Well, Happy New Year to all of you kind folks.

I hope you passed as good a Christmas as we did, that being, quiet, fulfilling and filling, in terms of the chow, anyway. My girl and I made Christmas dinner together for the first time ever, since my mom for the first time ever wasnít quite up to the task. In addition to the main course, I commandeered a recipe from the mother of our lifestyles editor here at the B-T, who got it from her father.

It was for cornbread oyster dressing. I donít know why, but a couple months ago I started having two cravings, probably more nostalgia than anything else: Cornbread oyster dressing, and rice dressing made with liver.

Nobody makes a good rice dressing with liver anymore, that I know. All restaurants around here use beef or pork or in some cases, horror of horrors, chicken. A chicken rice dressing has got to be immoral, illegal, unconstitutional or something.

Anyway, I made the oyster cornbread dressing all by myself and let me tell you something, cher, it came out beaucoup bien, you hear? Goodness gracious, but I Ďbout near killed myself on Christmas dinner.

My mother makes the most unbelievably sweet yet tart lemon icebox pie with vanilla wafers in the entire world, nay, the entire universe. Unfortunately, we didnít feel up to that challenge yet, so we got a chocolate pie from the supermarket which was passable. Next year, weíll try the lemon ice box pie.

It was a holiday season of eats. Week before last, we had both chicken and sausage gumbo and seafood gumbo. This week was Rik Rak, the Asian fusion restaurant at Cypress Bayou Casino. I had not been there since it opened, so Susan and I took off one week night to give it a whirl.

Now my experience with Asian food is pretty much limited to what we have around here in Franklin. So I sit down in the restaurant and the first thing I notice is thereís chop sticks. Already Iím a fish out of water, but my girl saved me by asking for silverware. Whew! That was a relief.

Rik Rak was great, and the teriyaki beef was to die for. However, I educated myself without reservations, once and for all, unshakably, that fish must be cooked. Sushi does nothing for me at all except make me convulse with revulsion. It doesnít matter if itís tuna, sturgeon, tilapia, catfish, perch, goldfish, betas or minnows: Fish that have never met the bottom of a well-buttered skillet at the very least have no business on my palate and will be evicted immediately. I am quite uncultured and coarse, I realize that. I also despise caviar.

Rik Rak did have some Asian beers, three different brands, and of course, I didnít leave the joint until I had sampled each, determined that all were good, and that I couldnít tell much difference between the three except the labels. The chocolate desert Ė I forget what it was called Ė was quite nice.

After that we retired to the cigar bar at Mr. Lesterís, where I treated myself to a rare Punch Chateau L stogie, except the word "stogie" is more applied to a King Edward or a Black and Mild, not a Punch Chateau L. It took me an hour and a half to get to the point where I could stub it out without feeling like I had disgraced its country of origin or something, but hey, when youíre sitting with good company in plush leather chairs with the heads of dead animals on the walls staring down at you, along with paintings of dogs playing poker (where did that whole thing come from, anyway?) and a nice, toasty fire, whoís watching the time?

As if all that wasnít enough, we decided to go to Café Bayou the next night.

I have gained the equivalent weight of a small pet pot-bellied pig since the week before Christmas, consequently.

New Yearís week? I donít want to think about it.

Hereís wishing all of you kind folks the best for 2007. I am hopeful that Iíll have some fishing at my disposal next year, though chances are somewhat dim. I may be surprised.

Keep the faith.