Merry Christmas 2011

It’s Christmas eve as I write this. The presents are all wrapped and huddled under the tree. The tree is beautiful this year, a good 9 1/2 footer, a noble fir, all decked out in little white lights and sparkly ornaments. The bright orange and red leaves of the Japanese maples that filled the yard with color just a few weeks ago, when the above photo was taken, have all fallen, so more sun is coming through the windows than usual. There’s still a little activity in the garden. The chard survived the recent frost and the parsley is having a party out there. The orange tree is festive with oranges, and we have plenty of pomegranates from this year’s crop. Gorgeous fat beauties they are. Our menu is set for the big dinner, which for the first time in the history of our family, I am actually in charge of cooking. Dad said, “It’s your turn” and I agreed. Wish me luck! It’s the big joke in the family, the one with the cooking site who usually can only cook one thing at a time, and takes three times longer than normal to cook it because I’m so busy writing notes and taking pictures. Dad’s job this year is to make and bring the pineapple upside down cake, our favorite dessert of them all, and one for which my dad needs absolutely no arm twisting to agree to make.

This year, instead of the usually holiday bustle a week before Christmas, I flew out to Oklahoma to hang out with my sisters in food blogging, Ree Drummond and Jaden Hair at Ree’s ranch outside of Tulsa. Have you ever been to Oklahoma? I’ve got to tell you, it’s gorgeous country. For a slight change of pace, I thought I would share some of the photos of that trip.

Ree, aka The Pioneer Woman of blogging and Food Network fame, and her husband Ladd are ranchers, and this is the scene that greeted us upon arrival. Wild mustangs, and big open sky as far as you can see in all directions.

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My boyfriend Guy (that’s pronounced “Gee” with a hard “g”, he’s French) and I, and Jaden and her family stayed up at “The Lodge” a large guest house on a bluff overlooking miles of rangeland.

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One afternoon we all got to work with the cowboys. I say “we”, but mostly what “we” did was watch. Jaden sat on her horse and took a conference call (busted!) Jaden’s husband Scott and Guy rode off with the cowboys to round up some calves for branding and inoculations.

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And then Guy couldn’t take watching anymore, so he hopped off his horse where we had been safely viewing the activities and jumped in with the cowboys to wrestle calves down to the ground. (He’s the one in the blue shirt wearing sneakers.) It’s hard, physical work. No wonder these cowboys have big appetites!

A highlight of the trip was getting to meet Charlie. He’s the ranch basset hound with “pond breath” and star quality character. (Ree wrote an adorable children’s book about him: Charlie the Ranch Dog.)

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Charlie and his cohort basset hound Walter trotted 2 miles up the hill from Ree’s house to visit us at the lodge and promptly slept all day on the couch.

When we weren’t following Charlie’s lead and sleeping in or lounging around in our PJs, we sat around telling stories and silly jokes. Ree kept us well fed with lasagna, her famous burgundy mushrooms, and a lodge well stocked with goodies. (Thank you Ree!) I love my girlfriends.

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Now we’re back home, another year coming to a close, with warm memories of good times with friends, of love and hugs.

Merry Christmas to you dear readers, and Happy New Year. May your holidays be bright and in the company of those you love.

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63 Comments

  1. Loren

    Good Morning and Merry Christmas, Elise…thanks for the amazing effort you give all of your eager readers. You are the gift! Warm wishes for a new year filled with joy and inspiration!
    Loren :-))

  2. tj

    …I always visit but usually don’t comment but I just wanted to take this time to ‘thank you’ for doing what you do! And to wish you a very Merry Christmas to you & yours! *

  3. Sarah

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Elise! That trip looked like a great way to rest before tackling the big Christmas feast. I’m sure it will be delicious and timely… Man can I related to being a slow cook.

  4. Val

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thanks for the wonderful recipes and stories all year. I enjoy your site very much. All the best for the new year to you as well.

  5. Midwestern Mary

    I’m the first one up in my home, and I had a Groupon I needed to print, hah, so I saw this and had to say: Merry Christmas, Elise!!!

  6. Mary Kelly

    What could be more beautiful than the wind blowing through a horses mane. And at sunset, too.

    Dogs getting their bellies rubbed.

    A great pile of leaves behind a metal fence.

  7. Mary Lynn

    Merry Christmas to you!

    I made your Cranberry Pecan Rice salad and took it to the family Christmas Eve get-together and it was a big hit!

