Saturday, December 28, 2013

One Word. Two Syllables. Know What I Mean?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: New Years is coming, and I know we'll talk about resolutions, at some point, but--not today. Today we are talking about New Years Eve traditions. And ours is: Okay, watch me.
 I'm holding up one finger. You say:  One word! Right!
 Holding two fingers against the inside of my lower arm. You say: TWO SYLLABLES!
 I'm looking pensive, thinking thinking.
 Grabbing my earlobe. You say: Sounds like!
 I "hold the steering wheel with two hands", then "steer like crazy." You say: DRIVE!
I stamp my feet and shake my head. I do the "drive" thing again, then gesture to show it's what's AROUND me.
You say: Car! Sounds like CAR.
 I touch my nose. Two fingers on my inner arm.
 You say, second syllable. Right?
   You say, sounds like "car" something?
 Yes! Okay, we got this. Then I look worried. Is this gonna work? I better remind you.
 Two fingers on my inner arm. You say—Geez! We GOT that! Sounds like Car something.
 I'm thinking. I could do "jade," but that's tough. Or "laid," but that's fraught with problems.
 Plus it has to be plural. Maids? Aids? Afraids? Yeeesh.
 Now you know what we all do on New Year’s Eve. Car-maids. Are we geeky and old?
 And pssst. How would you act out that second syllable? 
And while you're thinking, here's another of our New Year's Eve traditions...rack of lamb. One word, two syllables, sounds like--points to tummy. YUMMY!
 Hank's Secret and Amazing Special Occasion Rack of Lamb
 Rack of lamb, you're saying? That's extravagant! And difficult! Yes, it can be extravagant--but it doesn't have to be. And it doesn't have to be difficult, either. In fact, it's an amazingly affordable treat--that's gloriously impressive.
 And pssst: easy.
 First, you should know this is my go-to dish when I want to impress someone. Just saying. And on New Years Eve it's the absolutely perfect romantic dinner for two. Or four.
 Serve with tiny green beans and maybe wild rice. YUM. And easy!
If there are two of you, a rack of lamb serves four, so there are fabulous leftovers for New Year's Day--just add to a Greek salad for a lovely dinner.
Everyone thinks rack of lamb is one of those feasts that's out of reach. This proves "everyone" is wrong. Prepare to wow your friends..and have one of the most delicious dinners ever.
8-rib lamb rack
4 tb. olive oil
 2 tb. dijon mustard
 1 tb. parsley
2 tb. soy sauce
2 grinds black pepper
1 garlic clove or chopped garlic
Preheat oven to broil.
 Whisk all the ingredients (except lamb) together until the mixture forms a mayonnaise consistency.
Place lamb on broiler pan, lined with foil to make it easier to clean. Coat each side of the rack of lamb with the marinade. End with the lamb concave on the pan.
Broil five minutes per side. Turn oven to 400 degrees. Bake (with lamb track convex on the pan) for 10 minutes for rare. (This is chic, but I think this is too rare.) Bake 12 minutes for medium rare (that’s how I do it!) 13 for medium.
Remove from oven, let stand for five minutes.
Secret: after those all important five minutes, make the first cut in the rack in the middle. This will show you instantly if it's not done. If you need to bake it for another minute, no problem. It is far better to undercook, check ,and then put back in the oven than it is to over cook.
Slice into chops, arrange on the plates with rice and green beans, and wow. Let me know how you like it! It's one of our very favorites.
SO Reds, what are your New Year's eve traditions? And how do you feel about, um, Car-Maids? 


  1. I'm chuckling over the Car-Maids --- I am sooooo bad at charades.
    When my twin sister and I were growing up, we always spent New Year’s Eve with my grandmother. Some things are really vivid memories from those years . . . we always sat up until midnight to watch the ball fall in Times Square, toasting the new year with our sodas. We always ate tons of snack-y, so-not-good-for-you stuff, but the Cheez Waffies are the one thing I remember the most . . . I can get all teary-eyed and sentimental just looking at a package of those crackers in the grocery store.
    And because those things are so entrenched in my memory, we’ve made them part of our family tradition. We don’t really have a special meal [but I’m going to try the rack of lamb recipe . . . it sounds wonderful!] And when 2014 rings itself in, we’ll be watching the ball drop, toasting the new year with our champagne, and munching on Cheez Waffies . . . .

  2. I totally do not get the "carmaids" reference. Maybe it is too late at night.

    Kopp's frozen custard has a New Year's ever special flavor, ONLY for New Year's-- Chambord Alexander. To die for.

    And yes, midwesterners really do go out in sub zero weather to buy frozen custard (so much better than ice cream!)-- often with a parka over shorts. But only if the Packers game (and/or commentary about the Packers) is not being broadcast.

  3. Am I the only one who has a trouble picturing Hank in the kitchen, chopping red meat and mixing ingredients? I can see it, but she's wearing heels and faux leopard skin.

