Hi all, Dianne here. I'll explain more about the pie-making saga later, but first, here's a short trip down full-timing memory lane:
We began our full-timing journey in December, 2008. Our first non-traditional Christmas Day (2008) was spent strolling around beautiful Savannah, Georgia.
Christmas, 2009 found us in Kerrville, Texas, fresh from our stint working Amazon's 2009 Christmas rush in Coffeyville, Kansas, and on our way to Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort next door here in Mission. A highlight was viewing the amazing Christmas Lights in Johnson City, near Kerrville.
Christmas, 2010 found us on Malibu Beach in California, spending our first Christmas in a long time with daughter, Robyn. (Not a bad view, huh?!)
This Christmas was our first spent at our winter home at Retama Village in Mission, Texas. This is such a special community that we wanted to take part in helping with their special Christmas dinner. Our planning meetings went smoothly, with an organized gal at the helm (Barb B.) and a little -- well, maybe a lot of wine to keep the good ideas flowing.
One of my favorite parts of Christmases past, other than spending it with family, was the holiday baking. My friends and family know that I LOVE
pie. I also enjoy cooking, but don't do as much these days because our eating habits have changed to a healthier diet (which does not include pie). During our first meeting when assignments were being hashed out, I heard the words come out of my mouth "I want to make all the pies." Where did that come from? Must have been the wine! What in the world made me think I could pull off making and baking pies for 90 people??
Well, the offer was made and accepted, so the challenge for me was to somehow pull it off. The other committee members I think knew how crazy it was, so they all offered any help that I needed.
The crusts were made the weekend before, rolled out and frozen for the big day. I used my favorite pie crust recipe, from one of my favorite cookbooks, "Cooking with Dave's Mom" by David Letterman's mom.
Christmas Eve was baking day. The committee met at the Retama clubhouse at 8:00 a.m. I had lots of help with peeling and slicing apples and moral support, as I began to freak out when the pecan pies refused to look done. I finally gave up and pulled them from the oven, then laid awake that night worrying that they would be a runny mess when it came time to serve them. Luckily, they were fine, and this being Texas (pecan country) it was the most requested of the four varieties. (Apple crumb, pumpkin, pecan, and Door County Cherry, a special recipe suggested by Barb B.).
17 pies later, the last were pulled from the oven a little after 4:00 p.m., and we all went home to rest up for the next day.
Christmas morning we were back at the clubhouse and it was another busy, busy day. Dinner was to be served at 3:00. The committee began the day with mimosas and baked goodies furnished by Barb.
Barb's husband, Ron, was the meat master, and spent all day in the outdoor kitchen preparing the prime rib and ham. (The meat was beyond wonderful).
My friend, Sue, prepared the scalloped potatoes and helped prepare the Red Lobster rolls for last-minute baking.
Sue also made Krumkake, a traditional Norwegian light rolled cookie. I had never heard of them before, and suggested she make a sign so folks would know what they are. Silly me, being from Indiana, I forget that South Texas is largely populated in the winter from those in North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. They knew what Krumkake was, and were quite excited to see them!
Roger took my photo behind the dessert bar, with some of my creations.
We paused for a group photo for a job well done. I'm trying something new and listing links to the recipes we used. Most of these are mine; the cranberry jello salad was the one we used at the dinner, and lots of people were clamoring for the recipe for that, so I'm including it here. I uploaded the recipes from my Mastercook files to my computer, then uploaded them from there to Evernote, a web link service. Merry Christmas!
Door County Cherry Pie
Flaky Pie Crust
Perfect Apple Pie
Retama's Good Cranberry Jello Salad
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were drizzly and cold here (50s), although we were too busy to notice. It has since warmed up and the sun has returned for some sunny winter days in the 70s. The pet photos of the day show a very happy Charlie the cat on our Mexican Olive Tree, harking back to his free days in Indiana before we began fulltiming.
He was an outdoor cat in those days, free to roam the neighborhood, climb trees and pergolas, even the neighbor's roof. He has to be tied up here, though, which he's not happy about. Problem is, he is not street smart in the ways of Texas, and does not know what rattlesnakes and coyotes are, or the circling hawks and crested caracaras. Sorry, Charlie, this is as much outdoor activity as you're going to get here in Texas!
Bandido was a happy guy, too, 'cause Doggie Santa brought him some yummy treats and squeaky balls.