Holiday Cheer, Part 1

I’ll admit that it’s been a little difficult wrapping my brain around the fact that in Southern California, it’s 70 degrees on Thanksgiving. That just doesn’t feel very Holiday Season to me. It’s supposed to be friggin’ freezing. It was about 12 degrees in Ohio on Thanksgiving, and even though it was mild back in New York, it wasn’t 72. So although we made the full effort on Thanksgiving — turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, etc. — even my favorite, canned cream style corn (I am still white trash at heart) — it was fun and cheery (even though I messed up the gravy), but it didn’t quite feel right. I just didn’t feel in that pre-Christmas spirit. What could I do? I mean, it’s not like it’s ever going to snow in LA… Or so I thought.

Something had to be done. I’ve been spending crazy-long hours working on “Turbine” (see the work sample linked from the entry below), and AEJ has been sick with a cold for days and feeling some major cabin fever, so it was time to get the hell out of the house for a few hours.

But first, a Holiday Cheer appetizer. Perhaps a “cheeritizer.” Or a “hollitizer.” Maybe an “appicheeritizer.” Whatever. We baked gingerbread!

Very tasty, courtesy of the Cook’s Illustrated baking cookbook. Looking for a great gift for somebody for the holidays? If that person likes baking, it’s hard to beat these recipes, and the fun way the book is written. Yes, the “illustrated” part is just that; don’t expect many beautiful photos (although there are a few pages). What you’ll get are drawings in the Wall Street Journal style. But you’ll also get tips on the best kitchen supplies (and specifically recommended brands), detailed descriptions of why each recipe is the way it is (with stories of other techniques the testers tried but abandoned, and why), and easy-to-follow, delicious recipes. Their grilling cookbook is also a must. Don’t say I didn’t make any shopping recommendations!

As I was saying, we had our appihollicheeritizer, and headed out. I needed to pick up a book for a potential commission (very exciting, which I hope to share here soon!), so we opted to visit The Grove, LA’s nice new mall. On the way there, we passed my personal place of worship:

I can almost taste that pan pizza right now. Hey, what’s on special today at Pizza Hut?

That’s it. There’s nothing else on the sign. Yes, they went through the trouble of hanging the letters on the Pizza Hut sign, just so we’d know — in case there was any doubt — that today at Pizza Hut, they’re offering “P IZZA.” Although I do love the Pizza Hut, we had to get moving, so dinner would come later.

We arrived at The Grove, and look what we saw! SANTA! I guess he just loaded his bag with treats from Crate & Barrel.

Here’s the tree at The Grove. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s a real tree — hard to believe, because it’s 100 feet tall. That’s even taller than the Rockefeller Center tree. So, nyah.

Look! A sax player! At first, I thought he was playing the sax solo from Sasparilla, but then I realized it was “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy.”

We were feeling quite Christmassy already, and then it happened: the unthinkable. Right here in LA, where it was 55 degrees last night, it started to snow.

The snow was a little weird — it seemed to be frozen soap water — but hey, I’m not complaining. Any shopping mall that can bring in a 100-foot tree, a sax-playing bear, and make it snow in LA — that’s a mall for me.

And yes, we did eventually get dinner. Where? Why, at one of my other favorite places: Johnny Rockets. Mmm. Maybe not Christmassy, but delicious.

We finished the evening at Crate & Barrel buying festive dishtowels and other holiday knick-knacks, then came home and watched Rudolph.

Now that is a festive evening. Ho, ho, ho.


Rebecca says

i love your picture entries.

~a fan from OSU

Daniel Montoya, Jr. says

what is it with white people and cream corn?

Lissajeen says

Wow, I'm really sorry we missed that. Really really. New Jersey didn't inspire much cheer and excitement in me, I must say. Maybe it takes a mall.

And if the illin' AEJ is itching for something to do in the confines of home, I could point to a certain blog... :)

Your big sister, Lisa :) says

J.C....please tell me that you didn't have frozen cream corn from the box! be truly 'white trash like' it needs to be from a CAN!! (Like mom always made.) But I think (years later)when she wanted to cook 'fancy' she would mix frozen yellow corn with canned cream style...or maybe it was all from cans! Oh well, either way, very yummy!

lisa says

Creamy corn? Call me white trash and serve. it. up!

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