It’s fitting, I suppose that the year’s longest night brings a close to a stretch of the longest weeks of the year. At work, we’ve been awash in Christmas parties ever since the weekend directly following Thanksgiving. When all is said and done, I’ll be curious to hear how many people we fed; I’m guessing it’s in the neighborhood of a couple of thousand.
This afternoon I was thinking through a rough calculation of ingredients I’ve gone through this month. The list is by no means comprehensive, rather just what lept easily and obviously to mind as I was putting together the next-to-the-last dessert buffet (for the week, at least). Deeper thought is completely out of the question until I’ve had some deep sleep in a new year. Most days lately, I’m not sure I should even be driving a car.
INGREDIENTS (well, some of them at least) FOR ENDLESS CHRISTMAS PARTY DESSERTS
39 pounds cream cheese (which went into 26 cheesecakes)
30 pounds bittersweet chocolate (some became 8 gallons of chocolate mousse; I label it Chock Moose in the walk-in refrigerator, because I have to have little fun somewhere and I just love seeing the cooks give me that squinty corner-of-the-eyes stare, wondering if they dare challenge my don’t-f*#&-with-me look to ask if maybe I’ve lost my mind)
15 pounds white chocolate
10 pounds cocoa powder
200 pounds sugar
Strawberries – several harvests worth
Flour, butter, cream, eggs – numbers don’t go that high
For a change, I didn’t have to get to work terribly early this morning. While last night’s party was a large one, tonight’s was small, just 35 people. Their dessert buffet was going to mirror that of yet another large group we hosted on Friday night, so much of the work was already done.
Hooray, I’d have time to get a 14-dozen batch of cinnamon rolls into the freezer, along with several dozen kaiser rolls and some morning pastries. I could breathe. I could drink coffee in bed while waiting for sun to (finally) rise.
I love the winter solstice. Because, while 7:30 this morning bore a disturbing resemblance to 7:30 last night, tonight will be as long and as dark as it gets. It’s all downhill from here. The winter solstice is for optimists: it’s amazing how quickly we start to perceive additional minutes of light at both ends of days.
Christmas usually finds me feeling very like the Tailor of Gloucester: “‘Alak, I am worn to a raveling,’ said the Tailor of Gloucester.” So when the sun, such as it was, finally made a wan appearance close to 8:00, I creaked my achy, tired self out of bed. I needed to get a batch of the daughter’s favorite cookies made to tuck into a package that HAD to get in the mail to her today.
Time being of the essence, I set them on the 20-degree front porch to cool.
Within minutes there was a rapid bang! bang! on the front door. No doorbell. Just a couple of rapid thumps. Hmmmm. I opened the door, and on the step just above the cooling cookies was a FedEx package.
Oh yay! The cake pans! A couple of weeks ago, I’d ordered sets of good, professional-quality pans and decorating equipment for my daughter-in-law and my nephew’s girlfriend, both of whom have graciously consented to do some recipe testing for me. I had been drumming my fingers for days after having received an email confirmation that all had shipped, and suddenly here they were (I’d already let the ladies in question know that one of their presents would be late arriving).
But here’s the thing: the truck was nowhere in sight. I hadn’t heard it depart. Heck, I didn’t even know FedEx worked on Saturday (UPS doesn’t). Between setting the cookies on the porch and the bangs on the door, a light snow had begun to fall. Yet there was not a single footprint in the snow. Not one.
I could almost believe Santa had delivered the box.
On second thought, Santa would have taken the cookies.