Christmas in Carver: From Carving Turkey To Carving Out Family Time

14 12 2008

What does a family of New York (once or twice removed) Jews do when Chanukah falls right around Christmas?  We carve out some family time.  You can’t have a Chanukah party two weeks before Chanukah starts because waiting for the first night will be an eternity for the kids.  It is bad enough that they couldn’t wait so they filled their Chanukiah‘s with candles already even though the first candle won’t be lit for another week.  So, we were invited to the Cape to check out the John Carver Inn and Edaville, USA. and scheduled a weekend together just the four of us.  Family time is hard to come by these days.  Even though, I am a stay at home mom and my husband works in town, we are usually just ships passing in the day and night. We are lucky if we can break bread together as a family once or twice a week.

As a child growing up, I always knew how important it was to sit together and have a family meal.  My brother and I both had busy schedules, and I know we didn’t have dinner together every night, but we always had meals together on weekends and on as many nights as possible.  As a parent, I feel that what I know to be best for my family has to be attained in a modified way.  So we drove a couple of hours to get away, relax, play, and break bread as a family.

The problem with some vacations is that you spend almost as long planning, and packing and traveling as you do “vacationing”.  The great thing about a mini-vacation on the Cape is that it doesn’t take that long (in the Winter) to get to your destination.  I am not a fan of crowds so the Cape in the winter is idyllic.  The John Carver Inn & Spa had everything we needed.  A great pool for the kids to play in, a spa for me to relax in, and a several nearby activities, and attractions for us to enjoy as a family.

Edaville‘s Christmas Festival of Lights is a sight to see.  I don’t think I could drive there just for Edaville, but it’s definitely an experience to be had in New England at least once.  We got there a bit early so we drove around and were fascinated with the deep red fields that were cranberry bogs.  Edaville USA has that old New England, “back in the day”, kind of feel.  The entry ticket includes a train ride through the night in a heated narrow gauge train.  The landscape has more than seven million holiday lights both still and animated sprinkled over the landscape of the two mile round trip.  The entry fee includes all the classic, “old school”, carnival rides, but the games are three dollars each.  There is the scent of fried dough and popcorn in the air.  Nothing tempted us.  A few people were inside grabbing a bite to eat, but I think they really just wanted to get out of the bitter cold air.  Only in New England with the wind whipping at our faces do you see families out in the freezing night bundled up with pink cheeks nestled on scarves zooming by on the tilt-a-whirl or gliding up and down on the ferris wheel.  This is a night when you appreciate hot chocolate.  The children loved all the lights and the trains.

As a Jew growing up in a mostly Christian environment, I definitely felt like I was back in my home town twenty years ago.  There was one menorah in the lit up landscape.  It was nice, but I really didn’t feel it was necessary.  The children know about Christmas, they celebrate it at Grandma’s but they don’t live the whole Santa and elves fantasy.  It didn’t matter though.  They loved all the lights and decorations.  They’re magical to the children and their reactions bring back the magic to us as adults.  This is a side of Christmas that anyone could enjoy.    Even though we celebrate Chanukah I still remember as a child being certain that I heard Santa and his sleigh fly over our house on Christmas or around Christmas time anyway.

After a couple of hours, it was nice to hop into the wind-free car and head over the to the hotel and the Hearth ‘N Kettle for dinner and a quiet evening by the fire.  And what I mean by quiet evening by the fire is that the gas was light in the fire place and the kids had quieted from jumping on the beds to giggling and making a tent with the sheets by crawling under them and kicking their feet in the air.  Eventually the excitement from the trip to Edaville, having a night in a hotel, and hearing carolers at dinner dissipated and all was quiet until morning where a new adventure awaited.

The morning included a generous breakfast at the Hearth ‘n Kettle, a spa treatment (one of the best massages I have had – Thanks Chandra), playtime in the Mayflower themed pool and water play area for daddy and the children, and a short trip down to Hyannis for our next night of holiday enchantment at the Cape Codder.   As part of our package, we stayed at both the Cape Codder and the John Carver Inn and had our meals at the Hearth ‘n Kettle.

For more on the classic New England Christmas experience, look for upcoming articles on the Hearth ‘n Kettle Restaurant and a night at The Cape Codder.

Bonne vacances. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For more info: Edaville Christmas Festival of Lights, Hearth ‘n KettleCranberry BogsJohn Carver Inn & Spa,Festival of Lights PackageFamily Vacation PackageSpa Packages


Thanksgiving: The Peripheral Meals

20 11 2008

I think the biggest problem with Thanksgiving is when you forget about the peripheral meals.  There are the friends who drop by the day before because they are in town.  There is tea after the New Yorkers come in after their longer than expected drive.  There is lunch on Wednesday for the whoever came in last night and aunt Margaret who just got picked up at the airport.  There is Thanksgiving day breakfast.

