‘Tis the night before Christmas, or, more accurately, the early morning of, and the cat and I are the only ones here stirring. I hear the rattle of paper on poorly wrapped gifts under the tree, and Molly hopping in and out between the branches. I hear the ornaments jingle as her tail flicks and flits, and the occasional soft “mew” as she reminds me that she has chosen my company over that of those warm, sleeping bodies in the room down the hall.
I should be sleeping. If I were smart, I would be – this is our busiest weekend of the year, and we have got to be at our best for these long days. There will be marathon meals and endless wine and rum drinks, and staying awake will be mandatory for most of it. Someone will have to watch the baby.
But it is my Christmas too, and I like being alone, puttering away in my kitchen, making something wonderful. If that has to happen well after midnight, then I’ll take it as it comes (with chilled vodka and a whisper of Meyer lemon).
Time for myself and time with my knives and pots and stove has been hard to come by these past few months, which I suppose is to be expected with a newborn, though I don’t like being defeated so easily. I have taken to buying challenging ingredients just to have on hand in case a burst of energy lines up with a wide enough window of time. Last night I braised goat ribs. Tonight I am waiting on pork belly.
Christmas morning belongs to Nick and I, and for the past three years I have made something special for the occasion. This year I’m making David Chang’s pork belly buns, from the Momofuku cookbook. You can find the recipe online at Epicurious as well.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll sip chilled prosecco and assemble sandwiches of tender slices of pork belly on steamed buns with cold cucumber, hoisin sauce, and pickled red onions. Right now, the aromas of pork and vinegar and spices and yeast have taken over the apartment, overpowering the smells of cookies and cranberry-scented candles that lingered here before. These are my sugarplums. The meat is sizzling in its slowly rendered fat, turning golden in a burst of high heat. So this is Christmas.
So Merry Christmas. I hope that you find a moment today to enjoy your favourite sort of magic, and that you get to do a little bit of what you want to do. If you can find a few minutes for a sip of sparkly wine and a sandwich, all the better.
Season’s Greetings, and I look forward to being in the kitchen more often and spending more time with you here. Maybe even in daylight.