Today I have been researching cell phones and mobile printers, ordering and checking on t-shirts, working on sales taxes, and I don't remember what else. If it were any busier I'd think it was Christmas Eve when Phil was a boy when I had to put all those things together. Maybe I really didn't. Maybe I have just convinced myself I did.
Speaking of Christmas, the first Christmas I was married, in 1968, my old (and grey) friend Bill came to spend some time with us. He was the only person I ever knew who put tinsel on a tree one strand at a time instead of closing your eyes and heaving it as hard as you could.
When Phil was maybe 11 or 12 we lived in a small town. Thinking I was coming up with a great idea, I remember how Phil's mom used to like frozen meals and snacks like stuffed peppers and the like. I loaded up the entire freezer with food of that kind. After all, it was a long way to the store. Christmas morning I just knew how surprised she was going to be. Let's just say it was the coldest Christmas on record. The food inside the freezer was warmer that I was. The only other time I saw that look in her eye was years before when I asked if she would like an iron for Christmas. After she told me that I would be wearing if, I asked her if she meant like up 'side the head, but she said no, it would be "tucked away". That's when I first saw that look.
I have learned a lot since then. This year, I am going to give Lesley something special. Something really romantic. Like maybe a whole book of coupons of special certificates that will allow her to give me foot rubs. Or maybe I should just fix this recipe I found at epicurious.com instead.
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing baking dish
1 (1-lb) package bulk breakfast sausage (not links)
1 (15-inch-long) loaf Italian bread (about 4 inches wide)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 dozen large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 large bunch scallions, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1/4 lb sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (1 cup)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter bottom and sides of a 13- by 9-inch baking dish.
Cook sausage in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps with a fork, until browned, about 10 minutes. Pour off fat from skillet, then cool sausage to room temperature.
Cut half of loaf into 1-inch-thick slices and reserve remaining half for another use. Pulse butter and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Spread a thin layer of garlic butter on both sides of each bread slice, arranging bread in 1 layer in bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle sausage on top.
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until frothy, then whisk in scallions and half of cheese. Pour egg mixture over sausage (bread will float to the top), pushing down on bread with a spatula to help it absorb liquid. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake, covered with a large sheet of buttered foil (buttered side down), 30 minutes, then carefully remove foil and bake until top is slightly puffed and eggs are cooked through in center, about 20 minutes more.
Let stand 10 minutes, then cut into 12 squares.
Dish can be assembled (but not baked) 12 hours ahead and chilled, covered with buttered foil. Bake as directed above.