Our newest Thanksgiving routine has been to gather in the morning for our Thanksgiving Family Triathlon.  The three legs are stretch, bike, and run.  The children have a short bike ride and run to the end of the block.  The adults (minus a few who take care of the kids and the kitchen) go for a long ride and run down Huron Ave.  We then have a light lunch and finish preparing the Thanksgiving meal which starts early and always ends later than expected.

Our peripheral meals usually involve lunch and a Wednesday night dinner:  this will be our weekly pizza and salad.  Thursday morning breakfast:  this usually involves a trip to Hi Rise and if we get to it homemade sticky buns from Vermont’s Baba a Louis’ Bakery Cookbook on loan from Grandma.  Thursday’s post Triathlon lunch:  soup and bread.

I try to have the usual suspects on hand for the children: things I know they will eat.  I expect that they will also partake in some of the other offerings.  I also try to have a lot of things that are easy to pull out and make a decent spread:  dips, hummus, olives, pita bread, some cheeses, veggies for slicing or crudites, fancy cheese crackers, chips and salsa, nuts, and perhaps one or two prepared foods.  This year I have been eyes some of what Sofra has to offer as well as Petsi Pies and Clear Flour Bakery.  Petsi Pies has a savory Roasted Vegetable Spinach Ricotta open faced pie.

Some great offerings for peripheral meals at Clear Flour would be their Spinach Onion and Gruyere Quiche or Boston Brown Bread (just add some cream cheese topped with smoked salmon, some goat cheese with a sliver of sun-dried tomato or roasted red pepper, or a slice of good cheddar and a slice of tart apple).  For tea or breakfast Clear Flour has Cranberry Orange Almond Tea CakePumpkin Buns, and Grandma B’s Pull Apart Sweet Rolls.

It is not online, but Sofra Bakery has some great offerings also for those peripheral meals.  For tea they offer Nan’s Pumpkin BreadCrunchy Crumbly, Cornmeal-Almond TortaPumpkin Jam Tart (I am addicted to their pumpkin turnover), Fig-Almond SerpentinePear-Almond Umm Ali.  For the lunches and dinners they have oven-ready savory pies:  Cheese Borek, Carrot Kibbeh, Spanakopitta, Farmers Market Tart..  Also perfect to pull out for lunch, dinner, snack are items from their Mezze Bar:  Smokey Eggplant Puree, Bean Plaki, Armenian Bean and Walnut Pate, Skordalia, Moroccan Carrot Salad, Syrian-Style Lentils, Beet Tzatziki, Moroccan Goat Cheese, Labne with Pecans, Green Olive & Walnut Salad, Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers. A little of these tasty treats goes a long way.  I think I will probably head over to Sofra for breakfast with my mom and whoever wants to join us and we will pick up a few of these tasty treats to pull out when needed for meals over the days before and after Thanksgiving.

I will be making my shopping list for the main meal in the next day or so and will start hitting the farmer’s markets and shops on Friday and early next week.  Then I have to lay out my game plan, buy what I need for peripheral meals and we’ll be good to go!

Bon appetit.  ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For more info: Clear Flour BreadPetsi Pies,
Sofra BakeryBaba a Louis Bakery

Vote and You Shall Receive

3 11 2008

Get up and vote today and you shall be rewarded.  You will not only have the honour of choosing the next president, but you will also use your super powers as a valid member of this democracy.  Just in case that wasn’t enough, some companies have decided to give you a little boost.  Vote and you shall receive a morning treat and an little dessert.

Starbucks is offering a tall cup of coffee for after you vote.

Ben and Jerry’s is offering a free scoop of ice cream from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. once you vote

For those of you who have friends further south, Krispy Kreme is offering a free doughnut for all voters (since everyone will be voting of course).

Happy Voting!

p.s. If you’re too young to vote you’re probably better off not drinking coffee anyway and you can still get the free ice cream.

Bon Vote.  ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For more info:
Free food for voting
Ben & Jerry’s

Halloween Challenge

24 10 2008

I’ll be gone with some of my family until Halloween so in the meantime I have a challenge for you all.

It’s frightening how quickly we get into a routine, and how difficult we think it is to change.  The reason I’ve been thinking about this is that the Dunkin Donuts with a drive-through is being remodeled and the usual clients have to go to the one without a drive-through just around the traffic circle.  I’m sure this is changing how many people start their day because of the simple fact that  they have no choice.  I think if we weren’t all so stubborn or unwilling to change, that we’d find we can easily take more control of our choices and create new thoughtful routines.  Now here comes the challenge.

Everyone has their own threshold for this, so choose to approach it as a challenge for one day, one day at a time, or the entire week.  The challenge is to shop local for your morning or afternoon coffee/tea.  If you usually go to Starbucks in the Fresh Pond area you have so many alternate choices.  Most of the following places have coffee and tea:  Iggy’s Bread, Formaggio Kitchen, Hi Rise, Sofra, Sarah’s Market and many more in your neighbourhood.  Ask your friends and neighbours to find out where you can go or do a little google search the night before.

I’d love to hear back from you about your week of local coffees.

Bon appetit. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For more info: SofraSarah’s Market, Formaggio Kitchen,Iggy’s Bread