good food, great ambience....
I wrote this blog in response to a Red Room call for blogs about our favourite Holiday Recipe.
I come from a family of seven children who always followed traditional Christmas customs. My mom got up at the crack of dawn to put in a huge turkey to roast, then got to work baking several pies – not for her pies that were baked the day before. She was strong and a wonderful cook and loved to gather up groups as huge as the turkey to feed. As we got older and left the nest, it was a given that all the extended families would come too. The food was fragrant and plentiful, the laughter and camaraderie even more so.
As the years went on many of us began alternating between Mom’s and our in-laws and then sometimes we even dared to stay home. My small family moved a distance away and it was not always possible to get ‘home’ for the Holidays. Though not a great cook, I was good at following recipes and dutifully carried on the traditions, though I never did perfectly master making pie crust and in later years even – gasp- served store-bought.
But there was one tradition I began on my own. I had found that Christmas Eve was almost too much to bear for my children. They couldn’t wait for Santa to come. Some folks gather around the television and watch Holiday movies, some play games. We did these things too, but the best remedy I ever found for Christmas Eve jitters was feeding them by fondue. We would cut and chop and get everything ready early in the day and then set up a pot or two full of bubbling oil. The pots progressed from butane flame to the magic of electricity. As our family expanded the extended family did too, and at one point we owned five electric fondue pots. What fun we had! Somewhere along the way we began stealing others’ food, shouting ‘Party Foul’ when someone dropped a morsel and wielding our forks like sabres. As if we needed more food!
The best addition to this tradition was when my youngest daughter suggested we start using broth rather than the dangerous oil we had been using. We had to adjust some things ~ no more breaded prawns or calamari for instance. But oh my, how much easier and safe it is. Tastier too.
Due to illness my eldest daughter is living back home for a while. Both our daughters had adopted a tradition around fondues, and when we began to think about Christmas, this daughter suggested we host a dinner this year. A couple of days later she came up with the idea of having a fondue on Christmas Day. I immediately agreed. There can be no other meal which is so easy to prepare and yet brings folks together in such an intimate and festive way.
Over the years my fondue became its own recipe. I am sharing it here:
4 giant shrimp or prawns
4 large scallops
6 Italian meat balls
Chunked beef, pork and chicken (about 1” cubes or a bit larger)
Cubed Havarti cheese
Mushrooms (and/or other veggies)
Lots of garlic bread ~ for our family anyway we have found that is the one thing we tend to underestimate. At least ½ baguette per person.
Sauces: Our faves: Cocktail, honey mustard, Sweet ‘n Sour, sweet chilli Thai
We sometimes serve salad but have found not many eat it, and sometimes squid which must not be breaded if using broth
This year we also found some cool-looking cocktail Snow Crab pieces to add to the mix. We will see how it goes, but I’m guessing we will be adding this to the ‘recipe’. We are also going to live a little and try some bocconcini balls and a new cheese we just discovered, Fruilano. Of course you will begin your own traditions.
For dessert we are serving our all-time favourite, easy-peasy Rum Cake:
Rum Cake 8 – 10 servings
1 cup Chopped or whole pecans or walnuts
1 pkg. Yellow cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)
1 pkg. Vanilla instant pudding & pie mix
1 cup cold water
½ cup cooking oil
½ cup amber rum (be generous)
½ cup butter
½ cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup amber rum (same)
1. Grease and flower a 10-inch tube or 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan
2. Mix all cake ingredients together. Pour batter over nuts. Bake in 325 F deg oven (160 C) for one hour. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, prepare glaze. Melt butter in saucepan, stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
4. Invert cooled cake on serving plate. Prick top thoroughly (I use long turkey skewer). Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides. Allow cake to absorb glaze (don’t skip this step). Repeat until glaze is used up.
We are so looking forward to enjoying our untraditional Christmas dinner with no fuss.
Best of the Season, Everyone!
Sharon was born an Intuitive. We all are, most of us just don't realize it. Sharon did the human thing and started out a serial entrepreneur. Serial because she was always searching. Until one day not long after 9-11 she was forced to close a business - the only 'failure' she'd ever had. She was devastated. She lost her way. Of course she did not know it at the time but the truth was she had really found her way... to her truth, to her calling. She had always had a thirst for knowledge and a knowing at an early age that religion as we knew it did not ring true for her. How could God be loving and forgiving if He issued all those 'punishments' He was purported to have committed. Sharon began to doubt God even existed at all, so she embarked upon a search for the truth. And the truth for her is certainly God does exist, only not as a Man but as Source, the Universe, Spirit, whatever one wants to call it. The other thing Sharon had always known was that she was a writer. After she closed her store, she began to study in earnest and put pen to paper. She wrote several 'practice' books. And then one day, as she was lying in bed in an alpha or theta state, she's never certain which, she was informed that she must write 'that' book. The one she'd always had inside her. She resisted, but you know the old saw, the more she resisted the more it persisted. It seemed a massive undertaking and she doubted she could do it. She wasn't ready, she had other projects on the go, she couldn't afford the time. But she was compelled to write the book, pure and simple. She found herself making notes on her mini recorder at all odd hours of the day and night. Books, interviews, people found their way to her. Mediums would suddenly pop up out of nowhere and give her a 'reading' as if it were the most natural thing in the world.