Since we did the whole “Zenith pre-made vegan meal” thingie for Thanksgiving this year, I wanted Henry to actually do some cooking for Christmas and of course nothing NORMAL because why would we. So I did that fun game that I do where I think of a random vegetable and then a random country, and google them together to find fun international cuisine. You can imagine how much Henry loves this. But it was also a reason to have my beloved fufu and peanut soup again, which I became obsessed with early in 2020 when I read a book that mentioned it and I fell down a Ghana food rabbit hole.
Henry was fine with this, having made this pairing twice now and coming out the other side with a memorable, edible meal both times.
I also wanted mashed ube in lieu of your standard Pilgrim fare of mashed potatoes.
Of course, Henry had a hell of a time finding the two main ingredients he needed for the fufu and the ube: cassava, and well, ube. On Christmas Eve, he ended up snatching up some Japanese purple yams and was going to just use those for the mash instead which was NOT IN THE AGREEMENT, but you do you, Chef BoyRDick.
Also, I had recently watched season 2 of Emily in Paris and one of the episodes featured a storyline where Emily had to work on a marketing campaign for leeks and I was like, “Ooh I could go for some leeks” which is how “Sri Lankan leek stir fry with faux lamb” inserted itself onto the menu.
Those Portuguese sweet potato rolls from Thanksgiving 2020 were bangers so that was added to fill the obligatory “Christmas dinner roll”, er, role. We ordered some boxes of Trinidadian sweets from local vegan pop-up ShadoBeni. Korean street food tteokbokki and a Field Roast vegan ham were necessities. And a Russian apple cake called Sharlotka was the featured dessert.
As a last minute buffet-padder, we bought some lotus mooncakes, red bean mooncakes, and mochi cakes from Pink Box on Christmas. Seriously Diane, don’t knock the Chinese desserts. They are GOOD.
Also as a last minute thing, we decided to expand this from a 3-person dinner to a 6-person dinner, feeling that this was a safe number, and invited my brothers Ryan and Corey, and my mom. I was actually surprised that my mom and Ryan accepted the invitation! We have never had a “family” dinner at my house before, so I was feeling kind of nervous about it!
Anyway, I’ll spare you the gory details but at one point that afternoon, I smelled that sickening stench of hot rubber and ran into the kitchen to find Henry having an absolute war with the fufu mixture. Apparently, he followed a different recipe this time which led him astray. Basically, fufu is a dough made of cassava and plantain, or one or the other. Fufu has different versions based on various African regions (I think Puerto Rico also has their own fufu style) but Henry likes to use both cassava and plantain. Anyway, whatever this recipe had him doing resulted in him straight up burning out the blender and then trying to use a SIEVE to separate the non-ground chunks from what he was able to salvage from the fufu mixture. This set him back a good hour and resulted in him not having enough to use anyway, and then it got all clogged up in the sink and he was FUMING. Like, Henry doesn’t often get mad-mad, but he was MAD on this afternoon, lol. He ended up making rice to go with the peanut soup instead.
Then, the sweet potato rolls gave him hell and ended up not baking thoroughly but we still ate them and they tasted good; however, he only made enough for everyone to have ONE like we’re fucking peasants.
THEN!! Everyone arrived and we were eating when I realized that HENRY DIDN’T MAKE THE FUCKING PURPLE MASHED POTATOES after all that searching for ube and then triumphantly returning with a comparable substitute, only to make them at all! And also, I had asked him to make SPAETZLE even though he’s not my PAPPAP and no one could ever make spaetzle as good as John W. Stonick, but I at least would have liked for Henry to try!
“After the fufu incident, the last thing I wanted to do was fuck with more dough,” he said to me and everyone at the table gave me a “Yeah, Erin” smirk.
Also, I was so stressed that I barely took any pictures of the food, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.
I love decorating the buffet for holiday meals! This was prior to setting all of the food. “All” of the food, like we had “so much.” LOL.
This was when we were still waiting for Ryan to arrive. It occurred to me then that he had never been to my house before, and I have lived here since 1999! It’s not that Ryan and I don’t like each other. My family in general is just not very “OMG FAMILY HANGOUT TIME!” with the exception of Corey and me – we have always gotten along like BFFs who enjoy touring seriously stupid places and acting like world class assholes. And then not only has Ryan never been here, but he also thought I lived on a completely different street, so that was fun, lol.
Also, being his inaugural visit was somewhat of a shock to the senses for Ryan, who just kept laughing and saying, “There’s just so much to take in.”
Everyone seemed to like the peanut soup the best which made me doubly sad that the fufu didn’t turn out because you have not known the true extent of peanut soup’s deliciousness until you scoop it into your gaping maw on an edible airplane of FUFU.
I wonder how hard I will have to beg Henry to do a fufu redo on New Year’s Day….
I realized after the fact that I had barely any pictures and had to resort to photographing half-scavenged plates and platters, lol. Anyway, this apple cake was really light and delectable. Big fan.
My favorite part of dinner wasn’t the tteokbokki or the sweet potato rolls, but the part where Ryan regaled us about the time he and several friends were nearly murdered by the cartel in Mexico and you might think I’m exaggerating but this is a true story and is actually hilarious since they made it out alive but to hear him tell the story sounds like he’s giving a synopsis for a new movie in the Hangover franchise. And you know it’s a funny story when my surly fifteen-year-old who thinks all adults are the worst and totally stupid actually laughs out loud numerous times without even bothering to play it off.
Aside from the food follies, if there is one thing I wish I could go back and time and do over, it would be the moment my mom asked to take a picture of us siblings because in hindsight, I would have said, “ACTUALLY! Here, use my phone.” Or better yet! “Here, let Chooch take the picture with my phone.” Or the best option even: “Here, let’s go stand somewhere nicer and have Chooch take multiple pictures with my phone.”
But, it is what it is and this picture, blurry as it may be, is still better than no picture!
Corey stuck around for booze & game hour.
Penelope waiting for everyone to leave. The cats HATE COMPANY. Lockdown was some of the best months of their lives, really.
Yeah, the official verdict is that this was a nice ass Christmas. Lowkey but still semi-social, and just tiring and fulfilling enough to have us ready for bed by 10:30pm that night!