Merced, California: DT and I extend a very Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating the holiday and we extend a “Happy Winter Weekend When Everything is Closed except Chinese Restaurants” to everyone else.

Chinese restaurant in Merced, California

There is another reason to celebrate – Jimmy Buffett is 64 today! In 2001, Jimmy celebrated his birthday in Africa. Here is a fun little song he wrote about the experience:

Far Side of the World
Safe – hosted by RVGoddess.com

Our family loves to eat. Our family loves to cook. Our family loves to share. All three were accomplished today! Especially the eating part.

Mom had everyone for brunch this morning. The Lovely Lisa served as Grandma’s sous chef and together they dished up a savory breakfast casserole, pumpkin scones, persimmon bread and a fruit platter. Delicious. Apparently Santa stopped-by overnight. Our niece Kira reaped a huge haul from The Fat Man, but there was a little something for everyone under the tree.

Right after brunch, The Lovely Lisa had to drive back to Los Angeles. She posed with her youngest cousin, Kira (in her new pink bathrobe) before hitting the highway.

My two favorite people – together in one photograph.

Dave and I went back to the bus so I could “throw together” a spinach gratin for dinner. I really didn’t follow my usual little recipe, because I was cooking for a crowd. I sauteed five large minced shallots in butter – and just for fun, I added four cloves of crushed garlic. I stirred this mixture into five 10 oz. packages of (thawed, squeezed-dry) frozen spinach, 2 cups of half & half, 5 oz. shredded gruyere, grated nutmeg and black pepper. I did not add salt because I am pretty-sure all that gruyere will be salty enough. I placed the spinach mixture in a casserole dish and topped it with a little grated parmesan cheese.

Then we headed to Brother Bill & Ginger’s house for dinner.

Kira posed in her new outfit from Lisa. (Brother Billy’s house is practically an art museum.)

Kira can also cook.

Christmas dinner, Taylor-style.

Grilled filet mignon. Billy grilled the steak (Kira was only a prop) and served it with a Middle Eastern pesto chimichurri. Divine.

Ginger roasted butternut squash, garlic and fried sage in olive oil. This was all tossed together with orzo (rice-shaped) pasta and a little more olive oil.

The spinach gratin was a little over-crispy from the oven, but was still delicious and happily devoured.

The Lovely Lisa has returned to her home in Los Angeles. We will see her in a few days. Tomorrow we point the Magna Peregrinus south. Until my next update, I remain, your Christmas correspondent.

RV Park:  Castle Family RV Park near Atwater, California. 8 campsites. 30/50 amp, water and sewer. No bathhouse. No pool. No hot tub. No laundry. We love it here.

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