You might think he's doing something else. But in reality, he's learning how to sit/stay, and not doing a very good job of it (he eventually learned how to do so beautifully ... sort of ).

domenica 2 gennaio 2011

Nine Ladies Dancing

For those of you not living in Italy, your holidays basically wind down today.

For those of us living in Italy, we soldier on, as things don’t wind down ‘til the Befana, which is the 6th of January, Epiphany, as it’s known most everywhere else in Christendom.

Yesterday, we meant to introduce our Puppers, Yip, Yap, and Yup, to the great outdoors on the 1st day of the year – taking them outside in the sun -- after lunching as always on the eve/or 1st on obligatory cotechino e lenticchie (fatty fatty sausage with lentils) but, as it turns out, Yip, Yap, Yup, the Scallion, Lulu, Rosie, and Harry were fast asleep when the sun was out.

So we didn’t.

Still in holiday mode, I’m trying to figure out the “Twelve Days of Christmas” and wondering when it starts. If it starts on Christmas Day, then it ends on January 7th … don’t think so. So it must start on the 24th of December.

That made no sense, either. I was dumber and dumbing myself to pieces. So I went to They say: “The Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days beginning Christmas Day (25 December). This period is also known as Christmastide. The Twelfth Day of Christmas is 5 January,[1] with the celebrations of Christmas traditionally ending on Twelfth Night and is followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. In some traditions, the first day of Epiphany (January 6) and the twelfth day of Christmas overlap.”

So, then, Twelfth Night? Again, wiki: “In England in the Middle Ages, this period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, which climaxed on Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas season. In Tudor England, Twelfth Night itself was forever solidified in popular culture when William Shakespeare used it as the setting for one of his most famous stage plays, titled Twelfth Night. Often a Lord of Misrule was chosen to lead the Christmas revels.”

(Harry and Yup can vie for the role of Misrule, although right now, as I write, Yip would win hands down.)

People first started singing the twelve-day carol in 1780. This lengthy carol, which seems so secular really isn’t. Each verse refers to something Biblical (quoting (unbracketed):

1 Partridge in a Pear tree = True Love, refers to God
2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists [why not the four cardinal virtues, she shrieked, especially since we just had the three theologicals?]
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace. [Here I really want to bellow Five Golden Retrievers, for reasons that are only too obvious.][Apologies to the Old Testament.]
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the sacraments [and why not on the 7th day He/She rested? … just wondering …]
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the Ten Commandments [we all know those, don’t we?]
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles [no reference for Judas’s substitute, who came in off the bench]
12 Drummers Drumming = the points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

Christmas lunch gave us leftover roast beef/rosbif, leftover Jerusalem artichoke (topaminbur, and yes, we only had but one), and some broth: What to do with this refrigerator pot pourri besides make sandwiches? Why, risotto, of course!
(This risotto will look gray and muddy, as many inevitably do. But who cares? It tastes really good, and you’ll be too tired from the festivities to pay it much attention. You might feel good that you’re not feeding the rosbif to the dogs. Or not. To spruce up this risotto, and if you can be bothered, chop a handful of flat-leaf parsley, and adorn at the last minute before serving.)

Risotto al rosbif

140 g. Arborio rice
2 T. butter + 2 T.
1 T. extravirgin olive oil
1 c. red wine (can be the lousy stuff from the box, since you drank all the good stuff in bottles on Christmas Day)
4 c. chicken/beef broth leftover from the broth recipe I did not write about, warmed
¾ lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 c. (at least) leftover rosbif, julienned*
¾ c. leftover grated Parmesan (from the tortellini in brodo)
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Handful of parsley (see above note)

Melt 2 T. butter and one T. extravirgin olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium-low flame. Add the rice, and toss to coat. Add the cup of wine, stir, and let it absorb. Continue adding the broth incrementally.

In between ladlefuls, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, add the mushrooms, and cook ‘til nicely browned. Remove from heat and reserve.
When the rice is just about done (after about 15 minutes), add the roast beef, grated Parmesan, and Worcestershire sauce. Five minutes or so later, taste for seasoning – add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and the optional parsley.

*Astute reader Terracotta Sculptress pointed out that I'd omitted the amount of rosbif. Most excellent point, as this risotto is about that. Thank you, Terracotta Sculptress!

Serves two, generously.

On New Year’s Eve, the Scallion and I sat around the wood-burning stove, glasses of The Widow in hand, and talked about 2010 before watching Witness for the Prosecution for the 29th time. 2010 all came down to one word: Waldo. Which is why his picture is on the upper-left hand side of this note. He’d just come to live with us. We miss him as much today as we did on August 13, 2010.

Here’s hoping 2011 is better than 2010.


I know at least one of my readers knows this by heart, but I also know that many of us don’t, so:

The Seven Gifts: Isaiah 11:2-3: The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;

The Eight Beatitudes: Matthew 5:3-12
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blesses are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.

The Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Paul, Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Twelve Drummers Drumming The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting. (

4 commenti:

  1. Dear Patti--you always manage to enlighten. I really had no idea so much meaning was packed into that lovely carol! At my house, we are indeed trying to valiantly soldier on, partaking of the Nine Fruits of the Holy Panettone for breakfast these days, while the Little Lord and Lordette of Misrule play with their new Wii. Blessed are they who are on Christmas vacation,for they shall drive their parents to distraction....

    A most wondrous and Happy New Year to you and the Scallion--looking forward to more of your writing in 2011!

  2. Dear E - me, neither. Ah, the beauty of the internet!

    Thank you for reading, buon anno to you, and Ibid. re: reading you.

  3. Dear Patti, I have half a glass of Tavenello Rosso left over (and will soon be consumed if I'm subjected to another relative tonight) and of course, the Coop is closed. Can I substitute grappa or should I wait until Monday to prepare the risotto?

  4. Oh, Papaya: once again, you make me snort. THANK YOU! You should save the T.R. for the risotto, and inhale the grappa while your relatives mingle. Without telling them, of course. Or wait 'til tomorrow, and make it properly with junk wine. Or say you-know-what-it, drink the wine, and order out for pizza. Happy New Year!