Archive for December, 2011
Recipes in this Post
Almost every year, I bake a ham for Christmas so that I can have the bone for New Year’s Day. Of course, this year I roasted a goose, so I had no ham bone. Luckily, my good friend Stevie Lewis, saved me the bone from his family’s Christmas ham. From this bone, I make Hoppin John, and old Southern dish of black-eyed peas, ham, and rice. With it I serve steamed Kale and cornbread.
There is quite the long tradition with this meal. The black-eyed peas are said to represent coins, the kale is green like money, and the cornbread is golden to represent gold. Eating this for New Year’s Day is supposed to bring good fortune for the New Year.
Well, it might not bring any more money into your purse, but it is very economical. It’s a break for all the heavy holiday foods. It’s also very good for you. Black-eyed peas are high in protein, iron, zinc and potassium. Kale has anti-cancer properties. Corn bread, if you don’t put tons on butter on it, is also good for you.
I have been making this meal for years, but alas, the only photo is the one at the top. But, I’ll take pictures when I make it, so if you’re here after January, 2012, there are probably more pictures.
Every year, I make a special New Year’s Day dish, but I’m going to hold that one for another post, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I think that you might find yourself making some of 2011′s most popular recipes for your own festivities.
Dickens’ Christmas Dinner Menu
- Christmas Salad
- Roast Goose with Sour Cherry Sauce
- Chestnut Stuffing
- Wild Rice
- Haricots Verts
- Christmas Pudding
I lucked out this year and got a free range goose! I was so happy when I found it that I was jumping up and down. It was going to be a Dickens’ Christmas after all!
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness1, were the themes of universal admiration….
In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
`A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us.’
Which all the family re-echoed. `God bless us every one.’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 1843
Getting suet was difficult. Why? Because most people don’t buy suet, so it’s hard to come by. What is suet you ask? Suet is the hard fat around the kidney of a cow or sheep. Suet has a high burning point, so it’s perfect for making such things as Christmas pudding and mince meat.
I had mince meat pie that was made with suet, and it is truly superior to that which does not have it. So many people said “Ew!” to suet that manufacturers removed it from the ingredients, thereby producing a far inferior product. It’s been so vilified that younger butchers don’t even know what it is.
I finally found a butcher who had it, and asked my friend to pick it up for me, as he was closer to the butcher shop. He brought me this mass of fat, and I put it in the refrigerator. So, today, I started actually making the pudding.
I decided to use a recipe from Housekeeping in Old Virgina. Actually, I used a combination of the various recipes. They all had the same thing in common, equal amounts of bread, suet, eggs, brown sugar, and raisins. This was some true eyeballing.
When we got home, I wanted to make something was easy, but a little celebratory. Spane has always liked Pasta alla Carbonara – it’s easy and flavorful.
I’m very grateful to the U.S. troops who brought bacon and eggs to Italy in the Second World War. Some Italian cook got the idea to combine the two and put them over pasta. We’ll never know the true origin of the dish, except that it does not appear in any cookbooks until after World War II.
The funny thing is, even though this is a quick dish to make, Spane had fallen asleep by the time it was finished. He was really tired. I had a little, and we wound up eating the rest for breakfast. Hey, bacon and eggs, right?
Life has been hectic since then, and Spane really wanted to help me to decorate the Roll Out Cookies. Today was also the last day of school before the winter break, a perfect opportunity to give his teacher and the front office some nice treats.