The lead up to Christmas looked promising. Christmas itself was going to be relatively quiet, but two days later Karsten and Diana were due to arrive, and also my brother, sister-in-law and two nieces from Chicago. We had plans to go to the snow tubing park, skiing at Sun Peaks, and best of all, have our second annual “cook off.” The year before we had divided everyone into pairs and each pair was given a category (meat, salad, veggie, etc.). The pair then chose a recipe and prepared it for the big dinner. By the time the meal was served the kitchen was a disaster, but we all had a great time and the food was amazing! A new Hammond tradition had been born.
Christmas Eve day was productive. I had all the make ahead cooking done and just needed to run to the grocery store to pick up our fresh turkey. I had ordered a whopping 24 pounder so asked Kellen to come with me so he could lug it out to the van. As we went through the check-out I cautioned him to be careful how he held it because they often leak out of the packaging. I know this would never happen with your kids, but several of mine tend to not listen well when given instructions (I can hear the moms of twenty-something guys laughing again). He proceeded to pick up the turkey and hug that thing like a newborn baby.
When we got to the van he looked like the baby had not been properly diapered. He was covered in raw turkey juice. His jeans were especially grim. Perhaps for most people this would not have constituted a crisis, but at this financially challenged point of Kellen’s life he only owned the one pair of pants. And in just two hours the parents of Anita, Kellen's girlfriend, were coming to our home so we could meet each other. Still, this was just a small blip on the radar screen of impending doom. Somehow he managed to clean his solitary pair of pants before the big meet-up and we moved through the afternoon smoothly.
After the Christmas Eve service we had a quiet evening and I made a point of getting to bed early since I needed to be up at 5:00 to start the sticky buns, a Hammond Christmas morning tradition. I had just entered a sound sleep when the phone started ringing. I glanced at the clock and it was exactly midnight. I stumbled out of bed to answer it and was greeted with a voice saying I had a text message, along with canned Christmas music playing in the background. Is there such a thing as phone spam? I went back to bed, but of course was wide awake at that point and remained so until about 3:30 in the morning.
I had just fallen back to sleep when I was woken up again, this time by the sound of the dishwasher starting to run. Someone had put it on the 6 hour delay setting, which gets my vote as the most loathsome appliance feature ever invented. Knowing there was no chance I would be able to fall back asleep, I decided I might as well get up and bake the Christmas morning sticky buns, a food tradition that we had enjoyed for many years. I used to start them from scratch early on Christmas morning, but for the past several years have made them ahead and popped them in the freezer. On Christmas Eve I put them in the fridge, where they thaw overnight and are ready to bake early the next morning.
I have done this so many times I have it down to a fine art. Or at least I thought I did. When the timer rang and I pulled the buns out of the oven they were not cooked all the way. I thought it was odd, but put them back in for an extra five minutes. The timer rang again, and this time I pulled them out confident they would be ready.
I could not believe it when I saw the bread dough was still not cooked, especially on the bottom. The tops looked a bit over done, so I was afraid to pop them back in again. I decided to invert the pan onto a cookie sheet and put them in that way, thus allowing the undercooked bottoms a chance to catch up to the overcooked tops. I set the timer for five more minutes and this time when I pulled them out they seemed to be cooked all the way through.
I have to admit I felt somewhat demoralized. Had I lost my touch? How could I have had so much trouble baking a simple batch of sticky buns, something I had successfully done dozens of times in the past? I told myself I was sleep deprived thanks to the midnight spam call and the dreaded dishwasher delay feature, and it really wasn’t a disaster, just a set back. My family was kind and assured me the buns were as good as always, in spite of the obvious globs of uncooked dough in the middle of each one.
|Rebekah, Kellen and Karsten|
|Karsten, Rebekah and Kellen|
|Rebekah, Kellen and Karsten|