The Christmas on Fire

Christmas tradition in the country of my birth includes setting food on fire. The country in question is the United Kingdom, and the food is Christmas pudding. The pudding comes after the main course, which often involves turkey roasted in the oven.

Our main course yesterday was lamb. To be more specific, I used Alton Brown’s Silence of the Leg O’ Lamb recipe. I bought a six-pound leg (without the shank), already boned, rolled, and tied. I made the lovely paste of garlic, mint leaves, mustard, and so on and smeared it on the leg.I fired up the grill, emptying the drip tray first.

When the grill’s built-in thermometer read 500 F, I put in the lamb, in such a way that it was not over a flame. I flipped it a little over 20 minutes later. It looked a little more charred that I’d expected, but things seem to be going well. I went inside to the kitchen to tend to other dishes, such as mashed potatoes, and a simple but successful combination of snow peas, bacon, and white wine.

I was summoned from the kitchen with the news that the grill required my attention. There was a rather impressive fire, originating from the drip tray. No photos or videos were taken; I’m not sure whether that’s good new or bad news.

From this point on, the story becomes happier, if less exciting. I turned off the gas. The fire went out. I emptied the drip tray again. I turned the gas back on. I served the lamb a little later than intended, with the exterior rather more charred than intended. But the inside was tasty, much of it pink. The main course was not followed by Christmas pudding, or by any further fire.

I hope that you have eaten well this holiday season, and that you have been safe from fire and other hazards.

A Disney Christmas


Originally uploaded by AndWat.

On Christmas Day, we flew down to Orlando to spend a few days at Disney World. It was the first time there for me and for the kids (who are 8 and 5). I was not one of those wearing a “first time” badge, partly because I see going to Disney as a once in a lifetime thing – as in once is interesting, and enough.

We had three full days, plus some time in each of our travel days. We visited Epcot, the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Downtown Disney. So we didn’t make it to Hollywood Studios. The number of attractions we fitted in were limited by a few factors, including time taken waiting for, and travelling on shuttle buses, and crowds.

Ah yes, the crowds. It was crowded just after Christmas, and seemed to be becoming more so for new year (by which time we were home in Maryland).. Although I don’t like crowds or lines, I was fascinated by the way Disney moves so many people through the parks and attractions, and manages the lines.

I wished more lines were like the one for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which went past things for kids to do while waiting. Even if it’s only pushing plastic bees along a bead maze, it helps make the wait go by more quickly for all concerned. That same ride is also eligible for FASTPASS, the system by which you can get a ticket that tells you to return at a later time and pretty much go right in past the line. We were in the line itself, though, since the FASTPASS system didn’t allow us to overlap reservations.

We of course took many photos, including this rather unoriginal shot of palm trees and Spaceship Earth. We didn’t take that particular ride through time and space… well, perhaps there will be another Disney visit for us.


M&M by Various ArtistsToday is, of course, the official birthday of one Jesus. However you celebrate it, or don’t celebrate it, I hope it’s a good day for you. Tomorrow is the 5th birthday of my daughter Maddie. Here’s a picture of her and her younger brother. She started the picture, but someone older (not me) finished it off.

I had a rather round-numbered birthday a few days ago. Presents included a print by a local artist, books, and a rather retro music CD. The CD format itself is retro, and not my usual medium for music these days, but this year’s reissue of Nick Lowe’s Jesus of Cool album has enough in the way of artwork, liner notes, etc., for me to ask for it.

The album originally came out 30 years ago. In the USA, it was called Pure Pop For Now People, for fear that the original UK title would offend. Here’s a track that didn’t appear on the album, but appears on the reissue in the form of the demo version. “Cruel to be Kind” includes one of my favorite rock rhymes: “You say your love is bona fide/ But that don’t coincide/ With the things that you do.”