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In the ever-changing dance that is holiday food preparation, this year will be yet another "new" plan.

To recap, with the Daughter now married and a mom, she wants to start incorporating new traditions at her home. And she should.

But she also has a very large family of in-laws all in town; her dad and brother in town, and me, who inconveniently moved 27 miles down the road eight years ago.

What we all don't want is stress during the holidays. So we pick and choose and make new traditions and new memories. And as long as we're together, when it is or where we are shouldn't matter.

This year, we'll gather at her home late morning on Christmas Day for a gift exchange and some nibbles with just her tiny side of the family. We'll clear out in plenty of time for them to get to the large in-law gathering in late afternoon.

And then I get just the tiny group at my Christmas house over the weekend (love when Christmas is on Friday!)

So they love my casual Christmas Eve supper of chowder and ham sandwiches -- and they really love the prime rib that I finally figured out how to cook. And since they can't be there for both, they're getting both -- and lots more -- all at the same time.

There will be food -- all kinds -- just ready for whenever anyone wants to eat. No formal dinner, no assigned seating, just food -- meat and nibbles and probably chowder, especially if it's cold. If it isn't exactly a magazine display, so what? And if some are in their pajamas, that's all right too.

I won't worry if there isn't a whole meal represented, and I absolutely will have the olives and pickles and deviled eggs -- which they expected when they walked in on Thanksgiving. (I invoked Peggy Jane the Mom's rule of starving everyone before Thanksgiving dinner).

So here's to food -- we celebrate it and enjoy it, as well as those we are with.

For you I have yummy pancakes, and a rerun of a very popular version of prime rib. Whatever you choose, get some rest, don't stress, and enjoy your time.


Spiced Eggnog Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups dairy or canned eggnog
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil

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In a large bowl, combine flour and other dry ingredients. In a second bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Stir eggnog mixture into flour mixture until slightly lumpy.

Heat a lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto griddle. Cook until golden; turn when tops are bubbly and edges are slightly dry (1 to 2 minutes per side). Makes 16 pancakes.

Cranberry Syrup:

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Heat all in large skillet until cranberries soften and begin to pop.

(Recipe courtesy of bhg.com)

Salt-Encrusted Prime Rib

  • 1 box (3 pounds) kosher salt (about 6 cups), divided
  • 1 bone-in beef rib roast (6 to 8 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 450. Line a shallow roasting pan with heavy-duty foil. Place 3 cups salt on foil, spreading to form a 1/2-inch layer.

Brush roast with Worcestershire sauce; sprinkle with pepper and garlic powder. Place roast on layer of salt; fat side up. In a small bowl, mix water and remaining salt (mixture should be just moist enough to pack). Beginning at the base of the roast, press salt mixture onto the sides and top of roast.

Roast 15 minutes. Reduce oven setting to 325. Use meat thermometer! Roast 2 to 2-1/4 hours or until a thermometer reaches 145 for medium. (Temperature of roast will continue to rise about 15 degrees upon standing). Let stand 20 minutes.

Remove and discard salt crust; brush away any remaining salt. Carve roast into slices. Serves 10.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home," December 2013)

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