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Holiday Traditions

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Holiday Traditions

Postby city2countrygal » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:57 pm

Who has some interesting family traditions to share? Something your family has been cooking or baking for generations? Some special decorating you do for the winter season? An event you always go to, like the Nutcracker or Mannheim Steamroller?

My uncles have picked up on a sausage-making tradition (Polish kielbasa) from our heritage; I would have to ask how far back the recipe goes. We have it for breakfast on Christmas and Easter. For many years, a local grocery store butcher would make it and it would be so fatty that I would get a stomach ache after eating it. Now that my uncles started making it (not an easy job), it is lean and soooo goooood! Christmas Eve is soup and sammies. And it’s a special treat when my family from Chicago brings us up a football loaf (it’s like more flavorful baloney http://sausagexpress.com/lunchmeat-loaves/football-loaf/). Recent years my mom has been making kolache cookies and golumpki.

It was also a tradition that my dad and I would shop, just the two of us on Christmas Eve, for all my mom’s gifts. It was one of the best father-daughter activities we had, and one that I dearly miss.
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby Ttusker » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:20 pm

Homemade baked macaroni and cheese was always our Christmas Eve meal when I was growing up, and it still is mine. IIRC, it was one thing all of us kids could agree on, and not too difficult for our mom to make. I should mention I am a twin, and according to ol' Ma, we were a handful when we were small. Hence the need for something simple to prepare. Anyway, I make Ma's mac & cheese pretty often now (calories be damned!) and get raves whenever I serve it to company. And I'm making it next Saturday night....
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby Violet_Skye » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:59 pm

I think it's sort of our tradition to have something new for Christmas dinner. One year it was smoked pheasants. Another year chicken lasagna with garlic bechamel, spinach, portabello mushrooms, ricotta, and lemon basil pesto from my garden. This year, Italian beef roast (except it's bison and not beef), and a tomato veggie lasagna (gluten free noodles), lemon garlic vinaigrette braised brussels sprouts, and anything else gluten-free I can think of to make. Other traditions are going to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, driving around to see the Christmas lights, going to the Capitol Christmas Pageant, and participating in some sort of 'giving back' activity. Might be Salvation army bell ringing, or taking names off angel trees and buying gifts for kids or adults in need, or whatever suits our time and resources.
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby city2countrygal » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:19 pm

Mmm, mom's homemade mac & cheese, that's a good one, Ttusker.

I sometimes wonder what holidays would be like as an only child, especially growing up. My brother and I had the best pre-holiday present reconnaissance missions. We would hunt down the gifts, peel back the tape and peek, then rewrap them. One year we got caught and the folks were really peeved!

Violet_Skye, I really like your traditions of trying something new and giving back. I would be interested in hearing how your GF recipes turned out!

Local news said the Boys & Girls Club needs volunteers: http://madisonsouth.channel3000.com/news/community-spirit/63288-boys-girls-club-dane-county-need-gifts-gift-wrappers
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby Ttusker » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:42 pm

Violet's got some yummy-sounding ideas there; bet that house smells good! And City2Countrygal, my twin and I also were busted more than once for sneaking around, finding and getting into the gifts early. Did your brother talk you into it? Our folks sort of laughed it off, but our mom got absolutely apoplectic one time when Twin and I got into a stash of home-made petit-fours she had hidden in one of the freezers. As I recall, they were to be appetizers for a party, or something like that, and she had to scramble and make something else, 'cuz we ate most of 'em. Sorry Ma! :)
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby city2countrygal » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:19 pm

Ttusker wrote:Did your brother talk you into it?

Well, I'm older, but actually I can't remember who came up with the idea. We would come up with some doozies to make mom mad. I've since apologized to her for many of them as an adult.
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby Lily » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:28 pm

Ttusker wrote:Homemade baked macaroni and cheese was always our Christmas Eve meal when I was growing up, and it still is mine. IIRC, it was one thing all of us kids could agree on, and not too difficult for our mom to make. I should mention I am a twin, and according to ol' Ma, we were a handful when we were small. Hence the need for something simple to prepare. Anyway, I make Ma's mac & cheese pretty often now (calories be damned!) and get raves whenever I serve it to company. And I'm making it next Saturday night....