  4. Jack, I have seen Hank in the kitchen--she fits right in, and yes, in heels!

    I do love charades--in fact you've given me an excellent idea:). We are expecting our kids and their sig-o's. My son-in-law's birthday is December 31 so we'll celebrate that too!

    I'm wondering though, will I be able to talk them into charades instead of watching Sushi the drag queen drop down in the glittery shoe on Duval Street????

  5. Ellen, that is EXACTLY what I was worried about.

    One of my worst charades attempts was to act out Scott Turow's first book.

    I finally had my team yelling: Three-brooms In-o-penny? Three-brooms In-o-penny???

    They were baffled, and howling with laughter. If only they had said "cent" instead of penny, I bet they would have gotten it.

    And Jack , I have some pretty flashy aprons..xoxoo

  6. Aw, Joan...and that is very sweet. But what are Cheez Waffies?

  7. YESTERDAYS winners!

    And the winner of ELizabeth Heiter's HUNTED is PEN METTERT!

    ANd the winner of THE WONG GIRL is Peg Cochran!

    EMail me at h ryan at whdh dot com with your addresses..and how you want the books signed!


  8. Our family loves charades. My favorite was when a remote and stuffy man was visiting us and he got to act out "Free Willy." We were lying on the floor, helpless with laughter.

    We have a friend whose birthday is New Year's Eve so they always have a fancy party (black tie). It's fun to bring out the long dress once over the holidays.

    My other tradition is to sit down with a special journal I keep just for this occasion--to write in it what I am grateful for, what I have accomplished and then what I plan to accomplish next year (and each year compare the achievements to the plans).

  9. Hank:
    Cheez Waffies are two thin, crispy little waffle crackers with cheese sandwiched in between them. I don't know if I love them for the flavor [which is actually pretty good] or for the memories, but they're a special part of new year's eve at our house . . . .

  10. Okay, I can totally see Hank making lamb wearing fabulous heels and a flashy apron. Totally. I've done lamb for the last couple of Easter dinners and it is very easy (Hank, your recipe sounds like what I did last year).

    No particular New Year's traditions here, except staying in, eating pounds of shrimp and junk food, and watching cheesy movies (last year was Young Frankenstein). We're not much on going out to party.

    And, sorry, lost me on "car maids" LOL.

  11. Okay, okay! Than's what I would YOU act out "Charades"??

    I know--that's very meta.

  12. We'll probably meet our neighbors over at a Greek restaurant for a while and pray the music isn't so loud it drives us out before midnight like last year. I always cook a pot of blackeyed peas for good luck in the new year.
    I haven't played charades in years. My husband dragged me along to an office party of sorts. Everyone was off the next day but I still had to go into work so I wasn't wild about staying late. And the party was such a snore. I was being a sport and playing charades. I think I shocked the ladies by bellowing out the answer: Hair of the dog!
    Anything to end the game and get home.

  13. I love Love LOVE charades... and I'm pretty good at it. We used to play it after dinner when I was growing up. And we used to have people over for dinner an to play on New Year's Eve. Now I make Jerry and me something special... lobster something. And go... to... sleep. Happy not to be driving anywhere.

    -- So not a party girl

  14. We actually have a party ever year. (Come on by if you're in Lambertville.) Fiddles are played, songs are sung, and ham and gumbo are eaten.

  15. Car Maids is CHARADES. CHARADES. YOure supposed to say--sounds like Car Maids--Charades!

    Geez. How would YOU do it?

  16. Jonathan says he'd do "charm" like charm bracelet. Then "aids" like "helps."


  17. I think I'd do finger to lips [for shh] then sounds like "braid" [mime braiding hair] . . . .

  18. Rhys, still snickering over Free Willy! I hope it was half as hysterical as I'm imagining.

    Hank, I totally got Car Maids. Maybe I should play charades more often.

    We pretty much have a resolution not to go out on New Year's Eve. Sometimes we friends over who don't have to drive far, or close neighbors. I try to cook something special (Hank's lamb!!!) We watch movies and then the ball drop in Victory Plaza in Dallas, because that's midnight here.

    I drink champagne. Last year I drank not just champagne, but champagne cocktails, and I felt very bad the next day....


  19. My favorite ever New Year's Eve was a few years ago when for some reason everything seemed to go wrong in the month of January. And everybody I knew was grumpy. SO, I had a "do-over" New Year's Eve. Everyone I invited was thrilled. I bought hats and noisemakers (half price since it was after the "real" New Year's) and we had champagne and caviar--the works. One couple had to leave at 10PM for the airport, so I decided that we could have the countdown early. Everyone sang Old Lang Syne and toasted. Best New Year's Eve party ever!

  20. Terry, that sounds brilliant!

    Debs, whew. PLEASE be on my team.

    And Joan..SHHH. LOVE it.

