holiday traditions

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Holidays are a time for tradition in my house.  There are certain parts of both Thanksgiving and Christmas day that are always the same, and I think my family finds comfort in that. Sometimes, by necessity, we find something new that gets a family vote and sometimes there is change over the years. This is usually done by necessity or by surprise when we discover something so fabulous that the family votes this to be worthy of subsequent holiday traditions.

My mother set the bar for absolutely the best turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes. She had her secrets and those were passed down to my sister and me and now I’m turning over to my kids and the “Blue Baker”. And so tradition is passed from one generation to the next. That’s as it should be.

We love home made “Doo Dads”, otherwise known as party mix. Several weeks before the holiday and when the kids were young, they would pull out a large, plastic garbage bag and then pour in the boxes of wheat, corn and rice chex, cheerios, pretzels and nuts. One would hold and another pour. This would then be mixed up in smaller ziplock bags and held in the freezer. Now just a day or two before everyone flies home for the holidays, I pull the bags of party mix out of the freezer and finish cooking. Of course, I have to check my list. Every single person has a personal request.  Child #1 – no peanuts and pretzels, but love the salt.  Child #2 – more Worcestershire and salt during cooking. Child #3 – light chex only , no peanuts, ok maybe just a few brown chex, and love the pretzels. Husband – no salt and yes to pretzels.  “Blue Baker” –  loves the corn and rice chex! I line up bowls with names for each one’s preferences, but mostly, everyone takes out what they don’t love.  How does one keep it all straight?

Over the years, new traditions included adding a breakfast casserole that could be made the day before and pulled out for brunch on the holiday. Over the years, one of my daughters has slowly converted this favorite recipe to a more healthy version. The casserole is  served with a fruit platter prepared the day. It is served with the french bakery styled croissants ordered from Williams and Sonoma that I pull out of the freezer the night before. By morning, the croissants are enormous after rising all night and by l0:00 am they go in the oven. The entire house smells like a french bakery. Ummmmmm.

Some traditions are fun, but just don’t make the cut. When my “Blue Baker” was two years old and we were making the stuffing, she was sitting on the counter to see what was going on. I turned my back for just a moment, and when my focus returned to the bowl, I noticed brown things sticking up throughout the stuffing. Upon closer reflection, these were Oreo cookies that had been added in a most decorative way. Very gently, I removed her from the counter and carefully removed the Oreos. She got points for making an otherwise dull looking dish very pretty. The Oreo tradition, however, was a one year tradition.

Now, as recipes are passed down, it’s time to teach the next generation. My son carves the turkey, one daughter recreates her grandmother’s mashed potatoes and another has created a new desert tradition.

Our favorite family bakery closed many years ago. This is where we got our parker house rolls, the chocolate chiffon cake with mint icing and drizzled chocolate for my husband, marionberry or raspberry pies for my kids and of course the traditional pumpkin pie. There was always the occasional running around the kitchen with a spoon of whipped cream right before the serving of desert when the kids were little. That was my sister’s contribution. Now, my oldest daughter has taken over making home made raspberry pie and another daughter makes mint chocolate lava cakes. This is all stuff of memories past and those in the making. No wonder I look forward to this time of year.


 Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season.



– The Gourmet Review


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