Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas lights and brown Windsor vegetable soup

My in-laws have been promising the arrival of something Christmassy tacky for our yard for a few weeks now. To explain, D is a bit of a grinch about Christmas. He says it’s because of all his years working in retail, that years of working around the holidays is enough to take the joy out of the season. But deep down, I think the boy who loved Christmas is still inside and I’ve worked hard in the 8 years we’ve been together to bring that out. I’m succeeding bit by bit albeit slowly. I catch him listening to Christmas music at home, and at work and he loves getting presents for our boy. But as for decorations – not so much. Especially Christmas lights. We had a running joke for years about me putting up my “allowed” 7 Christmas lights. Truth being I’ve never been a big Christmas lights person either – the tree, some holly or cedar branches, cards, various ornaments around plus advent calendars are enough for me. But, even as a very tiny boy, T has loved Christmas lights. Before he was 2, I used to take the long way home from daycare through December and he would sit in his car seat and yell “yights” at each house that had them. (I got to know the competitive streets in the neighbourhood!) So for the past month or so, in addition to asking “when are we getting a dog (bunny)?” he’s also been asking about “when can we put up our lights?” He’s been somewhat better since we decorated the tree and hung all the lights in the house but in his little boy heart he really wants outside yights. And for some reason, totally against whatever feminism leanings I still harbour in my soul, I think the man of the house is responsible for lights. So our poor boy is without his “yights”. Until yesterday. Yesterday evening, after D had left for work, his sister, brother and sister-in-law arrived to assemble the item they thought would bring T the most joy while irritating D the most. A lit up snowboarding reindeer. It took quite a bit of maneuvering and some plier use to get it to stay together but we trekked outside in the torrential downpour and affixed the reindeer in one of the raised beds. Where it lights up the backyard. And where it sways in the wind, looking like it is actually boarding. T spent a good while gazing at it out of the window. Kerry also hung other lights around the patio so the entire backyard is looking very festive, except for the lack of snow.

And so D couldn’t miss it when he came home, I left the kitchen blinds open and the lights out downstairs so the full spectacle would be on view as he walked into the kitchen! By the time I came downstairs to meet him, he’d run outside and turned everything off. He’ll tell you it is in the interests of power conservation.

Now, D was working so that means usually for me, a supper of French fries or nachos or boiled eggs and toast. I made T his favorite supper of peanut butter toast fingers and carrots and then I had a quandary. What to feed these lovely people who were making my boy so happy. He loves them so much and they love him and its supper time ergo I must feed them. So I made soup. I’d been meaning to make soup from the bits of broccoli stalks I had in the veg drawer so that is where I started. There was less broccoli than I remembered so I grabbed some other stuff as well to make a brown Windsor vegetable soup (brown Windsor being the name of my mum’s leftover soup). The peeled, diced broccoli stalks, the remains of a bag of baby carrots, some apple left from T’s lunch which I diced, a handful of frozen corn and a handful of frozen hash browns. I sautéed all the vegetables in a biggish knob of butter until slightly soft, then added 3 cups of vegetable stock and simmered it while we assembled the reindeer. Once the veggies were cooked, I added 1 c of milk and whizzed the whole mixture with the immersion blender until smooth. I seasoned the mixture with pepper, ¼ tsp dry mustard, 2 tsp Dijon mustard and then in desperation, 2 tsp basil pesto and a handful of parmesan cheese. I added another 1 c of vegetable stock as the soup was getting a bit thick and threw in a handful of frozen corn kernels for texture. It served 4 along with some toast and crackers, liver pate and boursin cheese. With Christmas cookies for dessert. Mission accomplished. Light sculpture in place and co-conspirators fed.

In case you think I'm being mean to D, it should be noted that for the past 3 weeks I've been driving around in a car decorated with jingle bell reindeer antlers and a red reindeer nose, curtesy of my sister-in-law. She gave the kit to T, so of course I had to have it on my car!

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