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A holiday season we all can share!
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:48 pm    Post subject: A holiday season we all can share! Reply with quote

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, or Hanukah you most likely have some great food/family/cultural traditions. Please share yours with all of us. By the way is it Pere Noel that fills shoes with small gifts?

This is my first Christmas away from my family, and although I am a little sad it is a nice opportunity for Phil and I to create our own. This year we will dine on Lechon Asado which is the traditional Christmas Eve meal in Cuba. For Christmas day I am still debating, but I do know that it will involve seafood of some kind. We always had chocolate mousse for dessert, I think I will keep that one going.

I just bought the Christmas Crackers, which are not common in the U.S., but have been in my family as my mom is from Canada. The first year my husband shared the holidays with us he thought we were crazy, now he is the first to pop his open.

My mothers nutmeg cookies are the perfect Christmas cookie. The cookie itself has hazelnuts, are frosted with a rum frosting and fresh nutmeg. She recently lost the recipe so I have some work to do.

While decorating today I listened to the Charlie Brown's Christmas Album, I love it. Phil's idea of Christmas music is Janis Joplin and The Greatful Dead, I don't get it.

I can't wait to read your responses.
_________________
"It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."

"It's hot ham water."


Last edited by Erin on Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 8:36 am    Post subject: Christmas tradition.. Reply with quote

Erin..how quickly can I type..how I wish this was a video blog!

Each year I make a big plum pudding..a few weeks before I mix, in a massive bowl, sultanas currants, raisins, mixed peel, almonds, glace fruit and much brandy. This mixture is turned every so often. The bowl is on the table in the next room.

In a few days time, a dear friend will come to my home with her mixture. We make the puddings together. There will be eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, spices, Meanwhile a big circle of calico has been boiled in hot water, rung out, and the centre lightly coated with flour (this will give the pudding a scrumptious looking skin). The calico is then place over a bowl, and filled with the mixture, very carefully tied with string (my husband, Siegfried's job!...born in Germany, arrived in Australia in 1950, he didn't know of the pudding...however he sure does now!)...It looks a little like a basketball covered with material...lowered into a big pot of boiling water to cook for many hours. Taken out of the pot, and suspended to dry...for days and days.

On Christmas Day, it's again boiled ...taken out of its calico wrap, hot brandy is poured over, and lit...producing dancing flames over the top! Everyone says "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"...sprigs of holly around the base of course. Custard...and an oh-so-naughty family tradition of mine..a little whipped cream and a sprinkling of sugar Laughing Siegfried really doesn't get that bit!

The aroma is take-your-breath-awayish..

Google "plum pudding recipe" to get an idea...you never know who might make one next year..It really is a Winter food I know ~ and it came to the shores of Australia via the English ~ and for that I thank them!

We also have a sort of tradition in Oz now (although there are some very very and more very against it! Evil or Very Mad ) of having a Christmas in July where the hot food makes more sense...

oh I dunno, just give me a bowl of pudding, custard, whipped cream and sugar any day any season any time..

Roll on December 25!

Erin, this has been fun..
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"I've never accepted the external appearance of things as the whole truth. The world is much more elaborate than the nerves of our eye can tell us." - James Gleeson
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I may try my hand at a pudding this year. A close friend moved to Nottinghamshire last December and that is where the confusion started. She called up on Christmas and said everything is a pudding, but it's not pudding, but it's not exactly a cake either! So many puddings.
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"It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."

"It's hot ham water."
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melinda



Joined: 01 Oct 2004
Posts: 256
Location: Richmond, VA, usa

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 4:28 pm    Post subject: xmas cheer Reply with quote

I usually make pralines as gifts (pronounced "praw" not "pray" pleeez) and sometimes a microwave peanut brittle (sooo easy)...for the big family gathering on xmas eve we may have a crab bisque, smoked salmon, beef tenderloin and in Virginia, the holiday meal's not complete without ham biscuits......for the uninitiated...these are biscuits, most times plain, with a small bit of salty Va ham inside....I fail to see the thrill....but I do love the ham to season my red beans......

for dessert...I did a yule log once, sometimes a trifle, mousse is popular...and we do the crackers too.....

then on xmas nite we go to my english friend's for a full english meal complete with pudding mentioned above....tasty
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erin!

