Justin Bieber was on the television, they tell me, along with the Gangnam Style guy and a newly-preggers Kim Kardashian; The Ball dropped in Times Square, fancy diners supped up caviar from mother-of-pearl spoons, and fireworks lit up the sky over Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong.
But here at The Muddy Kitchen, it was just some family and friends, good food, champagne in plastic cups and a bonfire in the snow.
We started collecting wood earlier in the day, before an afternoon at the movies. Tommy ran the chainsaw. A few of us helped and the rest of us (a.k.a. moi) snapped iPhone pics.
Dinner was simple. This time of year, when the garden lives only in my imagination, the vegetables come from the market and the meat from the freezer. This is the time when the hours of summer sauce making pay off — when the cooked down clumps of red San Marzano tomatoes are like bits of sunshine clinging to the otherwise pale strands of pasta.
The salad veggies from the Price Chopper felt like personal failure to any Season-Affective-Depressed gardener like myself, but the Olive del Mondo Vinaigrette brightened my mood as well as the (gasp!) box of market-lettuce.
It was a bonfire so we had to make S’mores of course, and roast hot dogs to put on squishy buns (it was a whole two hours since dinner after all!). We made a mad, late-day dash to the store, yanking foodstuffs off shelves, loosely remembering the eggs, butter and milk on the crumpled grocery list left in the car.
My dad took the brigade on a nighttime hunt in the woods for roasting sticks. Longer sticks turned out better – the more to burn down as the night wore on.
Tommy did the honors, lighting up the pile of wood we’d collected and what remained of the black locust from Wayne’s fallen tree. He employed Keith’s surefire-bonfire-lighting method, which included some dangerous-sounding combo of motor oil and gasoline. We all stood back (except for me snapping pics).
*The Muddy Kitchen legal department advises me to tell you not to try Keith’s surefire-bonfire-lighting technique at home.
*Eyebrows and lashes were singed in the process of making this fire.
Inspired by the fire and the darkness more than the holiday, we took turns telling ghost stories. Wayne drove up the driveway an hour or two into the evening. Kelli came by in her car instead of the machine, which was a first at our house. Wally & Dom couldn’t make it and Ellie, unfortunately, had already fallen asleep. There were enough hot dogs to go around.
We knew it was midnight when the clock on my phone ticked over. We filled the plastic cups with what was left of the cold champagne and said goodbye to the old year and offered a toasty warm greeting to the new one.
NEW YEAR’S EVE S’MORES
You can certainly get fancier with these (Nutella, bananas, ‘en foil papillote’ and whatnot) but you can’t get much better than this plain old way.
12 big graham crackers broken in half
12 mini Hershey’s chocolate bars
A bag of marshmallows
1. Roast marshmallows on sticks until (beginner) golden brown or (advanced) charred to Muddy black. 2. Slap into a Hershey’s chocolate-slash-graham cracker sandwich. 3. Eat.
Take your boots off before you come in here!