Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A White Christmas, Surprise Party and Then Some

My brother Jonny, back in the day

I've not been posting because there was a plot afoot.  We were traveling to Columbia, Missouri- the place of my birth- to pay a surprise visit to my brother Jon on his 60th birthday.  David and I drove out with my brother Alex and his wife Betsy and my brother Chris flew in to join the party.

Without a doubt Jon was surprised!  What fun for the five of us to walk into a friends winter solstice party, where Jon was hanging out in the kitchen drinking a beer, and render him almost speechless.  We spent most of the day on Wednesday cooking a birthday dinner that included a smoked turkey and brussels sprouts raised by Alex and Betsy, leeks, potatoes and salad raised by Jon and Candy. 

To break up the cooking we took a walk around Jon and Candy's land.  They have an amazing ravine in their backyard, complete with bluffs and caves. Typical of the area, limestone predominates the landscape. 

An ice flow in one of the washes.

Several recipes and cooks were called into action to recreate the famous black bottom pie that our mother had made for many years as Jon's favorite and always requested birthday dessert.  The original recipe has been lost so there was a bit of discussion about which way to go, we settled on a traditional crust for one and a chocolate cookie crust for the second with same fillings for each.   We also all agreed to use the maximum amount of chocolate recommended, 6 ounces per pie, and voted for whipped cream folded into the middle custard layer instead of whipped egg whites.  As we say in our family, we were able to choke it down.
Jonny with his birthday pies

In fact, I knew I was truly on holiday when Jon, and I still in my pj's, had pie with our coffee on Thursday morning, December 23rd, his actual birthday.

The sad news was he had to go to work on his birthday.  So here he is, dapper in his green ensemble, ready to head off to the clinic.
Turns out the main reason his crew wanted him to work on his birthday was that they too had been hatching a plot.  We stopped by his office later to see that they had gone all out in decorating the place with multiple "over the hillville" props.  Alex and David try out the hearing aid and cane.

"Tease me about my age and I'll hit you with my cane"

Friday morning we woke up to about 6 inches of snow so we had to go out and play.
It was an action packed week filled with good times, great food and family all together.  We drove home in one fell swoop on Christmas day in an effort to beat the snow, somewhat successfully.  The same storm that brought 6 inches to Missouri was pounding theVirginia's about the time we got there on Christmas day at dark and we had to drive through the snow for several harrowing hours over the mountains.  Fortunately we came through to the other side of the storm right about the time we had to hit the back roads and were able to get Alex and Betsy back to the farm and then drove on reaching our house by 11 PM before the worst of the weather hit central NC. Phew!  When we woke up the next morning to 4 inches of snow here and still coming down, I was sure gald to be home in my own bed and not stuck on the highway or somewhere in a cheap motel.

So glad we went, so glad to be back home.

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