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Christmas Eve with the Family
Christmas Eve 2004 is over, and the Combee family has retired to our rooms to catch some sleep. As usual, we had our family gathering immediately after candlelight service at Varnell United Methodist. It was my sister, mom, dad, and Aunt Kaye all gathered here at Chez Parents. Dinner was a mishmash of different foods; my sister made portabella cordon bleu for me and chicken cordon bleu for everyone else. I made my chipolte black bean dip. Dad prepared Waldorf salad, and Mom put together steamed asparagus. There was a ham too, but I didn't pay much attention to that; Mom's dog Vanna seemed to take a lot of interest in the leftover hambone.

After dinner, we gathered in the living room for our gift exchange. We each have customary spots, we distribute the wrapped presents from under the tree to everyone, then process taking turns opening a gift. My aunt got a series of envelopes with a picture of a concrete mix bag, a picture of a wooden post, and, finally, a picture of a new mailbox with installation instructions. Everyone ended up getting a lot of nice items; I do feel like we overdo it a bit, but we all like finding neat things for each other, so where's the harm? My personal haul included the book "Live From New York" about the history of Saturday Night Live, a book of commentary on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an EyeToy for my PS2, and several vegetarian cookbooks, including one that's a flipbook of recipies with its own stand.

I've got one more day here in Dalton, then I head to Atlanta for a couple of days. I'm looking forward to the third day of Christmas party that my friend Strick is throwing down at the Georgia Tech campus; it's always a bit of a geek fest, but there's a lot of friends there. I'm also going to get to see vernard for sure, and I hope to see keymasterogozer, vic_acid, and zorathenne also.

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Spiffy-sounding cookbooks, and I wanna check out the Buffy commentary book! *grin* very cool that your sister made you a special dish; my mother's cooking for me consisted of making a bit of green beans sans bacon and some yams sans marshmallows and butter. Pretty bland - if I'd have known, I'd have brought my vegan margarine and vegan marshmallows, just for kicks. Black bean dip sounds yummy, too!

I did have one of my cousins make her green beans without meat since she knew I was coming. I was surprised, but also grateful, as green beans are one of the best foods ever.

The black bean dip is really easy to do. Take a small can of chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and dump into a food processor, then pulse until it has formed a course paste. Put two 11 oz cans of refried black beans into a pot and cook on high heat over the stove. Integrate the chipotle paste into the black beans, stirring until the mixture has an even consistency. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the whole mixture is hot, then scoop into a serving bowl. Serve warm for the best consistency.

Variations include adding cheese to the top, such as Mexican white cheese or feta (or a vegan substitute), or going half black beans, half vegetarian refried pinto beans.

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