On Jambalaya and Memories

I probably haven’t mentioned him here, but my favorite professor in college was the late, great Jack Falla. I took two of his classes and he helped me get my first paid journalism job after school (a paid internship with USA Hockey Magazine). When I donated my tiny bit as I graduated, I did it in his honor. We emailed regularly between graduation and his passing, and I helped him with some research for his novel, Saved (in which I actually am in the acknowledgement section. I’m also very fortunate to still have a rough draft of the novel as well. One of those things I will save in a fire).

Anyway, if you took his class in college, you got a recipe of his.

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Some kids, after no longer having him as a professor, got to eat this jambalaya with Jack at his house in Natick after skating on his very famous backyard rink, the Bacon Street Omni. I regret that I was unable to ever make this happen.

I have held on to that recipe for 16 years and have never made it.

I’ve never been the most adventurous person when it comes to food, although I have gotten a lot better over the past decade or so. I am also NOT a person who loves spicy food, and this recipe has some spice in it.

However – and I don’t know what prompted it this year – I finally decided to give it a whirl.

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Wearing a BU sweatshirt, I followed the first instructions of “Start drinking (only if legal age and not driving). And put on a good cajun music CD (Beau Soleil works for me)” … except I threw on the BeauSoleil Pandora station.

I’ve never cooked to music, though I know many who do so regularly, and it made me think it’s something I need to do more often.

The recipe is fairly straightforward and was easy to follow. My husband was in love with the smells starting to emanate from our kitchen.

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It came together nicely and we were both very excited to dig in.

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B was regretful Jack wasn’t alive, because I’m sure he’d have made me send off an email, praising this jambalaya to the heavens. I misread a bit of the recipe on the amount of cayenne pepper to add, taking the spice from the hoped-for wussy quantities to somewhere around the realm of what would be (for me) total nuclear.

We had the leftovers next day with some good friends, tossing on Cajun music once more.

I shared that I had made it in an often dormant FB group, “In Memory of Jack Falla.” I think the last post in the group had been on the 10th anniversary of his passing. His son commented, wishing that I could send some on. I replied that if I could do so affordably, I happily would. His response? “I’m sure you would. Just knowing the recipe lives and friends are thinking about him are enough for me.”

The ones we love who have left us are never truly far away as long as we remember them and keep them alive in our memories and our hearts. Jack, I miss you more than I probably should, but I do. Thanks for sharing this gift with us.

Holidays, 2016

Not including Thanksgiving.

We kicked off our holiday season with a brunch at our house. Everyone does cocktail parties, so why not switch it up and do a brunch, right?

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Desserts.

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Muffins and lunch stuff.

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Bacon and nog toast. Egg nog french toast – only way to consume egg nog. Trust me on this one.

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Drinks. Plus we had coffee.

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Brandon’s corner (that is, the stuff he made).

This kind of ended up being an epic disaster, with people RSVPing and then not showing up and … terrible. We’re never hosting anything again.

In our continued adulting quest, we finally gave in and got a membership to the Denver Botanic Gardens (partially because they have a reciprocity program as well!). With this membership, we got free tickets to both Blossoms of Lights (at the main York location) and to the Trail of Lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms. So, off we went to both.

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Blossoms of Light.

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Blossoms of Light.

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Blossoms of Light.

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Trail of Lights.

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Trail of Lights.

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Trail of Lights.

Brandon had to work, but I was able to make the traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my family.

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Trees and presents.

It went about as well as you’d expect holidays with the family to go. My brother put me down, parents mocked me, I hid, I found time to hang out with my niece and nephew, the usual.

I did fly out to Portland on Christmas Day to hang out with B, though, which was nice. The disaster that was getting back home (woo, non-rev travel …), was not.

But I did get to hang out in B’s “office” before he left for NYC on the 26th (well before the flight I was in theory going to take left).

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Pilot wife life.

Quiet New Year’s in bed, and I am happy the holidays are over.

Holidays 2014

I’m trying to keep current with this thing for once in my life!

This time of year has been strange ever since I started working (what is essentially) retail. Christmas comes in mid-November and it doesn’t leave until early January. That combined with the fact that I’m the “help” and am not actually a real person in many customers’ eyes … really makes me kind of hate this time of year.

Still doesn’t keep Christmas from coming. If the Grinch can’t steal Christmas, neither can I.

Being an adult doesn’t help either. I’ve heard over the years that Christmas is for kids, and the older I get, the more I start to realize that’s actually pretty true. I realized that even clearer at the family Christmas Eve celebration as my niece (at 16 months) is starting to kind of grasp how this stuff goes.

For the family 24th celebration, we had to bring dessert. I brought my thumbprint cookies, because duh, but I also needed to bring either cake or pie. We’re a bit sick of pie in Casa Dino, so I decided to research Christmas cakes. Not much came up (yes, fruitcake is obvious, but I was NOT making a damn fruitcake) except for a buche de noel, a traditional French log cake. I found a super simple version (one that didn’t require me to make sugar mushrooms) and it actually turned out pretty well:

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Time with family is, well, time with family. We were supposed to go to my parents’, but my mom broke her arm on the 23rd, so everything got shifted to my brother’s place. He and Nicole stepped up and did a great job.

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Brandon in his AWESOME dinosaur sweater.

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The table.

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Swinging Amelia in my arms.

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Caprese salad. Actually really good.

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The feast.

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Amelia walking with Uncle Brandon.

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First present she goes to was actually hers (from us).

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With her Santa gift. I don’t think she quite understood it.

Christmas morning was rushed with us; Brandon had to go back to work so we had a half hour together, just enough time to make him breakfast. As a result, our present opening got delayed until the 27th. Such is life with two people who work unconventional jobs …