (which is the traditional pair of WINTER pajamas...;-); and then stockings first, Monkey Bread second, presents third, and Breakfast Casserole and Ambrosia fourth on Christmas Morning. (It's because we have finally realized, after several years of saying "we're just too full to eat Christmas dinner" on Christmas night after all we eat on Christmas morning that we moved Dinner to Christmas Eve...;-). We did have enough room on Christmas Day to eat generous slices of family fave, coconut cake with pineapple filling. Hey, we can be flexible while keeping the traditions!

Here are some photos of the Season:

Finally got the tree up in the great room...with 4 whole days to spare!

…and here it is Christmas morning after Missy M added her gifts.

The oldest ornament on the tree, circa 1965.

The newest ornament on the tree...a knitted sheep

One of Nana/Momma/Edith's painted ornaments (l); one of Missy M's picture memory ornaments (r).

Missy M's baby pic (r); a handmade ornament (l)

An ornament from 2006...made at the glassworks in Louisville

A pared-down mantle: few Nutcrackers made their way down from the attic; stockings were MIA (never fear...we used the little stocking ornaments instead, per Missy M's suggestion!)

Ner's Coconut Cake with Pineapple Filling

Monkey Bread for Christmas morning...recipe below:


Monkey Bread:

Please, please, please...don't use a recipe that calls for biscuits. You will sacrifice both flavor AND aroma.

To make bread "ring:"
  • 12-18 frozen dinner rolls (I used 22 Rhodes-brand frozen rolls this year...too many!)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted (not margarine...or any kind of substitute)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans, rough-chopped
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 2-4 T. milk

  1. The night before you wish to serve, micro-melt the stick of butter in one bowl; mix together the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Brush a couple of tablespoons of melted butter into the bottom and sides of a Bundt pan, and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and the pecans over the butter. [When you invert the "ring," this will make a nice topping.]
  2. Then dip each frozen roll in the remaining butter, followed by rolling it in the bowl of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place each prepared roll into the pan, starting with the bottom layer of 6-8 rolls and staggering the placement in any subsequent "stacks". Mix any remaining butter with remaining cinnamon-sugar, then pour over/between the rolls. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a cold oven (do NOT heat!), and let sit overnight. (If you use more than 12 rolls, put a cookie sheet pan underneath to catch any drips, as the rolls WILL rise during the night.) 
  3. In the morning, remove the plastic wrap, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-35 minutes. To prevent over-browning, cover top of pan with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.
  4. When done, remove pan from oven and immediately turn over onto a plate big enough to catch all the syrup that will drip out of the pan. Make sure you get ALL the syrup and nuts from the bottom.
  5. Combine the icing ingredients (powdered sugar, 2 T. melted butter, and enough milk to get the right consistency) and drizzle over the bread. Enjoy warm!


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