Each year after Christmas, after Bill and I are relatively settled into our AZ house, we have a couple of immediate objectives: First, we have to figure out where everything is. Not just location of items in our house, but also things like remembering the layout of the Costco store here in Mesa (where oh where is the toilet paper?) and which direction we turn to get to Home Depot. It always takes a week or so until we can remember such details. We use up a lot of gasoline looking for things in the meantime.
Second, we have to begin our annual year-end Beef Binge. Colons: Start Your Engines.
Actually, this year the Beef Binge began early, on Christmas Eve, when I served our family the annual Christmas Eve feast. In the recent past, I have prepared a couple of kinds of clam chowders and sliced a pork tenderloin for sandwiches. This year, I wanted something a bit more festive, but didn’t want to prepare it myself. So I let Whole Foods do the cooking, and we ate prime rib and beef tenderloin for our Christmas Eve dinner prepared by their staff.
For the past four or five years, my brother Dave has picked us up at the airport (and, happily – given the boarding pass fiasco about which I wrote yesterday – we were actually there as planned), and we go to The Mining Camp Restaurant where his wife – my sister-in-law – works as a server, and have dinner. What’s on the menu? Well, a number of things – it’s a family-style feast – but the star of the show are the beef ribs.
Our tradition for years has been that my sister Jen (who always comes to Phoenix on Christmas Day and stays until New Year’s Day) prepares dinner the day after Christmas for the family. As an aside, the day after Christmas is Boxing Day in Great Britain and its colonies, and the Feast of St. Stephen – an observed holiday in many other European countries. Though it’s true that we didn’t have a single boxing match, what we DID have (and what we ALWAYS have) is a beef tenderloin. Perhaps appropriately, until the late 19th century, there was a Welsh custom to bleed the livestock on the Feast of Stephen. I’m not sure whether or not Good King Wenceslas bled any livestock when he looked out on the Feast of Stephen, per the famous Christmas carol. But though we ate beef tenderloin, I assure you there was no bleeding involved. From further review, I learned that it was traditional to whip the female servants for good luck on that day. There was no whipping at our beef feast.
New Year’s Day always features a prime rib dinner in our family, and has since I can remember. I have vivid memories of my mother arising early on New Year’s Day, pulling out the standing rib roast from the refrigerator, heavily seasoning it with garlic and rosemary and thyme and salt and pepper, and letting it sit until it was at room temperature. She would put it into the oven, and the delicious smell of roasting beef drove us crazy until we could finally sit down and eat.
In those days, she cooked mostly for our family of six, though little by little, in-laws began showing up at the table. Eventually we kids took over the tradition. I prepared many, many prime ribs on New Year’s Day. On more occasions than I care to recall, I served prime rib to our college-aged children who had a slightly green tinge to their skin and were quite bleary-eyed from too much fun the night before. But the prime rib never went to waste.
My sister Bec has taken on the role of Preparer of the New Year’s Prime Rib as of late, and so we will be adding to our colon’s beef supply on New Year’s Day as we celebrate with our family. She currently has an 18-lb. standing rib roast in her freezer.
Rumor also has it that a roast beef will appear at my brother’s birthday party this evening as well. Can you ever have too much beef?
Presuming our colons haven’t seized up and are all functioning on January 2, we will all be eating nothing but chicken and fish for the rest of the month.
Well, except for the occasional hamburger or six. They don’t count, do they?