  21. Kate, wouldn't it be funny if we ALL showed up? Thank you!

  22. Every New Year's we would get our car out of the underground across the street... not an easy thing, since the cars were on risers and ours always on top. One day I slid off the riser—near the ground thank goodness—and wedged the car between the riser and an I-beam. We would do this about the time people were gathering around Copley Square and heading toward the customs house for First Night festivities. It was fun to see families out wearing crazy winter hats and having a good time.

    Our New Year's routine involved a few days that had us walking down the hill to Durgin Park and past the old steaming brass kettle that my great-grandfather had installed at the—I think—old Oriental Tea Company in Scollay Square? but now hangs over the Starbucks near the big Government Center building. Hanging over Starbucks is much more impressive to the younger kids in the family. We are all just glad it has survived the years.

    Then we would walk down the hill for lunch or dinner and talk about how my great-grandfather really did eat there and probably stopped in for a mug or two before walking over to the pier to catch the ferry back to Salem or East Boston—no one can agree on where he lived then—before falling in and drowning. We would toast his memory and wish one another better luck than my great-grandfather, poor Mr. Harrington the mariner and steam engineer who could not swim but could drink... hence the family motto: Don't drink before taking the ferry home.

    This is a difficult New Year's Eve ritual to keep in Arizona. But it's very easy to keep from falling off the pier and drowning. We do our best by making Boston baked beans in a Durgin Park beanpot, steamed cabbage served with, prime rib and—of course—beer.

  23. Our New Year's Tradition is going to bed early and waking up refreshed. I'm one of those grumps who is of the opinion that New Year's Eve is an overblown, hyped up event, the very nature of which makes it almost impossible to live up to the expectations it rouses.

    That being said, I've had a few memorable New Year's. When I was 21, my best friend throw a "Come as a newsmaking person or event of 1983" costume party. It was fabulous. The millennial New Years was also a wonderful time - my sister and brother-in-law were getting married the next day, so we had a combined rehearsal dinner/New Year's Eve party. then went out to watch the fireworks over the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria. And there have been several years when we went to the New Year's Day polar dip in Portland, followed up by a traditional ham and black-eyed-peas dinner with friends. Also great fun.

    The rest of them, alas, fade into a jumble of noisemakers, too much alcohol, and sleepiness. Thus, early to bed.

    Of course, if I get an invitation to something really special, who knows...?

  24. Oh, Car Maids!! I think I'd so Shhh and then Raid. (do a bug imitation and then sprayed to death... I bet someone would get it.)

  25. Yes, Hallie... you need the shhhhh sound. Just doesn't get there with the ka ka sound.

  26. HALLIE! Brilliant. It's all about the're both right about that.

    HOw about Presumed Innocent?

    Julia, what 1983 thing did you dress as?

    And Reine, your wonderful stories are never ending..xoxo I promise not to drink before I get on the ferry.

  27. Hank, my family has never been afraid of risk. They always doing something different, always going, moving, experimenting, Dropping everything to try something new—wise or not. That makes for good stories. xoxo

    I could tell you the one about my cousin William who cut the strings off the ceiling lights at St. Gregory's School in Dorchester after Sister Agnes left him alone—another holiday perhaps.

  28. Cars on risers? Oh, Reine, I think I would NEVER have driven if that was required!
    I tend to stay home and safe on New Year's, except for a few years when my friend Maria had a nearby, non-alcoholic fun party . . . but you have reminded me of an English department Christmas party at which we played charades, maybe the only time I ever played that game. Some smarty-pants youngster put in "Vagina Monologues" and I drew that. It was memorable, and guessed very quickly, so my embarrassment was short -- but I never quite lived it down . . .

  29. My New Year's Eve tradition is games with friends. We haven't done charades lately, but maybe this year.

    The friend who's hosting created special drinks based on my critique partner's book when it released and since my debut comes out Tuesday, this year, she's creating drinks for NYE based on my book...super excited for that! :)

  30. Poor Mary... you probably blushed, and they guessed!

    Risers are okay. You don't sit in your car while the riser goes up and down. There is an attendant who moves the car below you, if there is one. Then all you have to do is back it off the riser when it's at floor level and drive off. What happened to me was the attendant lowered my car earlier in the day after the person beneath me left. But he didn't get it quite to ground-level and left it just a little higher than he should have. And the wheels were turned, so when I started to back up it jumped the edge. It's a good thing the I-beam was there, or it might have tipped on it's side. I'd noticed the riser was higher than usual but didn't consider that it might fall off the edge. The campus police came and rescued me and my then-new and now-old Volvo.

    I began to regret swapping my private parking space beside my office/apartment entry—but outdoors—for indoor parking across the street.

  31. Aww...Mary. That's AWFUL. Sigh.

    ANd ELizabeth, what's the drink for HUNTED?

  32. I don't know yet, Hank, but I'll definitely take pictures and share on New Years...she usually makes up these adorable menus and everything! (And she and her husband create some fabulous drinks!)

  33. Mary, I hope you don't think I was teasing. I think it was awful that anyone put that in there. You are really so very sweet I am angry that happened to you, and I know you would blush. xoxo