Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food Traditions And The Memories That Come With Them

Today, someone mentioned the green bean casserole and asked when did this tradition start? I can remember the first time I ate it on a Thanksgiving – I was about ten years old and it was at my Aunt Agnes’ dinner table. Then I started wondering, do we carry on food traditions because of the memories that come with them?

Traditions abound in our home. When I met my mother-in-law in Wisconsin for the first time 42 years ago, I asked her if she’d made cheese torte right after I told her I was happy to finally meet her. My husband wouldn’t consider December 25th as Christmas Day if he didn’t get to eat his traditional Christmas dessert. On his birthday every year he is presented with a piece of upside down cake. Stuffing for the turkey always reminds me of my Dad. It was his job to break up the bread and slice the vegies. He is always in my heart as I make the 'traditional' stuffing every Thanksgiving. My Danish grandfather’s birthday was Christmas Eve. In his honor, we’ve always served Danish Aebleskievers and sausage before the kids could open packages. (These are Danish pancakes that are made in a special pan so that they resemble golf balls after they are cooked.)

I suppose if I had to choose my favorite tradition, it would be the fruitcakes. I know, people have a tendency to roll their eyes or outright refuse fruitcake, but I swear, the ones I make ARE different. I’ve been making 18 cakes every Christmas season and we either give them away or mail them to people who’ve been kind to us. I've mailed one friend a cake for 18 years because he said Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it. The memories I have from making these cakes are some of my best treasures. When they were young, my daughters used to sit on the kitchen counter, wrap their legs around the large Tupperware bowl and stir while I added the ingredients. The recipe makes six cakes and they bake for three hours in a very low oven – filling the entire house with the most ‘yummy’ smell. I don’t have the girls here physically to help now, but I still have those memories as I stir the batches.

Do you have traditions, too? Which are your favorites?


Sheila Tenold said...

Your blog had me salivating. So many yummy foods. My family’s major food tradition is potica at Christmas. This is Slovenia's national holiday bread. Potica translates to “something rolled” which is exactly what happens.

As children my siblings and I would watch our mother roll yeasty bread dough paper-thin on our round kitchen table. The scent of raw dough, cinnamon, melted butter, heated honey and ground walnuts is what I remember best. Of course, I carry on this tradition.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Now you have me hungry, Sheila. I do love those recipes that are handed down through the generations.

Have a great holiday!!

Unknown said...

I make traditional stuffing. I can remember never eating my mother's stuffing when I was a kid. She'd get so insulted--not that I was trying to hurt her feelings, but I didn't like the texture. Lo and behold, years later I realized it had nothing to do with the taste, I just didn't like it when it came out of the bird.

Now every year when I make mom's stuffing, I'm reminded of all those years I missed out on some awesome tasting food. But now, I'm making up for lost time enjoying it from the baking dish, not the bird.

Another tradition is fried cauliflower. It's steamed, then dipped in eggs and breadcrumbs and fried, and served warm.

I also make a jello mold my mother-in-law made every year to bring a little bit of warmth to Bob's holiday.

As we sit around the table stuffing our faces, I can almost picture those relatives sitting right there with us.

Thanks for the memories, Marlene.

Jill James said...

We always have apple pie along with the pumpkin pie which makes me very happy because pumpkin is not my favorite. All my menfolk love Funfetti cake (store package) for their birthdays.

Joan Leacott said...

Ebelskivers!!! Yum!!! I got the pan from my aunt and use the buttermilk pancake recipe from Joy of Cooking. Sometimes I press sauteed apples into the middle. I'm drooling all over my keyboard.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I agree with you on the stuffing, Carolyn. I didn't like the kind my Mom made, though, because it had oysters in it. YUK! Now I make it from scratch and put cheese cloth into the cavity ad fill that with the stuffing. It pulls out so easily.

We have favorite jello salads as well. Now I am hungry...

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I love anything apple, Jill. Glad you get your favorite. My daughter isn't fond of pumpkin pie either. I am learning how to make pecan pie but it is always a torture to have it come out the right consistency.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Joan,I use my Danish grandmother's recipe for Aebelskievers. My aunt used to cheat and use buttermilk pancake mix. It is such an effort to make them, I go for the original recipe. We always have apple jelly on the table to eat with them. They are a favorite for us, too.

Clarissa Southwick said...

Great blog, Paisley.

When we're at home, I always make a chocolate pudding pie with graham cracker crust. I make it because it's the easiest pie recipe I know.

I didn't make it this year because we were at my mother's.

But at the Thanksgiving dinner, when I asked, "What kind of pie do you want?" everyone answered, "Chocolate." Who knew it had become a family tradition?

Mona Risk said...

Paisley, I hope I have the chance to taste your fruitcake one day. I love it but don't know how to make it. We have wonderful cooking traditions too, passed from my grandmother, to my mother, and now to me. I wonder if my daughter will ever be able to continue and pass the torch.

Josie said...

Our Italian tradition is to eat fish on Christmas Eve, and lasagna on Christmas day.
I do most of the cooking, and my daughter takes over the Christmas baking. Butterball cookies, anyone?