Holiday Goodies

Fourth of July Traditions

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by Brenda Athanus

salmonpeas.jpg The “old timers” in Maine always eat salmon and peas for their fourth of July family feast. This tradition was started a long time ago when salmon still came “up river to spawn” and people still rushed in the Spring to plant their peas so they would have the first peas of the year, hopefully by the 4th, if the weather was good.  (I still have customers that plant their peas in the fall so they sprout when they are ready come Spring.)

The old tradition is to bake a center cut chunk of salmon at 350 degrees till it is less than moist, (so all the relatives like it) than nap it with a white sauce, better known as a béchamel sauce to which you add in chopped hard cooked eggs.  And peas, lot of peas cooked with butter, salt, pepper and a little water. The rule of thumb was to cook them till when you blew on a spoonful they wrinkled.

Petrossian

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by Amy Ephron

amy_ephron_color.jpg It was the day after Christmas, we’d had too much sugar and a fair share of post-modern stress so, it was probably a bad idea to try to go “sale” shopping. 

petrossian1.jpgWe couldn’t even get into the parking lot at Saks, it was 5 of 11 and the 70% discount ended at noon and neither of us had even had a cup of coffee.... (I sometimes think my daughters and I should wear signs around our necks that say “Please feed before attempting to interact with us.”) 

And then sort of Saks was off the table but we were already out and we poked our heads into a shop on Melrose Place which was too expensive and besides the point and Anna said she just wanted to go home.  Neither one of us had really had coffee.

“No, let’s take a walk,” I insisted.  “We’ll find someplace to eat.”

Party of the Year

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by Robert Keats

fireworks_sm.jpg

As each time zone in the world welcomed the new millennium, twelve people in a little flat in San Francisco celebrated with a unique dining experience.

The New Year’s Eve feast began at 4pm Pacific Time with long-life noodles and caviar tarts, as Sonja, her husband Dave and their guests joined a few billion people who were still partying in Asia and Russia.

Then, every hour on the hour, wherever it was midnight, they served assorted bite-sized cuisine indigenous to countries where the 21st century had just begun. 

Slice and Bake

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by Sue Doeden

brown-eyedsusans010a.jpg There are some cookies that are destined to become a holiday tradition. In my family's case, the traditional cookies were those that had become favorites -- my dad loved the thumbprints that his mom made each year and then they became my favorite. My brother loved the Chocolate Shot Cookies.

My mom would make dough full of powdered sugar and oatmeal and then roll it into logs. The logs would be rolled into sweet decorating sprinkles that she called shots. I don't see that word printed on the plastic containers of colorful decorating sprinkles I buy at the grocery store, but that's what she called them.

Yay, It's a Holiday

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by Amy Ephron

american-flag-picture.jpgamy_ephron_color.jpg I never understand how something becomes a day (or a month, for that matter -- November is National Pomegranate month.  April is Grilled Cheese Month.)  Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday suddenly became President’s Day?  And who picked the date of Memorial Day?     

But I think we should all declare June 12th to be Habeas Corpus Day. And I hope that we celebrate it forever.   

Habeas Corpus:  Writ requiring a person to be brought before judge or into court, esp. to investigate lawfulness of his restraint. 

Celebrating Shavuot

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by Hanina Stettin

shavuot.jpgIf you peek into the kitchens of most observant Jews you will see a double sink. Don’t ask me how over 2,000 years Jews took “don’t cook a calf in its mother’s milk” and created a set of rules that necessitates at least two sets of dishes, crockpots, and strainers, but there you have it.  Meat and dairy products are kept strictly apart under Jewish dietary law.  To ensure that never the twain shall meet, usually one side of the sink will be dedicated to dairy dishes and the other to utensils used for meat.  And that’s where you can learn a lot about how a family likes to eat. 

One of my closest friends uses both sides for dairy.  She likes meat, but she doesn’t like to cook it.  My grandparents only had one sink.  Let’s just say that once my grandmother proudly waved a single spoon in front of my newly married mother’s face shouting proudly “See!  I do have dairy dishes!” Being ever so balanced, my sink usually has a few dishes stacked in both sides.

My Own Betty Crocker

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by Seale Ballenger

bettycrocker.jpg As Mother's Day quickly approaches, I am reminded of the many reasons I love my mother.  She is smart, kind, funny and she makes one hell of a good Hershey Bar Cake - you see, I grew up with Betty Crocker.
 
While Wikipedia defines Betty Crocker as "an invented persona and mascot, a brand name and trademark of American food company General Mills," my own personal Betty Crocker is a flesh and blood person who happens to be related to me and goes by the name of Jodie.
 
While I was growing up the fictitious Betty Crocker was famous for such delicacies as "dunkaroos" (snacks containing frosting and cookies) and "mystery fruit cake;" but my own in-home version could whip up just about anything to rival her.  My mother's specialties, always made for the sweetest "sweet tooth," included lemon icebox pie with a Vanilla Wafer crust, bittersweet chocolate chip cookies, a pound cake that defined the law of gravity, a sour cream coffee cake that me makes salivate just thinking of it, and the chewiest brownies possible made with Droste's cocoa imported from Holland ("Corners, please!")

Sibling Rivalry

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by John Byers

pecan-pie_sm.jpg Every Christmas I used to cook a pecan pie from a recipe I found in one of Ann Landers holiday columns sometime in the sixties.  Since I was thinking of making it again this year, I was thrilled to learn that Dear Abby also had a pecan pie recipe.  Hoping to combine recipes to create my own distinctive version of the dessert, I got a copy of each. 

After studying them carefully, here are the only differences that I could find:  Ann tells us to use white corn syrup; Abby suggests using light corn syrup.  Although both women's recipes call for a cup of dark brown sugar, only Abby wants us to make sure the cup is firmly packed.  Ann tells us to use a pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla; Abby, clearly wanting to leave nothing to chance, recommends using 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Otherwise, the recipes are exactly the same.

Grandma Sarah’s Secret Latkes

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by Katherine Reback

chewing_gum.jpgThe first thing I ever stole was a piece of Bazooka Bubble Gum. I lifted the small, red, white and blue rectangle out of the glass canister on the counter, wrapped my fist around it and shoved it in my pocket. My heart pounded against my chest with fear and excitement as I glanced around the store making sure no one had seen me. It was a rush. Taking it. Not getting caught. Pulling something off. Putting something over.

The person I put it over on was Grandpa Sam and it was his store, adjacent to the white Victorian house he and Grandma Sarah lived in in Greenwich, in which the robbery took place. Grandpa Sam was not our real Grandfather. That was Grandpa J.J. my father’s father, who died tragically and too young, shortly before my parents were married. I don’t remember much about Grandpa Sam except that he was laconic, not particularly huggy, and was often the reason that followed many of the no’s in our lives as in "No, you may not have a Christmas tree. It would offend Grandpa Sam." 

Papa's Cranberry Pot Roast

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by Amy Sherman

"Latkes are a kind of oil, into which small quantities of shredded potato have been infused." -- Jonathan Safran Foer

herodlamp_sm.jpg Latkes, also known as potato pancakes, are a traditional treat to eat at least once during the eight days of Hanukkah. The reason you eat latkes for Hanukkah is because they are fried in oil. Why oil? Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the second temple after a battle and along with the victory came the miracle in which mere drops of oil in an oil lamp lasted eight days. The "miracle" is much like a story about a fat man coming down a chimney with presents...

 

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