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Special foods for Christmas

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  • Special foods for Christmas

    As I get older, I realize that traditions around Christmas are, and have been, very special to me. I grew up here in Central Kansas in a community that had a lot of first generation Americans, my mother and father included. My ancestors came from the Volga region in Russia, and were primarily German Lutherans.

    Along with them came very special foods for the celebration of Christmas time, and as we get closer to that time of year, I find myself yearning for some of that fare.

    I lost my mom in July of '19 at the ripe old age of 95. My grandmother,(her mother), came from Russia at age 6 in 1905. Many of the 'old world' traditions of Christmas were celebrated, especially the recipes for this time of year, and were passed down from Grandma to my mom and her sisters.

    In the fall of each year, my dad and uncles would travel 2 counties south of where we lived to bring home 2 truckloads of Black Diamond watermelons. The watermelons were scooped out, and the meat cooked in an outside cooker until it was syrup. The syrup was canned in quart jars, and then used to make 'Watermelon bread'...a concoction of a sweet pastry dough upon which the watermelon syrup was spread, and then sprinkled with a topping of butter, flour and calories whatsoever! This treat was made once a year for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

    Some of the watermelon rinds were peeled, and then canned...pickled like a bread and butter pickle would be put up, and also pickled using a cinnamon brine...once again, these were only brought out at Christmas to be put on the buffet table for Christmas Eve after church services.

    One of the other treats for us kids were the 'Pfeffernusse' cookies...German Spice Cookies that were made once a year at this time...I still can smell them baking and taste them as I write this!

    We had a traditional turkey for our Thanksgiving celebration, but for Christmas, we had a ham that was from one of the hogs we butchered only a couple of weeks before Christmas each December. The other special food was a traditional chicken noodle soup with what we called 'butterballs'...butter mixed with Allspice, egg, and dried bread similar to what was used in stuffing. The smaller than ping pong sized balls were put in the soup and made a special treat to 'ordinary' chicken soup.

    The last special food we had were called 'Kase' noodle...Russian cheese pockets. A dough was made like you were making traditional egg noodles, but instead of cutting the noodles, you would roll out the dough flat. A filling made from cottage cheese, chives and onions were put into the dough. It was folded up into a pocket, then boiled until the dough was done. They were then placed in a baking pan with heavy cream, and bread crumbs cooked in butter were spread over the top. They were then baked for about 20 minutes in the oven...simply heavenly!

    Just doing some remembering! Would love to hear some of your holiday food traditions!
    Last edited by tbox61; 12-17-2020, 12:57 PM.

  • #2
    We had traditional meals and most of my family were here from the pre revolution days and therefore a lot of English tradition. However my Dad's mom was from Norway, but he and the rest of us didn't care for the fish in the lye barrel.
    Living among knives and fire.


    • #3
      All the "traditional" family recipes died with every generation. Ours is a family of "starting over."
      I have one sugar cookie recipe which might be attributed to my Great Grandfather's years up north in the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1800's. Very rare things "like grandma used to make." One I have is for a whole baked Spring Salmon. Logical on the west coast. I've done that 3 times.

      If that was a tradition, I broke with it years ago. I typed up all my recipe cards, just the good stuff, as a cookbook for each of my kids. That's my tradition. Every 5 years now, I do a bit of an edit but the kids no longer care what's new that the old man has got up to.

      One thing that I do make is curried pecans and walnuts (the wrinkles hold more salt & curry powder.) Maybe 40 years of cheese fondue for New Year's Eve suppers.
      Brian T


      • #4
        tbox, that food sounds great, especially the watermelon syrup!

        Growing up, we had turkey with oyster dressing (I still have my Great Grandmother's recipe written out by my Grandmother0. but we haven't made it in probably sixty years. Traditionally we had baked ham for New Years, with cabbage (for money) and black-eyed peas (for luck). a tradition that most south Louisiana folks still observe, as do we.


        • #5
          We do pretty traditional dishes with a little German influence. Moravian Sugar Cake Christmas morning, Moravian Spice and Moravian Sugar cookies. My brother makes a coffee cake every year to give out as gifts that was handed down from my Great Grandmother. It has to be over 150 years old, the recipe that is. New Years we do Black Eyed Peas for good luck and Collards for Money in the new year.

          I've been making a certain cookie recipe for about 20 or so years. Hopefully that will be passed down.


          • #6
            What tasty memories you have! It's really a treasure to have family traditions you can trace back. My family had large Thanksgiving feasts, but for Christmas it was plates of cheeses and salami set out for "piece meal" all day. Dad always supplied a large box of sweet oranges which we ate like candy and became just as sticky.
            My husbands family where English, and so I was introduced to English Plum Pudding and English Carrot pudding which was completely different from the version my Danish Grandmother made. But again, that was Thanksgiving.


            • #7
              I am having Peking Duck, whiskey brazed ribs, grill roast veggies, and potatoes, bread hot from the oven with special creamed butter, a Christmas cake from Japanese topped with fresh strawberries, a sparkling juice from France.....AND swiss chocolates.... so much for tradition, it depends on what I am hungry for.
              . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di