I’m so glad I didn’t spend the past month hyping our trip to Maine.
A trip where we planned to pack the Subaru to the gills and head out east for adventure. A journey that required we borrow a car top carrier so that an air mattress and two dogs could fit in the back of our 2003 ride. A freeing adventure where we would drive until we got sleepy or a winter storm hit, striving for Acadia National Park as our final destination. A trip filled with just as much natural beauty as old world charm. There would be stops in Boston and other (no doubt adorably well-decorated and merry) farming towns. It would be romantic and snowy and perfect.
Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t tell you about all that. Because guess what? It didn’t happen. And there wouldn’t have been any snow anyway.
My back pain that I so laughingly brushed off at first was absolutely unyielding a full week and 3 days later, and among the many things making the pain worse, driving and/or sitting in a car was among the very top on the list. As was sharing our bed with the dogs. An epic road trip to Maine with nights spent squeezed four to a mattress in the back of a car = a really, truly terrible idea. So we canceled at the last minute.
(Don’t feel too badly for us. We’re heading to Puerto Rico in 4 short weeks!)
In order to heal my back and not get too sad about a canceled vacation, we decided to still take the whole week off anyway and have ourselves a little staycation. The goal was to do every holiday thing I could think of over the span of 10 days.
I did a pretty good job re: holiday fun (see below), but it turns out, for better or for worse, a few days of solitude were exactly what I needed. I learned some hard truths about myself and, at times, I really tested our relationship. What can I say? A homebody I am not.
I’ll keep the tough stuff to myself and only share the highlights of our 10 day holiday staycation which included:
1. An elaborate day of cookie baking with my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law.
2. Gingerbread house making for 13, hot buttered bourbon, and a gigantic dinner spread at my cousin and his girlfriend’s beautiful condo in Kenosha! (They are spectacular hosts. Obviously).
3. Long overdue re-organization of my spice cabinet. Is it strange how much I love putting things in jars?
4. A trip to the Christmas tree farm and a lazy day spent decorating.
5. The loss and rediscovery of quite a bit of cash. Don’t ask. I don’t want to talk about it. It was an extremely stressful seven hours.
6. A dozen or so (very damp) dog walks.
7. Exactly three homemade pizzas.
8. Not one eggnog waffle, but with great sadness, as there is weird mold growing in our waffle iron.
9. The construction of a cardstock Christmas village to sit atop our bookshelves.
10. A mini vacation to Chicago where we dined and looked at art and dined and drank and ate donuts and dined some more and shopped ’til we dropped all while looking at the beautiful Christmas lights, trying desperately to get in the holiday spirit despite the 60-degree days.
11. So many episodes of Master of None (all of them in fact), The Great British Bake Off (I don’t care if it’s the third time I’ve seen them) and How to Get Away With Murder.
12. Several farm meetings, even more farm decisions and a handful of goal-setting exercises.
I hope you are having a happy week before Christmas, that all your gifts have been purchased and that you feel on top of this holiday chaos. And even if you don’t, know that you are not alone. Everyone else is stressed out too. The holidays make us all overambitious. Smile, breathe, try to enjoy and don’t over think it.
Lots of love,
P.S. I know, I know, I didn’t talk up the quiche at all. Is it strange that quiche is all but an afterthought in this household? Quiche is what we do when we have veggie scraps in the fridge (but not much else) and we’re all out of creativity. Always simple. Always elegant. Always perfect. Added bonus, quiche makes some of the best leftovers you’ll ever eat. Double (or triple) this recipe and freeze the extra: perfect for a time of year when you really don’t know who might stop over unannounced!
LEEK & CABBAGE QUICHE
Makes 1 8-inch quiche
Serves 4-8 depending how hungry you are
Takes 1 hour
4 slices bacon, diced
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
1-2 poblanos, seeded and diced, optional
1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and diced
1/4 cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Partially baked pie crust (I always, always use this recipe and bake for 15 minutes before filling)
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat until brown and crispy. Remove from pan to a paper towel, but leave bacon fat in the pan. Add leeks and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add cabbage, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute for 5-10 minutes until cabbage is wilted. Remove from heat. Add bacon back into mixtures. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Pour mixture into partially baked pie crust and spread out evenly.
Whisk together eggs and milk until smooth in a medium bowl. Pour over leek cabbage mixture. Use a fork to make sure mixture is uniform. Top quiche with grated cheese. Bake for 40 minutes until the center of the quiche no longer wiggles.