I'm so glad you opened up this discussion! I had envisioned it more as a permanent installation 'cause I hope it will be filled with ongoing celebrations from everywhere all year long. But let's hope it keeps going and keeps expanding our horizons with holidays and ways to celebrate! Laughing

I am just getting ready for a family reunion next weekend. We'll have a little preview of Christmas since this is the first time my husband's family has all gotten together in a very long time but they won't be staying until Christmas.

We'll have a ham and as many do-ahead things as I can: a roasted lima bean salad, carrot & leek soup (the veggie base of which I did for Thanksgiving and put aside in the freezer for this event since it's different people), a couple kinds of cookies (dough for one in waiting in the fridge right now), scalloped potatoes and mac & cheese (that I'll assemble the night before and bake with the ham).

We're putting up the Christmas tree today. The kids and I will put on the lights and garlands today. We'll hang the cheap, shiny Christmas balls in the interior of the tree and leave the neat, one-of-a-kind ornaments for the larger family to hang throughout the day while they nibble on the buffet-style meal.
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 10:23 pm    Post subject: Erin's easy peanut brittle.. Reply with quote

ok Erin, the world of c 'n z needs to know how to make this! Recipe please..
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a recipe I just tried last night as a munchie for this reunion. I got it from the most recent Penzey's catalogue


Cinnamon Nuts

• 1/2 tsp. dry minced orange peel rehydrated in 2 tsp. water (let's face it, they're selling this stuff; any sensible person would grate the rind from a fresh orange but if you don't have access to fresh it's nice to have permission to use a substitute)
• 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I added a grating of nutmeg too)
• 1/3 cup water
• 2 cups walnut or pecan halves
• 3/4 cup sugar

Cover the dry minced orange peel in water. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to fully rehydrate. Combine the orange peel, sugar, cinnamon and water in a deep saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring regularly until it boils. Add the nuts (I toasted mine for 10 minutes first in a 350? oven) and reduce the heat to medium-low so the liquid is simmering. Stir constantly while the water evaporates. At first, the glaze will be shiny. As the water boils off, the sugar will form brown, crusty crystals on the nuts. When the nuts are completely coated and all the liquid has evaporated, remove from the heat. Make sure to stir constantly to prevent the nuts from burning (didn't seem to be a problem for me). Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet to cool and crisp (a silicone liner was very handy here). Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Yield: 2 cups spice nuts (I doubled the recipe with excellent results; I could easily have added another cup or two of nuts in addition for a sparcer, less sweet coating. As given you get a very generous sweet coating.)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

My notes: The tiny fragments I tasted were yummy. This would make a very pretty gift of several handfuls in shiny, cello bags with a raffia or colored ribbon and some seasonal botanical. And there's a nice bonus -- the crystalline mixture that falls away from the cooling nuts and collects on the sides of your pan can be collected for a really wonderful sprinkle to serve on warm oatmeal.

So, do you do food gifts? What have you had success with to recommend?
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey, I do food gifts in fact it is what I do. I recommend making homemade vanilla, cocoa mix, mulling spices, truffles and of course cookies.
The vanilla is so easy, it is just steeping cut beans in alcohol.
For the cocoa, mix it and put it in a jar then have bags on the side filled with good dark chocolate, cinnamon sticks and white chocolate so they can adjust it to their liking.
The mulling spices I put candied ginger, cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and nutmeg pieces. That in a tin given with farm fresh cider is one of my favorites.
I went to a cookie exchange on saturday and instead of only making one type I gave the illusion of more. I made two types of dough. Baked them into various shapes, and decorated them all different. I also made them tiny and ended up with over 80 cookies. Instead of using frosting I dipped them in melted chocolate them sprinkled various toppings on top. Others had white chocolate piped on then were dipped into sprinkles, making them look like ornaments.
Yes Rainey, I see what you mean about all of this stuff filling up it's own section! What do you like to give?

Madame, have I talked about peanut brittle? I have a recipe of course, and I will share it. I also have a toffee one that is pretty good.Weather is nasty here, wish I was in Oz.
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"It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."

