Sauerbraten (sour brotten) sure tastes better than it sounds, which is why it made it onto the menu Christmas Day, along with a duck. Considering the marinading process began last Tuesday, and only culminated with the roasting of the beef, Sunday afternoon, I am here to tell you, it was succulent.
We always discuss the Christmas Day menu months in advance, going right back to our first Christmas together, in 1981. There have even been some years when we followed a theme, such as that of a Dickensian Christmas, complete with goose and plum pudding.
We ordered the goose from the small meat market in Willits, the name of which slips my mind, probably because it was not I who placed the order. We all know who that was, the maestro behind the feasts here on-farm, that we all take for granted, Gluten-Free Mama.
Christmas Day was darn near outdone by Christmas Eve’s tamale-fest, complete with pork, chicken, or veggie tamales. They were accompanied by Mexican-styled rice and pinto beans, simmered all day Friday so as to be able to further absorb the spices in the fridge overnight.
Yo quiero tamales! Me gustan los tamales, todos los días del ano!
But if I had tamales every day of my life, I would not have been as excited about the sauerbraten, the German dish I had implored Gluten-Free Mama to prepare, starting last September. It’s not that she was opposed so much as we were just mulling it over, much the way the crushed ginger snaps, onions and assorted spices mulled things over in the Dutch Oven, after mulling things over in the marinade for five days.
What an explosion of unique flavors, with a vinegary, tangy taste that leaves one’s taste buds clamoring for your attention. I poured the gravy that GF-Mama made over everything: beef, duck, tiny potatoes, gluten-free flat noodles, and roasted cabbage, a German feast fit for a king.
This was not a dish that was served on Fellowship Street, down in SoCal where I was brought up, but my father started expanding his cooking horizons, when he moved up here on the mountain, in 1977. GF Mama has vivid memories of Robert preparing this dish for us and the boys, when they were small.
My father loved that the boys never showed up at his table, without flexing their appetites, and it didn’t matter what was served. So with as much tender, tasty beef, with mashed potatoes and probably banana squash, the boys would have been in Paradise, with Grandpa beaming.
HeadSodBuster and SmallBoy were here yesterday, with BossLady back in Ohio to be with her mama and her grandma for Christmas. While the sauerbraten was roasting, we were watching films on TV. I was also in the same room, but was more focused on the occasion and my jigsaw puzzle, than I was on the television.
I had recorded many of the selections for exactly this type of gathering, and was satisfied that they served their purpose. The name of the game was “take a break,” and we all wore varsity sweaters.
Ryan and Caveman from FUBAR Farms joined us, being too far away from immediate family, and accepting our invitation as extended family, which certainly describes Ryan. Though I was only meeting Caveman for the first time, he seemed a gentle and appreciative soul, and we were happy to have provided the venue that we did.
We basked in the knowledge that though there were numerous challenges this past year, we not only met them head-on, we managed to garner eleventh place in the Emerald Cup for our “Great Success.”
As John Prine sang, “Memories-they can’t be boughten-they can’t be won at carnivals for free,,,”