I'd love to see that recipe!! Mac and Cheese is definitely a major comfort food. I have several recipes (2 from Alton Brown and 1 from Food Network Challenge, plus my Moms and many more). Noodles and cheese -- heaven!!
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby Lily » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:42 pm

In the past, the Holiday Tradition for my significant and myself was to spend the day together, open a gift or two, and make a nice dinner with leg of lamb, baby potato's, steam and/or fresh veggies, and later go walking around to appreciate the lights on houses in the neighborhood. This year we'll have to scale back. Turkey is still good. Not sure if we're exchanging gifts. We have several Christmas movies: two versions Scrooge, Elf, Red Green Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Peanuts, and Santa Claus conquers the Martians. We won't have time to watch them all. Hoping for more snow too.

When I was growing up, my Mom prepared a feast with ham AND turkey with all the fixings. We had our family (with 5 kids), the cousins (16 more kids), grandparents, more food which everyone else brought with, dogs, football, and a LOUD noise level. Kinda miss those days. Good memories.
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby Ttusker » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:52 pm

Here you go, Lily. It's a pretty simple recipe, but people sure seem to like it! Please excuse the style; I wrote this for my brother who doesn't cook a lot, and I tried to make it easy for him to follow....

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

3 3/4 cups elbow macaroni (I use Creamettes; had bad luck with Brand X once)
1 stick butter
8 tbsp. flour
4 cups milk (skim or 1% is fine, whole is a bit much)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper (white or black is fine)
2 tsp. dry (ground) mustard
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 3/4 lb. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
buttered bread crumbs, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni per package directions; drain, but do not rinse. Set aside. In large saucepan, melt butter. OFF HEAT, whisk in flour by teaspoonfuls, 'til you have a nice, smooth, pale yellow paste. STILL OFF HEAT, slowly whisk in milk (start with 1/2 cup, then another 1/2 cup, then a cup, then the rest.) Cook over medium high heat, STIRRING CONSTANTLY, 'til sauce starts to thicken, maybe six or seven minutes; could be a little shorter, or a little longer. When it starts to thicken, it'll change rather quickly in appearance, feel, even the sound of it as the flour cooks, and you should notice an almost velvety sheen to it. You'll know it when it happens! When thickened, take off heat. Whisk in seasonings; you may have to break up little lumps of the dry mustard. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Gradually stir in cheese. Put macaroni in very large oven-proof casserole (I use a 5-quart enameled cast iron one.) Break up any large globs of macaroni (I use my rubber-gloved hands, as the noodles may still be quite hot.) Then pour sauce over macaroni. Stir all together well. Cover with buttered bread crumbs. At this point, I leave it sit for 15 or 20 minutes; I discovered that somehow it just seems to make the finished product better. Then bake in 350-degree oven covered for 30 minutes, and uncovered for another 25. Let cool 10 or 15 minutes and enjoy!
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby Lily » Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:52 pm

Wow. Sounds good. I'll probably up the cayenne but otherwise sounds extremely good. Thanks!!
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby msnflyer » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Beef and (if we have it) venison fondue. 4 sauces, salad, French bread, rum cake for dessert. Heck, it's worked for 20+ years, why change now?
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby O.J. » Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:03 am

city2countrygal wrote:My uncles have picked up on a sausage-making tradition (Polish kielbasa) from our heritage; I would have to ask how far back the recipe goes. We have it for breakfast on Christmas and Easter.


Would you/they be willing to share the recipe? I'm of Polish descent, too; we have kielbasa every Easter and occasionally on Christmas. I've been tinkering with the idea of making some myself. I love me some golumpki, too. Yum.
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby city2countrygal » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:28 am

I'll have to check with my mom, O.J., but I think it will be OK. I'll get back to you tonight or tomorrow. One year my aunt gave the recipe and special serving bowls out to everyone. I will also get the original year it was made in my family. I know my uncles do use intestine for the casing. My Great Uncle Jimmy calls them "sticks" not "sausages." It's the best when hes asks "You got a couple a sticks of kielbasa?" in his Chicago accent!
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby O.J. » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:36 am

Awesome, thanks!
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Re: Holiday Traditions

Postby Ned Flanders » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:14 pm

We always did Oyster Stew, a Christmas Eve tradition, that was quite disturbing to me as a child.

I roll like this now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR07r0ZMFb8&ob=av2e
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