Post #353 Memories Are Made of These

December 24, 2017 at 4:28 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This time of year I tend to think back over sixty plus years of holidays I’ve spent with loved ones.  Each giggle, each peal of laughter, each tear shed for those not with us, each sharing of the story behind each memory is a gift wrapped treasure.  I remember as a kid the holidays were filled with anticipation, looking forward to The Day.  The tree would be decked out in glory with promise of what was to come.  It’s funny how much things have changed from looking forward to looking backward.

I don’t know if I’m just different or what, but so many of my memories seem centered around food.  It was always about feasting, no matter what the holiday or celebration.  A table heavy laden with something special, or something everyday made special by abundance and celebration.  As a kid, I was always hungry anyway.  Growing kids have an bottomless stomach.  Christmas was different.  It was all about sugar.  Everything was sweet.  There were candy canes on the tree.  There were bowls of candy around the house.  Home made fudge was plentiful, as were chocolate chip cookies, iced sugar cookies, cakes, pies, and other assorted delicacies.  It was everywhere in the house.  Except the bedrooms.

Mom always went back to her roots during the holidays.  She made the things she had growing up.  Things I didn’t like.  Fruitcake, boiled honey candy, mincemeat pies.  But she also made things we liked.  Anything chocolate disappeared fast.  And turkey.

One year, after I finished college and started working full time again, I didn’t have time to do the kind of cooking I usually did.  There were still plenty of things to eat, but my sister noted that you could tell I was working long hours.  There was no fudge, few cookies, and only one cake.  I went to work and inside of two hours, there was a coconut cream pie, a cake cooling on the table, two batches of chocolate chip cookies, and fudge cooking on the stove.

One year, I made a batch of sugar cookies, but they looked kind of plain.  I made a big batch of frosting to go on them and split it into four bowls.  I colored them into red, blue, green, and white.  Then I put sprinkles on top and put them out.  They were gone in an hour, and my sister said the red ones tasted best.  I tried explaining they were identical, but even forty years later she swears the red ones taste best.

Since Partner/Spouse and I have been together, we’ve been making our own traditions for the holiday.  We do a mish-mash of holidays at this time of year, starting with the Solstice, and celebrating birthdays, and welcoming the arrival of a new year.  We’ve celebrated with feast of meats, and feasts of plants, and feasts of appetizers of various types.  Over the last few years, though, we’ve gravitated toward a meal of prime rib, bone in or not.

So when one of the local stores put prime rib roasts on sale for half off for one day only, we hot footed it right to the store and picked the best one for our needs.  This sucker was six pounds!  And we got it for just under $30.  When we got it home, I looked at it and decided we’d never eat that whole thing before it went to the dogs’ dinners, so I chopped two hefty sized steaks from it (had those on Saturday night!  Deeeelishus!)  It was still too large so I cut it in half.  I froze one of those pieces and the steaks, and put the other in cold age storage in the fridge.  Today, I made a blend of spices and rubbed it all over the roast.  Right now, it’s in the oven on the slow roast method.  The house smells terrific with onion, garlic, pepper, and meat roasting away.

In about an hour, we’re going to have what I hope is the start of a new and fun tradition.  In Iceland, Christmas Eve is the time to share books.  You give someone a book they wouldn’t ordinarily buy for themselves but that you think they’d enjoy.  The rest of the evening is spent reading, listening to music, and discussing what you’re reading.  And eating chocolate.  I’ve got the best book for him that I could think of.

Later, I’m going to make a potato gallete (recipe to follow), and I’m going to sauté some asparagus.  For the asparagus, I’m going to clean them and lay them flat into a large skillet.  I’m going to barely cover them with water and put about two tablespoons of butter in the pan.  I’m going to simmer them until the water evaporates and the butter coats them evenly.  They should end up thoroughly cooked and with wonderful scorch marks to add flavor.

The potato gallete is easy to make, but you have to work it right.  First, it’s important to slice the potatoes as thinly as possible.  A mandolin slicer, or a food processor will do this well.  You can slice by hand if you have a couple of hours and a sharp knife and steady hand.  Do not rinse the potatoes.  You need the starch to make this recipe work.

  • 4 good-sized Idaho baking potatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°. Coat a 10-inch pie plate or shallow tart pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place the butter in a glass measure and microwave it for a few seconds until melted.
  3. Slice the potatoes into very thin slices and distribute them in the bottom of your pie plate in a spiral fashion, 2 layers deep. Season with salt and pepper and brush with melted butter, then repeat the process, 2 layers at a time with the remaining potatoes. Try to be speedy because the potatoes start to discolor rather quickly when sliced so thin and be sure to cover your top layer completely with the melted butter so it browns up nicely in the hot oven.
  4. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the degree of browning. When done, the potatoes will shrink away from the sides of the dish slightly and be fork-tender in the middle. Allow to cool slightly and cut into wedges for serving.

You can vary the recipe by adding herbs to the layer, or cheese, or veggies (hey! asparagus would work!) or even leftover bacon bits or ham slices.  You can also use different types of pans.  Think muffin tins to make individual gelletes, or pizza stones, or spring form pans.  Whatever you think will work.

So that’s our Christmas Eve, our holiday season, our new tradition.  I hope yours is pleasant, happy, joyful, and all those other great words.  Take care, stay warm, and as always



1 Comment

  1. Roasted asparagus is my favorite. Today for my family, I roasted carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, beets, and asparagus to go with the holiday ham. Deeeelicious! My step-mother said she did not like rutabaga or beets. She had seconds and we have a convert! Also, chocolate crème brulee for dessert. I like to spoil my family!

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