Family is really important to me and Liz, but as we get closer to Christmas we tend to feel a stronger pull on our heart-strings to get in touch with and stay in touch with family near and far. It’s easy for us to busy ourselves with work and everything else life throws at us, and take for granted our relationships with extended family. Sadly, sometimes we wait too long and we’re reminded of its value when it’s too late. We should call a little more often, make time for more get-togethers, and simply enjoy each other’s company whenever we can.
I have three first cousins in Canada. We don’t get together as much as we’d like to, but we always have such a great time when our families hang out. Our upbringing was very similar so there’s something nastalgic and familiar about our get-togethers. Maybe it’s because our parents used to do the same when we were little. I have fond memories of those days. I’m glad we’re giving our kids a similar experience. Hopefully they’ll carry this forward in their lives.
Back in the day…
I’m about to date myself… but I can remember the large ashtray on its ornate stand, the TV unit which was as much a piece of furniture in the living room as was our coffee table or sofa. Speaking of sofas, everyone I knew (at least our Portuguese family) had these big floral sofas. I also remember, quite fondly, the no-name pop (there was Appia, Cynar and Tony’s) that we’d have delivered to our door each week. I remember these things like it was yesterday. Yes… we had to walk all the way to the TV to change the channel. Liz says she can still remember the look and even the feel of her TV remote. That was pretty fancy – a TV remote! It had 6 buttons: On/Off, Mute, Volume Up, Volume Down, Channel Up, Channel Down. Seems inconvenient, but we only had about a dozen channels back then, so it was easy enough to “channel surf” with that remote. By the way, there was no such thing as channel surfing or binge watching back in the day. Although the decore and technology have changed (thank goodness), when we get together with extended family and friends nowadays the good vibe and appreciation for each other’s company remains strong.
When we get together with my cousins, the conversations usually flow back and forth between our past, our current lives and what the future holds. It’s also nice to see the kids building a bond with each other. Their ages and tastes are quite varied, but you can tell they’re connected and comfortable with one another. Our kids only have one first cousin, but they know my cousins’ kids as if they were their own first cousins too, and that’s really special.
Cousin’s Christmas Dinner
Our family with my first cousins and their spouses and kids always get together for a Christmas dinner, one or two weeks before Christmas, and this year’s no exception. We’re hosting this year, and I’m excited to see everyone together. The menu might still change a little, but I’m hoping to prepare a nice traditional Portuguese meal with some similarities to what our mom’s used to prepare when we were young. I’ll have cornbread, sweet bread, some sort of fish dish (we’re Portuguese, gotta have the fish) and I’m also planning this Azores style roast beef just like my mom makes it… Carne Assada do Pico.
This past weekend I decided to test out the recipe and it didn’t dissapoint. The house smelled soooo good! The sauce… the garlic and wine flavours… the slightly seared edges on the meat… it all added up to a wonderful meal! I think this’ll be a winner for our cousin’s Christmas dinner.
However you define family…
Family isn’t necessarily people that are connected by genetics. Family is the special people in your life. It’s said that you can’t choose your family…while that’s technically true with respect to your birth and lineage, I don’t believe it’s really true–you can choose who you consider family–and that’s pretty cool.
As we approach the festive holiday season (whatever you celebrate), make it a point to connect with those you hold dear to your heart–even if it’s been a long time since you’ve connected–there’s no better time than the present.
Happy holidays to you and as always, eat well, friends!
- 6.3 Lbs Eye Round Oven Roast (2.9 kg) This was two pieces of meat
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
- 1 cup beer
- 1 1/2 tbsp coarse salt
- 1 cooking onion diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, allspice, white pepper, paprika, tomato paste, white wine, beer and salt. Set aside.
Place the piece or pieces of meet in a large seal-able freezer bag.
Add the marinade over the meat, into the bag and seal.
Massage the marinade around the meat, through the bag to make sure it's all coated.
Unzip the bag, place the cinnamon and bay leaves in the bag and reseal it.
Place the bag in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 °F
Pour diced onion onto the bottom of a large roasting pan.
Remove the bag from the fridge and transfer the meat to the roasting pan (over the onions), and pour the marinade over the meat. Note: the marinade should roughly cover the bottom half of the meat.
Cover the pan (with a lid or aluminum foil) and place it in the hot oven on the middle rack.
Roast the meat for one hour and forty five minutes.
uncover the pot and roast for an additional thirty minutes.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Leave the oven on.
Using tongs, transfer the meat to a cutting board. Tent a sheet of aluminum over the meat and let rest for about twenty minutes.
Using a sharp knife, slice the beef into thin slices (between 1/4 and 1/2 inches (about 10 cm) thick)
Place the slices back in the roasting pan, slightly tiled, and spoon sauce over the slices.
Place the roasting pan back in the oven and roast for an additional thirty minutes, uncovered. Note: open the oven every ten minutes and use a spoon to quickly pour more of the sauce (from the pan) over the meat to keep it moist.
Your roast is ready! Serve with white rice or other favourite sides. Enjoy!