"It's hot ham water."
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I haven't given food gifts before in a big way. In the past I've made cute little calendars with collage and rubber stampings for each month and assembled them into little collections that fit inside 5x7" acrylic frames. But I'm not sure I've really got a good idea for this year and it's something that takes me a couple weeks to work out and put together.

What I have done as a food gift ( ...and I confess to some insecurity here: I worry that what I really like doesn't necessarily translate to others who simply don't like the same things or don't exactly trust my food preservation techniques) is a pumpkin butter. It's really very easy and tastes fabulous to me (but, then, I'm a huge fan of pumpkin).

Microwave Pumpkin Butter

• one 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
• 3 tablespoons powdered pectin (don't substitute liquid)
• 1/2 tsp. ground allspice

Wash three 8- or six 4-oz. canning jars (the dishwasher on a "sanitary" cycle will do fine and keep the jars waiting hot for filling; put on a second "dry" cycle if necessary but this recipe is going to go much faster than your dishwasher cycle). Boil lids in a saucepan and hold them in simmering water. If using a water bath for longer shelf storage, put on a wide, deep stockpot with a trivet in the bottom to a low boil.

In a 2 quart microwave bowl (DON'T try to use a smaller bowl; I have an oven safe, glass 8-cup measuring cup that works well and I can see what's happening through the microwave door), combine pumpkin, pectin, cinnamon and allspice. Mix well. Microwave on High for 6 minutes or until very hot, mixing every 2 minutes. Add sugar, mix well (a wooden spoon or silicone spatula is up to his heat). Microwave on High for 5 to 10 minutes or until full rolling boil, stirring once during cooking. Continue to boil for 1 minute.

Spoon into hot canning jars, leaving 1/4" head space. Wipe rims clean. Drop on a lid. Screw on a ring (finger tight if doing a water bath). Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months. OR bring up the boil in your stockpot, process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath with a water level at least 1" over stacked food jars. Remove jars to a cooling rack or several layers of tea towels to cool to room temperature. Check seal by removing bands and lifting jars by just the lids. Sealed jars will store on a shelf for up to a year. Put any (never happens to me) that don't seal in the fridge or the freezer and enjoy.

The canning part may sound intimidating but it's, honestly, not at all difficult once you've done it. There's also a LOT of sugar in this recipe and that makes it really very safe. ...it's just awkward to give someone a gift with assurances that you're not going to poison them. Shocked

We *love* this stuff. I make it a couple times a year for the family. When I give it, I mix up the dry ingredients for scones or a simple muffin, put it in a ziplock bag, then drop it in a little fabric bag (one seam along the bottom of a folded piece of fabric, one along the long side) with a bow. [/b]
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erin wrote:
I do food gifts in fact it is what I do. I recommend making homemade vanilla, cocoa mix, mulling spices, truffles and of course cookies..


Oh Erin! I *love* hot mulled cider and I make my own mix too. I like cinnamon stick, hibiscus blossoms, oven-dried orange peel, nutmeg, allspice berries and a few cloves. I put it all in a tea towel and mash it a few times to break the stuff up. The smell from making it is as intoxicating as the mulled cider or tea! In fact, a small bowl of it to stir through with my hand as I move through a room is a wonderful, seasonal thing. Wink

Some years ago, I found some make-your-own teabags in Vancouver. I put some of this mixture in a bag and ironed the open side shut. That way I was able to carry a bit of this with me to pop into tea or microwaved cider when I was out and about. Unfortunately, I was never able to find them again. Still, this can go in a mesh teaball as well.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey,
I have used the do it yourself tea bags also. Although it won't help you out in L.A. I know a great tea room in Seattle that carries them.

Great idea with the pumpkin butter! My aunt owns a gourmet food business and that is in my opinion her best item! I have never ventured to make it myself when my aunts is so heavenly! I know how you feel about canning, it took me a very long time to get it down.
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"It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."

"It's hot ham water."
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you know you can make your own potpourri? I was out today and I had to venture into a store where they were selling Christmas trees. They cut off the bottom 1/4" or so of the trunk and all those fragrant shavings were collecting near the door. I asked if I could take them. Of course they thought I was a bit nutz, but they had no objection so I left with several big handfuls in a bag.