    When I said I got the recipe from ‘Simply Recipes” my niece chirped, “Oh, I love her blog.”

  8. shaz

    Merry Christmas to you & yours! Thankyou for your blog & all of your hard work. It makes this “non-cook” just that wee bit more confident in the kitchen. Have fun!

  9. Jane

    Merry Christmas to your and your family, and wishing you a stockpot full of happiness and joy!

    Love your blog and recipes; you’re always my first “go to” for ideas…

    Jane H.
    Chelmsford, MA

  10. Barb

    Thank you for the gift of your site. I rarely go to a cookbook anymore, but rather pick up my iPhone and check out what Simply Recipes tells me to do. Happy holidays!

  11. sally cameron

    Merry Christmas Elise! So glad to yet have met you this year. Thanks for all of the advice. We have really grown this year. Love the photo of you with the red Beret! You look terrific, and happy! Best to your folks. Sure would love to meet them one day. Hugs and peace!

  12. Tomoko

    Merry Christmas Elise. Your work on this site and your wonderful cheer have made my life immeasurably richer and filled with goodness. Thank you so much for helping me provide great things for my family’s meals.

    Love to you and yours,
    Tomoko

  13. Juliana

    Elise, I just wanted to thank you for another year of great recipes! Kudos for getting to spend time with the pioneer woman! I love her dog! Merry Christmas,I raise my glass to you!

  14. anna

    Thank you for all the wonderful recipes and hardwork you put into this site. I have been following you for years after having discovered you when we were both eatwell members.

    It is my favorite food blog and my go-to location for recipes. You and your family inspire me to try new things, stay local, and eat well.

    I wish you this best in 2012!

  15. Kathleen

    Thank you, sincerely, for all you have given me. We spent the day in the kitchen chopping and mincing and making memories with a lot of guidance from you.

  16. Diane

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Elise! Thank you (& them!) for sharing so many of your family’s treasures (AKA recipes) with us.

  17. Judy

    Merry Christms, Elise and family…since finding your blog, and trying so many of your scrumptious recipes, Simply Recipes has become my favorite source for great food ideas and fun comraderie that you encourage among your readers. You deserve all the hugs you get and then some. Have a wonderful holiday season filled with all the blessings and joy that you bring to us every day. You know, I love the idea of hugs, it’s such a universal gesture of affection. I challenge you to come up with a Hugs recipe! Something round and sweet, hugged with “something else”. How about it? :-)
    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  18. Peter

    Joyeux Noël, Elise et copain! I want to thank you for so many delicious meals this year. Your simple preparations and imaginative pairings have given us so much pleasure. Food blogs and web site now are a dime-a-dozen. Yours, however, is sterling. Thanks so much for all you do and share.

  19. Marla

    Hi Elise! It is so fun to get a peek at what you have been up to. Sounds like a wonderful trip to the ranch. Those hound dogs are so dang cute, bet fun to meet them regardless of the pond breath ;)
    Hope your Christmas was grand & your new year happy, bright and filled with love. xxoo

    Happy holidays to you Marla! ~Elise

  20. Sara

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes you’ve posted this year and looking forward to ‘cooking together’ next year too :)

  21. BONNIE JOHNSON

    ELISE–HOW IN THE WORLD DID YOU MANAGE GETTING OUT OF HOSTING ALL THESE YEARS?! I AM NOW A SENIOR WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS THAT SLOWS ME DOWN A LOT, BUT MY 2ND DAUGHTER HAS TAKEN OVER & WHAT A KITCHEN WHIZ SHE IS! SHE STARTED AT 9, & WATCHED MY EVERY MOVE, AS SHE SAYS. SHE HAS SURPASSED ME & EVERYONE WANTS TO EAT AT HER HOUSE! WHEN EVENTS ARE HERE & I FEEL LESS THAN ABLE, SHE & MY OLDEST TAKE OVER & IT IS LIKE WATCHING ”POETRY IN MOTION”, THEY WORK SO WELL TOGETHER! SHE THINKS IT NO BIG DEAL THAT SHE CAN WORK IN HER MOM’S KITCHEN AS THOUGH IT WERE HER OWN!! DITTO TO ALL THE GOOD COMMENTS FROM EVERYONE ELSE! LOVED THE PICTURES. HAVE A GREAT 2012!

