christmas_tree2.jpgEvery Christmas morning, my sisters and I tumble downstairs, pause to survey the adorned Douglas Fir and its outlying territory, then continue to the kitchen.  It’s a family tradition that before fingertips ever meet wrapping paper, we sit down to a big breakfast of bagels and lox and scrambled eggs with onions.  In my less ripe years, I considered this practice illogical frivolous excruciating; however—predictably—as the son of God’s1 birthdays have accrued, I’ve discovered pleasure in the affair. The frequency of fully populated family breakfasts has shrunk since two of three children have moved out from under our parents’ roof and I think we all appreciate that this Christmas meal not only guarantees full family attendance but also promises that each party is going to be upbeat, which I’m not sure how other families work, but let’s admit that the wear of most days isn’t conducive to an atmosphere where all the faces at a table are invariably smiling.

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lattdad.jpgI associate mail order food with my father.  When I was growing up, he and I had very few connections.  He took me to only one professional football game.  He never came to Back-to-School Night and had no interest in any of my hobbies.  I remember him as dour, not very talkative and disapproving.  I was part of his second family and he was, I’m certain, just a bit too old to have a young kid running around. 

Added to that, my father was burdened by tragedy.  He was the eldest son of a prosperous Jewish family in Odessa on the Black Sea.  Unfortunately when the Russian Revolution swept across the country, Bolsheviks rampaged through his neighborhood, lining up and shooting many people, including my father’s family.  Being Jewish and well-to-do were two strikes too many at a time when “line them up against the wall” was taken literally.

Luckily for my father, when all this happened, he was studying at the University of Kiev.  He learned later that his mother had survived because she had very thick hair.  When she was shot at point blank range, the gunpowder was apparently so weak that the bullet merely lodged in her hair, knocking her unconscious and otherwise leaving her unharmed. My father never returned home to Odessa, having been told that he needed to flee the country, which he promptly did.

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red_present_box_wrapped.jpgWhen I was a kid, say about 7 or 8, my dad brought home a holiday gift that was emblematic of his personality: Frankenstein’s monster, a foot high, standing on a metal pedestal, dressed all in black with a large flat chalk green plastic head, decorated with bumpy zigzag cherry red scars. His black gash of a mouth spread across his face in a faint smile. The best part about this Frankenstein was the little switch on his back. At my father’s insistence, I pushed that switch and the monster, arms outstretched, started to shimmy back and forth and side to side. Then just as suddenly, my sister and I could hear a little grinding sound and click, off slid his pants. There he was, Frankenstein’s monster, no longer shimmying, just standing on his pedestal in red and white striped boxers. That faint smile of his now revealed a slight insouciance. Our gleeful giggles were overpowered by my father’s healthy, if sinister, chortle. To this day I am still not sure whether he loved the toy or our reaction to it. Knowing him, though, my money’s on the toy.

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roastgoose.jpgSome people think Roast Prime Rib is tradional for Christmas and lots of people just go with Roast Turkey – stuffed, brined, fast-cooked or whatever – but we thought it would be fun this year to serve duck or goose. Here's to hope, change and peace in the New Year. Happy Holidays from all of us at One for the Table.

Bacon-Wrapped Roasted Duck

Beijing Duck Redux

Braised Duck with Turnips

Duck Breasts with Quince Sauce

Duck with Port-Cherry Sauce

Easy Duck

Honeyed Duck

Ina Garten's Roast Duck

Christmas Goose

Roast Goost with Fruit Stuffing

Steam-Roasted Goose

Image'Tis the season of spreading good cheer and spreading waistlines. We have all heard it before – the average person gains one pound a year during the holidays. That is, except for French women, who apparently don't gain weight, ever.

One pound isn't so bad. What is bad is that most people never lose that pound and then continue to gain a pound each year afterwards.

There is no shortage of articles telling women how not to gain weight during the holidays. Some are practical; others are, well, simply stupid. Below are a few of my favorite stupid suggestions and my common-sense alternatives. They work for me, and I hope they'll work for you too.

Stupid Suggestion #1: Avoid Alcohol At Parties.
Telling people to avoid alcohol at a holiday party is like telling women inside of Nordstrom to avoid the shoe department. Ain't gonna happen.

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