I'll smash up some whole spices to add to them (see the mulling spices above). Now that I'm aware of wanting to make potpourri, I'll keep my eyes open for some fragrant tips from evergreen boughs, likewise, broken off from trees and wreaths at these stores. I'll oven-dry some thin slices of apple, orange and those star-shaped fruit (can't remember the name just now. Karambola perhaps?). Maybe I can locate some star anise for the appearance (there won't be much fragrance if I leave them whole and I'm not that nuts about licorice anyway). If you can find some orris root, it helps fix the scent but it's not so attractive in appearance and it mostly settles out anyway so if it's hard to find, you're not missing much. I'll put it all out in glass bowls.

I like doing potpourri and having it all over the house and it's important at my house since we don't do live (or formerly live) trees for Christmas. It would make good gifts and most people will be really amazed to think you made it.
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brighidsdaughter



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 233
Location: Canton, TX USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great question! My personal celebration is Winter Solstice more than a religious Christmas, but We have agreed that a celebration of both is quite good! Traditional Winter Solstice food is anything that looks "sunny" usually a pan style pizza combining several cheeses, including cheddar, with chopped sun-dried tomato and roasted red pepper strips.

My family always had a Christmas eve dinner of traditional homestyle Mexican cooking -- posole or menudo, homemade tamales with a variety of fillings, and the "secret" margarita recipe, which I might share if offered the right bribes Wink

Christmas day, we had a *huge* southern-style brunch after opening gifts: Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage patties, cream-style sausage gravy, hash brown potatoes, grits, biscuits, homemade jams, and that traditional "ritual food" -- pure, unadulterated ribbon cane syrup. Plenty of coffee, cocoa, tea, and orange juice to drink as well. The evening meal was scattered, with everyone raiding the fridge when they got hungry, for whatever seemed appealing. There was always smoked turkey and ham at hand, as well as good bread, fruit, and salad greens.

I think I'd run away screaming if I had to do a big brunch like that now. With the family scattered, we still do traditional tamales & margaritas, but brunch has been scaled back to scones and Irish coffee while opening gifts.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2004 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

brighidsdaughter wrote:
My family always had a Christmas eve dinner of traditional homestyle Mexican cooking -- posole or menudo, homemade tamales with a variety of fillings, and the "secret" margarita recipe, which I might share if offered the right bribes Wink


Yum! I just love the spicy/tart flavor of posole with the homey, satisfying hominy. And the unique, surprising texture of raw lettuce and radishes in soup is a treat!

We'll have tamales on Christmas too. Not homemade. My daughter who's 27 now still remembers making tamales in preschool, but it's too much trouble when we have really *excellent* tamales with many, many fillings available at the local farmers' markets. Tamales aren't part of my traditional New England upbringing, but they're so SoCal and so yummy that we do them now. Wink What will yours be filled with?

We'll also snack from a buffet on Christmas. My husband won't be able to make the family reunion this weekend, so what's left of the ham (it's a whole one, there should be *plenty*) will be the center of it. I'll make a nice soup, maybe roasted pepper, and some interesting side dishes.

What will you do for dessert? I'm making a marzipan filled babka for breakfast and noshing through the morning but I don't know what to feature as Christmas dessert.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2004 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My neighbors have just invited us over on Christmas day for a traditional Phillipino style dinner with a Guam twist. I am very excited Alfredo will be making short ribs, lumpia, a Phillipino style carpaccio (I don't remember the name) among many other delights. I am going to contribute a curried coconut soup which is one of my favorites.

Brighidsdaughter,
I love the solstice! A good friend of my mothers used to buy me a gift for the solstice every year , they were fun things like wands, candles and smudge sticks, which at 13 confused me greatly. She would meet with friends and meditate to bring in the solstice.
Your menu sounds teriffic! I am still thinking about what to serve with my Lechon Asado.

Rainey,
My grandma and I used to make potpourri with her roses. We used the orris root, it is also a good refresher.
Marzipan filed babka! Can I come for breakfast? Or at least have the recipe?

Is there anyone who celebrates Hanukah?
_________________
"It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."

"It's hot ham water."


Last edited by Erin on Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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