Home for Christmas - Part 2 - Tea And Cookies.
A Walk in the Garden
‘Sure’s great to have Fleur home, the little ones always behave better with her around,’ said Don. ‘She loves her big sister role, doesn’t she?’
‘I’m so proud of her, Don. She’s got on the Dean’s list again. We’re going to have a brilliant architect on our hands. How’d you like to build the houses she draws?’ she giggled.
In this vein, talking about family matters, discussing the impending visit of her mother and niece and nephews, they peacefully ambled around the early winter garden. A scroll-work bench by the apple tree invited Renee for a short rest while Don picked a few bunches of rosemary and a bouquet of the last of the colorful zinnias. He reminded himself that the garden needed tidying before the snows, maybe Paul and he could do it the coming weekend. He sat with his wife for a while, both silently watching the last of the sun’s rays slipping below the horizon, each drawing strength from the familiarity of home and family.
The sound of a car in the driveway and loud ‘thank you’s’ and ‘goodbye’s’ got the couple reluctantly to their feet. Their youngest was home and would be ravenous.
Tea and Cookies
‘That was a great dinner, girls, thanks.’
Paul, munching the last piece of toad-in-the-hole, nodded agreement. ‘Splendiferous,’ he said when he could speak. ‘Let’s have it again tomorrow.‘ Fleur ruffled his unruly brown hair. ‘If you clear up tonight.’
‘No problemo. No homework because of the concert practice.’
‘Who’s for some tea and cookies?’ This from their Dad. Four pairs of hands shot up. ‘Mom’s specials.’
ceramic baking dishes
Recipe - Classic toad-in-the-hole
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Add to shopping list
1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 scant teaspoon Kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb of bangers (an English sausage made with pork and breadcrumbs), or good quality pork or beef sausage links (in casings)
1 In a large bowl, whisk together the flour with the salt and a pinch of pepper. Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the eggs, milk, and melted butter into the well and whisk into the flour until smooth. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
2 Coat the bottom and sides of an 8x12 or 9x9 casserole dish with vegetable oil (we use high smoke point grapeseed or canola oil). Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Put the empty dish on the rack. Preheat the oven with the dish in it to 425°F.
3 While the oven is coming to temperature, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet on medium high. Add the sausages and brown them on at least a couple sides
4 When the sausages have browned, and the dish in the oven hot, pull the oven rack out a bit, put the sausages in the casserole dish, and pour the batter over the sausages. Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the batter is risen and golden.
Serve at once.
Yield: Serves 4-6.
Courtesy: Elise Bauer - Simplyrecipes.com
A Little Night Music
Later, with strings of lights satisfactorily strung on the potted plants outside on the front porch, and various angels, candle holders and Christmas-village cottages placed on strategic spots around the house, and the Crib on the mantelpiece, they dimmed the house lights and gazed dreamily at their handiwork.
‘This is going to be the best Christmas ever,’ enthused Paul. ‘ I can’t wait for Grandma and the cousins to get here.’
‘They’ll be here for your concert, Paul. Grandma’ll be so proud.’
‘Yeah, I’m going to sing my songs specially for her.’ The whole family was praying Paul’s voice wouldn’t start breaking till next year. Right now he had an angelic boy soprano voice. No one else in the family could sing worth peanuts, although Leonie could play the piano fairly well.
‘Dad, can we get the tree tomorrow? I can’t wait to trim it.’
The house settled down for the night, the silent protector of its various human inhabitants and spectator of their little dramas.
The Night Call
Oh, no, surely not, thought Renee. Yes, it was. She felt the warm wet rush that had wakened her. It was 3.30am by the luminous dials of the electric clock. ‘Don? Don, honey, baby signals. We have to go.’
‘Wha’? ‘ Don woke immediately. He sat up. ‘Oh,Renee, the baby? Honey, oh wait. Don’t move. You’re sure? Stay put. I’ll wake Fleur and then come help you dress.‘
Fleur ran down to start the car to warm it, and then called Dr. Gallagher. She was
still on the phone with Dr. Gallagher when her parents emerged from their room.
She went and brought out the little suitcase that had been packed weeks before and helped her father (who was all thumbs) put her mother’s coat, hat and scarf on her. ‘Oh, mom, you’ll be so fine,’ she hugged her. ‘Dr. G. will be there soon. He’s actually at the hospital. He had another delivery a short while ago.‘ They packed her mother carefully in the car.
She thought to herself, it's just a bit over a week early, and a lot of babies don't wait the full 40 weeks and they are all right. ‘See you later, Dad, call me when you can.’ And she kissed him, guessing at his nervousness. ‘She’s in the very best hands, Dad, we trust Dr. Gallagher totally.'
Fleur - the Daughter
When her parents had left, she changed their bedsheets, then went and got herself a cup of cocoa, knowing her Dad would call soon. Half an hour later, he did.
'Fleur? Mom's doing ok. She's in her room, they're not taking her to Delivery yet. She's not ready. I'm staying for a couple of hours and then coming home to get cleaned up and pick up a few toiletries. Are you ok there?'
'Yeah. Did Dr. Gallagher see her, Dad?'
'Yes. He was really good with her. She's not in labor. He thinks she'll be a while yet.'
'Oh, good. Good night, Dad. I'll take care of the kids in the morning, so there's no need to rush home.'
'Right. Good night, sweetheart.'
Fleur went back to bed, fell asleep and slept like any healthy 20-year-old young lady.