Holiday Foods

Nothing says “holiday” like food!  No matter what holiday you are celebrating, food is surely a big part of it and very much linked to both seasonal and family traditions.  This post is all about the good and bad of holiday foods…feel free to leave a comment adding your 2 cents to the topic!

On today’s AOL Welcome page, one of the features was “Holiday Foods We Love to Hate”.  They wrote about the results of a poll they took asking what typical traditional holiday foods people really didn’t look forward to.  Here were their top 11 and my opinion on each one (I mostly agreed with them).  After that part, I will list some of my family’s favorite holiday foods…

  • Dry Turkey
    • Agreed!  I am not a big fan of white meat on a turkey (or chicken, for that matter) because it tends to be dry or get dry shortly after the initial serving.  Unless you brine it or perfectly cook a Butterball in a bag, you’re gonna have a high potential for dry turkey.  So, for me, just pass the dark meat, please….
  • Over-Thought Stuffing
    • Agreed!  They talked about how stuffing with a ton of extra weird stuff like nuts and water chestnuts or  sausage and oysters and stuff take all the simple goodness out of stuffing!  I agree – all I want in my stuffing is bread cubes, chicken (or turkey) stock, celery, onions, and lots of perfectly blended spices.  I have occasionally added a few raisins or cranberries, but that is rare and my limit for extra junk!
  • Candy Canes That Aren’t Peppermint
    • Um – I could go either way, here!  I do like some of the other flavored kinds – like the blueberry or cherry ones.  But the peppermint ones scream out “Merry Christmas”, so I probably agree with the statement in this context.
  • Assorted Chocolates
    • This one took some thought – I mean, come on – it is chocolate!  Who cares what kind it is……  But, I settled on agreeing because of the word “assorted”!  Afterall, there aren’t many assortments where you will have everyone liking every piece in the box (case in point – who invented those ones with the disgusting jelly centers that don’t have any recognizable flavor to them?) — and to the point they made on the subject, it brings out the worst in people who do the sneaky finger pokes or cracking open and fusing back maneuvers to find out if they are going to like it or not before they put it in their mouth!  Just give me a nice box of all caramels and you’ll have a happy camper on your hands!
  • Fancied Up Cranberry Sauce
    • Agreed!  Although in some circumstances, I do enjoy some nice cranberry chutney with chopped walnuts….when it comes to that special holiday meal with the perfect (dark meat) turkey, I like just plain old cranberry jelly (whole cranberry sauce is fine, too, but I prefer the jelly).
  • Eggnog
    • Agreed – several times over!!!!!!!  OK, if you’ve read my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I have posted my home made eggnog recipe!  Yes, I have made eggnog for my family and guests and they really do enjoy this recipe and often request it….but I don’t drink it!  I have tried this particular recipe and, if I were inclined to drink eggnog, I would drink this version — but there is just something about the thought of drinking a glass full of raw eggs that is majorly revolting to me!
  • Fruitcake
    • Agreed – another major agreement!!!!!  That bitter candied fruit and the thought of something that may have been made in the beginning of the last century and is still being passed around as a “thoughtful” gift raises a lot of issues in my mind!!!  Whenever I have tried to eat fruitcake to be respectful of a hostess or gift giver, it was all I could to to keep from spitting it back out!  YUCK!!  Although – I do understand that there is a place near here that makes FRESH fruitcakes that are world famous and supposed to be absolutely fabulous — I don’t have the courage to try one for myself…..
  • Giblet Gravy
    • Agreed!  Keep the internal organs out of the gravy!  Either toss them out or, if you must, boil them up for your cat — the cat will love them, but they will stink up the house!  YUCK!
  • Gelatin Salads
    • Agreed!  I do like molded jello with cool whip mixed in it, occasionally, but it tends to be an extra dish taking up space on the counter (or table) that could be used for something really good – it really is a waste of space in a holiday meal.
  • Mince Meat Pie
    • Disagree!  Now I have to disagree — I would agree if what you mean is the old fashioned version of mince meat made with fruits, suet, and beef or venison – that sounds horrible!  But, the home made or canned mince meat that most people use today that is a spicy mixture of apples, raisins, rum, and wonderful spices is so delicious and one of my favorite pies!!!!  I really enjoy a good mince meat pie and only really think about it during the holidays. 
  • Scalloped Potatoes
    • Disagree!  Although I usually don’t make them during the actual holiday meal, I do love to make them to use up the last of the leftover ham!  I love scalloped potatoes and ham!!  So, they are a holiday tradition for me – you just won’t likely see them until a few days AFTER the holiday is over!

Now — for some of MY favorite holiday foods (aside from the normal turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberries, gravy, and mashed potatoes) – these are things that I grew up seeing on just about every holiday table at my Grandma’s or my Mom’s – and now usually at mine (except those that only they can make right…):

  • Butternut Squash
    • We like to cut it down the middle (lengthwise), clean out the pulp and seeds, and bake it in the shell – then, when it is all nice and soft and brown on top, we scoop it out of the shell and whip it with butter.
    • A touch I don’t think I’ve ever seen Grandma or Mom do, but I like to do, is to add a tiny bit of cinnamon or brown sugar to it — not much, just a little bit to give it a hint of those flavors
  • Homemade Apple Pie
    • Living in the north east in the fall is perfect for anything with apples — our area has apple orchards all over the place!!!  We’d get fresh picked granny smith or other tart apples and peel and slice them up for pies!  Lots of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter layered in the fresh apples all piled high in the crust to bake down to make nice thick slices……….YUM!
  • Grandma’s Apple Dumpling
    • Speaking of apples…..this is one of those I alluded to above when I said some things only “they” can make right – well, this is one that only GRANDMA could make right!  We can do the apple dumpling part, but it was the clear sauce that was poured over each piece as it was served that no one has ever been able to get to come out right! 
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes
    • no explanation or comment necessary – except, where’s the butter, I’m ready for one right now!
  • Lemon Meringue Pie
    • Anything with Lemons was my Grandpa’s favorite and I took after him on that note…a nice high piece of pie with a real strong taste of tart lemons and a thick layer of meringue that would instantly melt away in your mouth as soon as you took a bite was a perfect cap to a holiday meal….
  • Snack Trays
    • While family gathers and the ladies are finishing up the meal preparations, you gotta have something to keep those hungry kids and guys outa the kitchen!!!  So, we always had trays of munchies to eat while waiting for the meal — relish trays with assorted pickles, olives, pickled watermelon rind, etc.; veggie trays and dips; chips and dips; crackers with cheeses, pepperoni, summer sausages, etc….. it’s a wonder we still wanted dinner, but never failed to be starved and devour all the items served up for the main meal……
  • Creamed Peas
    • This is not something I was particularly fond of, but it was something Grandma always fixed — she was a farmer’s wife and they tended to put milk on everything!  ha-ha  She would make fresh peas and put them in a milk and butter sauce.  Everyone liked them, but me – I’m not a fan of milk……

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but you get the idea……dinner at Grandma’s was always something special — a table full of family, food, and tons of love!!!!  As we sat around the big dining room table, Grandma would look around at all of us and say “I wonder what the poor people are doing today?”  We were, indeed, rich – definitely not in the financial sense, but in the family and love sense, for sure!!!  Then in later years the dinners shifted to Mom’s house and Grandma, Grandpa, and some of the other relatives would all gather there for the same traditions, different house!!!

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