Mom scored me some great Tupperware (which has become very hard to find), and Dad pruned my hedges, fixed my spinner racks at the shop, vacuumed, and did a few other odd jobs. Much-appreciated!
The boys helped my dad put pine straw around the plants outside. We have this really neat bush...I don't know what it is, but it always gives me these bright pink and yellow flowers at Christmas.
Since moving to the south, I have learned to make gumbo. I use Emeril Lagasse's recipe that you can find on the Food Network web site. I make my own roux, which Steve insisted on stirring this time. It was delicious chicken and sausage gumbo, a perfect dish to serve on a cold Christmas eve.
Christmas morning I got up and baked two pies and made "Little Devils" with the pie crust leftovers (on the left.) Graham named them "Little Devils" when he was one himself, and that name stuck. Basically, it's just the scraps cut off the edges dusted with sugar and cinnamon and baked. They always go quickly.
I am kind of known for my pie-making skills in my family, and I thought I'd share my recipe with you. I have used lots of different recipes, and this one works the best for me, producing a flaky crust, as long as I handle it properly...
Theresa's Apple Pie:
2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons COLD Margarine (I use Blue Bonnet)
2 cups all-purpose flour (I use White Lily, since I live in the south now)
Sprinkle of table salt
Using a pastry knife/blender, cut the margarine into the flour until margarine is pea-sized. Sprinkle in a little salt. Put in several teaspoons of ICE COLD WATER. This is important. Start mixing by hand. You want the dough to just barely come together (add a little more water if it still seems dry). THEN STOP!!!! The less you handle the dough, the better it will be. Chill it in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, as long as you like (you can also freeze it.)
While the dough is chilling, peel and slice up about five or six Granny Smith apples (these are perfect for pies). Sprinkle liberally with white sugar, cinnamon, and about a Tablespoon or so of flour. Mix it up. The flour will help your apples make a sticky sauce. My mom adds butter to the innards. I always figure it's some calories I won't miss, but knock yourself out if you like.
Halve, then roll out both pieces of the dough. You're going to need to sprinkle flour on a flat surface, and roll with a rolling pin. Lay one in the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch pie plate, pour your apples in there, lay on the top piece of crust (I cut a couple of slits in there to let the pie breathe), and sprinkle the top with white sugar. Pinch the crust shut around the edges, slice off the extra crust, and bake at 350 degrees until the pie starts to brown.
Since they're so delicious, make some Little Devils by putting your extra crust pieces on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. These only need about ten minutes or so...and they won't last that long once they're out of the oven.
Merry Christmas, everybody, and Happy New Year!