  22. Chipper

    I recently stumbled across your blog while looking for a recipe for Swedish Meatballs. Every since then I have enjoyed it very much. Merry Christmas to you and your family and thank you for the time you spend sharing you love of cooking.

  23. Cristina

    Merry Christmas to you, Elise. I’m from Romania and I always visit your site because is one of my favorite. Thank you for all this great receipes. I also, wish you, a Happy New Year !!

    Cristina

  24. al

    Elise. Your Christmas article was very heart warming and brought back fond memories. Enjoyed reading about your visit to your sisters ranch. I too have a ranch and enjoy cooking. My 5 horses and 3 dogs along with the 20 or so people that attended the Christmas dinner I prepared had a wonderful time and none left hungry. Looking forward to the New Year and hope you and your family have a wonderful 2012.

  25. Patricia M

    Merry Christmas Elise!! I love your website. I check in at least twice a week and really enjoy reading some of the stories in addition to trying many of your fabulous recipes. Please let us know how dinner turned out – I am sure it was amazing.
    Happy New Year to you and your family.

    Thanks Patricia, and Merry Christmas to you! Dinner turned out beautifully, thank you for asking, mostly because I had lots of hands to help. Prime Rib, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage with chestnuts, green beans, it was a feast. Cheers, ~Elise

  26. Scott

    Good Morning, Elise, and Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and yours! I landed on your page this morning looking for your recipe for Biscuits and Sausage Gravy and saw this post. It reminded me of the past year in which we have tried and (for the most part)successfully re-created your excellent recipes. We owe a lot of terrific family meals to you and we are grateful for that. Much like homemade stock (which now is a necessity, thanks to you…lol), you have added richness and depth to our kitchen! We look forward to cooking with you in 2012!!

  27. Patty Kosley

    Merry Christmas Elise…So nice to put a face on the recipe link I’ve had on my homepage for some time. I will enjoy your recipes all the more now. I also subscribed so I can get them on Facebook to share with my friends. Many thanks….. Patty

  28. Novelismo

    thank you, Elise, for the many wonderful and inspirational recipes … I wish for you many happy returns … let us know if you ever come near Charlottesville or Richmond, Virginia — Christian Gehman

  29. Debbie

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, To you and your family. I just started looking at your web page a few months ago and I really enjoyed looking at what you have posted. Thank You Elise, for sharing your holiday joys with all of us. Thanks

  30. Marcia Parliament

    Hi Elise, I wish you and your family and friends a very happy holiday. Thank you for this wonderful website. I enjoy the recipes and your charming anecdotes accompanying them. The organization of your recipes and appealing photographic presentation make it the best food blog on the internet, in my opinion.

  31. Mary Jo

    Dear Elise, this is my go-to blog/foodie site. The recipes are tried and true, AND accurate. Oh, and did I mention delicious?! Just reading the pages makes me hungry :-) and your instructions are e z to follow. I only get rave reviews… and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
    Happy New Year to all!
    mj

  32. Andrea Winchester

    Merry, merry Christmas to you and yours, Elise! It brought a smile to my face to see your adventures with friends on Ree’s ranch. What a blast!
    Thanks for sharing your life and of course the delicious recipes!

    Merry Christmas to you to Andrea! ~Elise

  33. Reese

    Elise, wishing you and your family the happiest of New Years. You give all of your readers so much more than good recipes. :-)

  34. Maryfe

    Happy New Year Elise! Thank you so much for the wonderful recipes on your site. You have no idea how much help you have given me on those days when I have no clue on what to put on the dinner table.
    XOXO

  35. Deb in Indiana

    Elise, I thank you again for the work that you devote to providing consistently high-quality recipes on this site. There are thousands of recipe sites, but who knows whether the posters have even tried the recipe? Or whether they’ve transcribed it correctly? Or whether they even can tell good food when they attempt it?

    It makes me very grateful for your hard work and for the contributions of your commenters, who, unlike on most blogs, usually share the results of their attempt at the dish, rather than just chiming in, “ooh, that looks so good.” (I’ll bet I’m not the only one who starts reading comments at the bottom first, to get the stories from those who have actually cooked the dish!)

    My daughter, the only cook among her group of college student room-mates and friends, won’t try many internet recipes because she has no basis for believing the recipes will turn out. We have faith in you, though, and we enjoy the wide range of comments.

    Thanks, and happy New Year.

    Thank you Deb and Happy New Year to you too! ~Elise

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