Monday, December 6, 2010

The Gift of Activity

We have been busy -- in a wonderfully selfish way.  First, there is the activity of the season.  Church for the second Sunday of Advent.  Thankfully, this Sunday we had a different priest who is ever so much happier than the Romanian priest who presided over the first Sunday of Advent mass as if it were a funeral.  This guy was a Franciscan from Italy who sang mass and I truly enjoyed it.  Then, Marianne came for Sunday dinner of exquisite (if I do say so myself) roast chicken and risotto.  The key to perfect risotto - take some of the chicken drippings and stir in just before serving.  YUMMY.  Recipe here:
This simple but delicious roast chicken is based on a recipe in Olives and Oranges by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox.

Source: Saveur

1  4-lb. chicken
1 lemon
22 fresh sage leaves
3 cloves garlic
6 tbsp. unsalted butter,
   at room temperature
Kosher salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
8 sprigs parsley
2 small onions, quartered
2 carrots, cut into 2" pieces
Fleur de sel
1. Heat oven to 475°. Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Peel lemon, avoiding white pith. Finely chop lemon peel, sage, and garlic together; place in a bowl. Add butter and 1 tsp. salt. Stir to combine. Quarter the peeled lemon; set aside.
2. Using your fingers and a small, sharp knife, loosen skin of chicken from breasts and thighs. Slip butter mixture between skin and flesh, spreading it evenly. Rub skin with oil; season skin and cavity with salt and pepper to taste. Stuff with quartered lemon, parsley, and 1 quartered onion. Tie legs together with kitchen twine, if you like.
3. Put remaining quartered onion and carrots into center of roasting pan and place chicken on top of them. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 400˚. Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh (without touching bone) reads 165°, about 1 hour more. Transfer chicken to a platter; sprinkle with fleur de sel; let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Then, Peter decided that he need to get out of here and go somewhere warm for a while so we booked a week in Marakesh, Morroco in January.  This is our Christmas gift to one another.  I asked for a special New Year's celebration - and reluctantly at first (but now all about it), we bought tickets to a concert and gala dinner in Salzburg (waltzing and fireworks!) at the Stiftskeller St. Peter.  

And this morning, when we woke, Peter asked me when we might go to Berlin and I said, why not this week.  Before I knew it, we had a hotel and directions and tomorrow morning we will depart.  There is a wonderful detour to Vachau to fetch documents for friends that Peter misplaced and then on Wednesday, we will arrive in the capitol city of Germany - where Peter was born.  More will follow on this event.
Finally, tonight St. Nikolas and the Krampus (devil) visited the 3 children in the house.  This has to be one of the most frightening and powerful memories of the month.  St. Nikolas has a golden book and reads the good and the bad from the past year about each child.  In kind households, the Krampus stays well in the background and is only called upon to serve St. Nikolas (give me the presents, etc.)... but in some homes, the Krampus plays a larger role and is used to "scare kids straight."  In this village, few if any call upon the Krampus in this manner but there is something universal and primordial about this figure.  I actually had tears come down my cheeks during this visit.  I don't think I was scared but there was a fear that came over me.  

Angst and action - one promotes the other.
Atilio and Christian hearing the "good and bad" from St. Nick.  Krampus in the background.
Atilio (7), Christian (9), Katarina (3)

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