Christmas 2011

This was the first Christmas that both AEJ and I have been mostly-vegetarian (I say “mostly” because AEJ is a “real” vegetarian, and as I showed in my over-the-top dinner at Next: Childhood [did you read that post?  You should!], I’m a little more wishy-washy about it), and vegetarian = a trickier Christmas Dinner. No turkey, no ham, no chicken? Hmm. So on Christmas Eve, we opted to make vegetarian chili.

It starts with sauteed onion, green pepper, green chiles, celery, oregano, and salt.

I’m skipping some steps here, but eventually: chili!

For dessert, what says Christmas more than peppermint ice cream? This particular brand was tasty, but looked more than a little like a scene from Dexter.

Christmas morning, as is our tradition: monkey bread!

There were lots of fun presents this year, but the best one to feature here on the photo-heavy blog is the new Canon 100mm f/2.8 L IS Macro lens. (Thank you, Santa!) I shot all of the following photos with the new lens.


And from the tree… PONY!

Not only is December 25 Christmas Day – it’s also the birthday of Isaac Newton. (For those who don’t believe in science, Newton’s basically your satan.  Also, you’re a moron.) AEJ is taking a course called “The History of Science Prior to Newton’s ‘Principia’,” so it seemed only appropriate that her Christmas gifts would include a Newton finger puppet.  (She got other philosopher finger puppets, including Hegel, Galileo, and Kant.  Now she can do some awesome puppet shows for the neighborhood kids.  Kids love philosophy puppet shows about as much as we love kids.)

Here’s a sprig of rosemary that David Rakowski brought to us a few weeks ago.

Every year, AEJ gets me a Lego treat. This year, I found Lego Snowman in my stocking. He’s sort of weirdly menacing-looking with his evil Geordi La Forge visor.

AEJ likes colorful things, and cozy things, so she got some.

On Christmas Day, we made homemade cornbread (to accompany our chili), using one of Ina Garten’s recipes.

Vegetarian? Okay. Vegan? No way.

In case you can’t tell, this is corn meal.


It’s very exciting to be aluminum free!

Also essential to any cooking experience: a cocktail. This is a Pimm’s with ginger ale, and the Pimm’s is homemade by my long-time friend Kelley Polar.

These are “eggs.”


Jalapenos being friendly.

Jalapenos, chopped.


Scallions, chopped.

Same, with cocktail in the background.

I’m digging the shallow depth-of-field of this lens.

Sharp knife.

Jalapenos, scallions — and the “wet ingredients.”

Not as pretty when combined.

Same chili as earlier in the blog, but shot with the macro lens.

With sour cream on top.

What does one need after chili? A peach gummy from Japan. They’re super juicy.

Cocktails: tasty. Also tasty: wine.

This lens is fun.

Gotta go. It’s puppet show time.  Call the kids!


Kenn McSperitt says


Very Merry Christmas to you and AEJ! Thank you for sharing your gifts with the rest of us. Many scientific blessings for the new year! May it see you happy, healthy, and wealthy.

My best,

Clark says

Nice! I got the scores to Ravel's 2 piano concertos, and then a ton of music

Donnie Sorah says

That chili looks AMAZING. Can you tell me where you found the recipe?


Donnie - it's this recipe, and we made it almost exactly as specified. We only added a teaspoon of cocoa (which we'd read was good to deepen the flavor) and two tablespoons of brown sugar.

Donnie Sorah says

Thanks for sharing, John! We'll be sure to put this on the menu when we return home from visiting family for the holidays! Also, thanks for letting us live vicariously through you and your photos of Next! Wow! We are going to Chicago on Friday but unfortunately - as you stated - tickets are sold out.

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