Gather recipes to preserve food-related holiday traditions
Posted: 12/03/2012 at 1:15 am
Food & Nutrition
The holidays would not be the same without our families and traditions. Some traditions may be preparing special foods, decorating, church and community services, music, lights, family gatherings, and shopping. Christmas and Hanukkah have more family traditions than most holidays, and many of these traditions are centered on special foods. Some traditions your family practices may have come from foreign countries, while others are created within your family.
Think about all the foods that are special to you and your family this time of the year. My list begins with good fruitcake, followed by cheese ball, eggnog, cranberry glog, cranberry salad, Christmas cookies, chocolate candies, rum balls, peppermint ice cream and more. My heritage is Belgian which includes Belgian honey cake. My favorite cookie is a special honey cookie that my mother made for over fifty years, and yes, the dough is really good. My father made smoked turkey breast. For the Cross family, traditions include date bar cookies, date pudding, and cranberry salad. And for my family, they include cheese ball and cheese spreads.
You may go home for the holidays or family members may come home, and the question most often asked is, “What do you want to eat?” For many of you, the food that goes along with the holidays is just as important as going home. It could be a certain aroma or the memories of a special recipe, whether preparing it or sharing it. All of these bring back links to a time past, sometimes accompanied by a flood of emotions.
Some of your family holiday recipes have been passed down through many generations. These recipes were prepared for years without being written down. Many family recipes are too easily lost, so learn them and preserve them now! When you have a family recipe, you are working with a piece of the past, remaking it, and connecting with times gone by. Most of us have a cooking link to the past, especially during the holidays.
Many families have family recipe books that are over one hundred years old. These recipe books sometimes carry a lot of family history along with recipes. There is something very special about baking or preparing a recipe you used to make with a family member, as you can often picture the experience of the past.
Something special you could do this year after a family meal is to make copies of shared recipes. A couple of old fashioned ways are to have family members copy them on special recipe cards or write them in pretty, bound books. You could even start own family cookbook. The modern way would be to work with the computer and share copies of the recipes. The best way to learn and share recipes is in the kitchen, elbow to elbow, actually preparing the food and washing the dishes. The kitchen is wonderful because of the great stories that get told during the food preparation. In fact, these oral history stories should be included along with the recipes.
I really encourage you to do something with family recipes. Here are some hints to help you get started now: Begin with recipes you love and remember and convert the recipe amounts to work with modern measurements like spoons and cups. You may want to make notes about the sensory comments the cook makes, such as the color, feel or aroma of the food For example, when you’re making toffee it is the color of peanut butter and the dough feels soft, not sticky or too firm. Another hint is to plan the time to do this! Please don’t trust your memory, make notes about brands, and most of all, do this recipe gathering now before it’s too late!
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is an Extension educator in consumer family science. Write to her at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.