Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2010 - Dec. 2 Holiday Foods

 Did your family serve traditional dishes for the holidays?
Was there one dish that was unusual?

I believe it speaks volumes that the Christmas food traditions I recall have nothing to do with the main course of a holiday meal. It was never a hard and fast tradition that we had 'thee' Christmas ham or turkey; I recall one Christmas enjoying a Crown Roast of Pork.

But Christmas would not have been the same without the many delectable baked goods my mother made. I think about the pounds of powdered sugar and gallons of food coloring we must have gone through over the years making the icing for sugar cut-out cookies. Coated in colored frosting they were covered with decorative colored sugar, heart shaped cinnamon, sprinkles and, my personal favorite, the silver balls.



Two of my favorite cookies were Spritz cookies and a date-filled cookie that I've never been able to duplicate.

During Christmas, my mother baked small loaves of date bread  made with nuts and candied fruit. For years I thought that this was the traditional fruit cake and could  not understand why everyone thought it was a joke to receive a fruit cake ... I loved my Mom's and why wouldn't everyone else want to receive such a tasty treat? Like the discovery that my grandpa Harley wasn't Santa Claus, it was disappointing when I received my first fruit cake.

Two holiday tradition my family carries on today:  Buche de Noel and egg nog.



My nieces and nephews who have spent many of their Christmas's at their Gram and Grandpa Bergeron's couldn't imagine Christmas without Buche de Noel.

I've come to discover that egg nog, like religon and politics, is most definitely a personal choice. Some recipes call for raw eggs (ewwww), the mere thought of consuming raw eggs triggers my gag reflex.  For years my mother made her special egg nog from a recipe that called for cooking the egg mixture, folding whipped egg whites into the cooled mixture. This holiday treat was served only on Christmas Eve and it wasn't until I was married and received the recipe that I discovered why: "... cook over low heat, stirring continuously until mixture coats a metal spoon (about 45 minutes.)"  45 minutes? Are you kidding  me?? No wonder we only had it once during the holiday season.

 Digital Image. Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. 2010

It wasn't until the cost of microwaves became something the common masses could afford that I began experimenting with Mom's egg nog recipe and came up with the perfect upgrade. When our son's lived at home, it was tradition to have egg nog on the day we trimmed the tree and again on Christmas Eve. The tradition wasn't complete until the nog was served in special Santa mugs.

Digital Image. Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. 2010

During one of the Christmas's before I was the Big Sister, my Mom had found matching Santa mugs, a large size mug she personalized with my Dad's name and a smaller version with Cindy added in gold lettering. The first Christmas Al and I spent in our new home, a box arrived from my Mom with my Santa mug filled with holiday greenery. Fast forward a few more years and her grandson's all have their own Santa mug with their name in gold on the handle.

Before you pass on the nog ... consider making a half recipe. You might be surprised.

1 quart milk (I prefer 2%)
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped (optional)

In microwave, heat milk on medium high for 10 minutes; stirring after 5 minutes.
Separate eggs; set aside 2 whites.
Beat 1/3 cup sugar into egg yolks. Add 1 cup of hot milk into egg yolk mixture.
Whisk egg yolk and milk mixture into remaining milk.
Simmer 5 minutes. Stir. Simmer additional 5 minutes.
Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold.
Beat 2 egg whites and vanilla until foamy. Gradually add the 3 Tbsp sugar until soft peaks form.
Fold into custard mixture and mix thoroughly.
Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream if desired.

4 comments:

DianaR said...

I love eggnog! This recipe sounds really good - although I reserve the right to add one more little thing...the "kick"

Dar said...

Cindy, It's been years since I've had eggnog but I think I'll give your recipe a try.
You asked about family tradition with food...always, we have Christmas Eve at the farm (my folks place) and always, everyone brings a dish to pass. As big as our family is, you would think that there would be doubles of something, but it never happens. Mom ALWAYS bakes a Birthday Cake for Jesus, cut in the shape of the Christmas Star, of which the single candle is lit before we give thanks for the spread of goodies and a full meal, all buffet style. There is also always Mom's German Potato Salad, sometimes ham, and Mincemeat Pie if someone got their deer. The best part of the celebration, is gathering at the farm with family.
Of course, there is always a can of popcorn for the GrandLove that finds the Christmas Pickle on the tree, a German tradition.
I love this entry.
BlessYourHearts

Greta Koehl said...

I'm an eggnog lover, though as I get older it gets harder to drink more than a little at a time. I've always wanted to try to make my own some day, and this looks like a very good recipe.

A rootdigger said...

Thanks for not keeping the easier method of Eggnog a secret. Ishould pass it to my son, I understand as a budding youth it was the first means to be drinking with his friends. They drank so much eggnog and got sick. I doubt it really even had alchhol in it.But they have a Christmas memory.

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