Where We Are … (Hannah)
Maldives … Who are we kidding, it’s back to the beach for the final stretch! We’ve traded the Magic Sleigh for a chartered a luxury yacht to take us to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. We’ll spend the day snorkeling and scuba diving, meeting giant sea turtles and whale sharks. (click your cursor on the white line between images to see what we saw)
What We Eat … (Sandy)
(French Cheese Puffs)
These charming, little hors d’oeuvres are the perfect complement to a bottle of wine for a stay-at-home New Year’s Eve celebration. In Burgundy, where Gougeres (say goo-SHARE) originated, they are served warm or at room temperature, sometimes with soup or salad. Think of them as miniature popovers.
Gougeres are easy and inexpensive to make. I follow this recipe clipped in the 1990s from an early issue of Saveur, a food and travel magazine.
- 8 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ cup water
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 cup flour
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1½ cups grated Gruyere cheese
Combine butter, ½ cup of the milk, and the ½ cup of water in a medium saucepan over high heat.
Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg; bring the mixture to a boil. When the butter is melted, remove the pan from heat.
Add the flour all at once, then stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a thick dough and pulls away from the sides of the pan. (1-2 minutes)
Return the pan to heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and let dough cool to room temperature.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated into the mixture and the dough is smooth after each addition. (Tip: Use large, not extra large, eggs. In this case bigger is not better.)
The batter will be slippery and a little hard to beat, but it will eventually absorb the eggs and become a thick, smooth, shiny dough.
Add one cup of the cheese and beat in until well combined.
Spoon tablespoon-size mounds of dough (I use a cookie scoop for uniformity.) on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, 1” apart.
Brush tops with the remaining ¼ cup milk, then sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of cheese.
Bake in 400’ preheated oven until Gougeres have doubled in size and are golden, 20-25 minutes.
Yield: 2-3 dozen, depending on the size.
Note: The recipe can be halved to make a smaller batch. Gougeres keep for days refrigerated.
What We Listen To … (Jacob)
Paul McCartney – Mull of Kintyre
Wrapping up the year on a Scottish note, this one goes out to my parents and the dream that all young people share: to make something of their own and to have someone to share the journey with.
What Makes us Laugh … (Patrick)
And this is why the Snow Pants Rule was invented. The Snow Pants rule is that you have to stay outside at least twice as long as it took to put on your snow pants.
What Amuses Us (Whitney)
When Harry Met Sally takes the audience through several holiday seasons of its two leads, played by Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. It is one of the great NYC flicks, showcasing its parks, museums, and restaurants, and its sensibility captures the feeling of figuring out life in the city. Culminating in an impeccable New Year’s Eve speech, it is a light, enjoyable way to mark the end of the year and celebrate your loved ones. I’ve seen it so many times, revisiting it feels like spending time with old friends.
What Makes Us Family (Stephen)
We were in the Azores for New Year’s in 2016. The weather was very spring-like and mercurial, changing dramatically from moment to moment. We spent the days exploring tiny, seaside towns. On one of our daily walks we came across these teenagers rapping. (This is the most-viewed video of any that I have posted on YouTube.com.)