The tree will be fresh cut, the decorations will be nature or music inspired, the wreath my Grandma made will be hung, the nutcrackers shall increase in number, and books and music will rule the gifts.
While I schedule like a pro, I am not big on planning too far ahead for meals. It’s more fun to think about what I want to eat that day and make it! But, as stores are closed or have limited hours, holidays are a different story. And so, I plan, chat with my favorite butcher at the meat market, and shop accordingly.
Fortunately, it’s really quite easy to create a list of meals for our family’s traditional Three Meals of Christmas. Tradition is the buzz word in that sentence. I am allowed a certain amount of experimentation, but the food tradition basics, just like the decorative elements, must remain the same. I’ve come to terms with this and gradually tweaked the menu to make me happy to repeat it.
Christmas Eve Eve
This meal is always Tex-Mex. Sometimes it is Enchilada Pie, sometimes Sanchos, sometimes Fajita Steak Nachos, etc. All over Houston, Hispanic families and family owned businesses have been laughing, gossiping, and making tamales 24/7 just for us. This year, I will buy four to be a side to Sanchos, frijoles, and pineapple.
Southern Italian, but Americanized, family traditions were given to me by my father-in-law who is from Calabria. To honor him, I make Italian American Carbonara, garlic or Three Cheese Bread, and to honor the Italian flag – a green salad with tomatoes and white shavings of Parmesan.
One of the nice things about living in Houston is our “winter” weather. It should be 60° F and sunny which means that the Spouse of Spoon Mage™ will be able to coat the roasted standing rib roast with his favorite rub and grill it. I will be in charge of the side dishes this year. Brioche rolls are standard here. I use the recipe that is in the 1968 Pillsbury Bake Off Breads Cook Book. The book is long out of print, but do try to find a used copy. Abebooks has quite a few. It is worth the effort and the few dollars to find one. Roasted Brussels sprouts are a natural with rib roast – do try slicing up some ripe avocado and let your guests use it as a topper to be served with the sprouts. Yes, avocado. Do it. A crispy lettuce salad provides a nice cool element in the meal. For the final and most glorious side dish, I am in a dilemma. Scalloped or au gratin potatoes and which style?
Should I make the traditional Mom style scalloped potatoes, sprinkled with paprika to be fancy for the holidays and done with sharp cheddar or a slightly fancier version with red skin on potatoes, Jarlsberg cheese, and some different seasonings like rosemary?
There are so many wonderful holidays and traditions during this time of year. Whichever one you celebrate, may it be filled with family and friends, peace and joy, and some good food.
Love to all,
Janice aka The Spoon Mage™.
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