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Looking Back at Christmas

Looking at Back at Christmas. Perhaps just 11 days after Christmas 2011 is not long enough to give any perspective to the holiday. Yet, this is my self-assigned task today. All of the important statements about the significance of Christmas have been stated and restated.  We’re in the newest new year, resolutions are made, or not,  and we move on to whatever the year, the day, the moment brings.

This Waco Miller Family celebrated Christmas twice.Christmas Eve, after church, we went to Karyn’s for a rather impromptu party. (Somehow we always manage to go there for a party.) Some gift-giving took place at that event. And on New Year’s Day all of the ones in town came to my house. For several years we’ve just given stocking-stuffers and donated to a charity of our choice.Those have included the John Tracy Clinic, Montgomery County Clinics, Asbury House Child Development Center, Family Abuse Centers and others.

However, over and above the gifting and any other occasion of getting together, I must admit that the real emphasis is always on FOOD. Oh, big surprise! Let’s face it. So much tradition hinges on the food that we eat and that connection to the special day. In the old days we ate what was in the garden, the yard and the smokehouse. Celery was not in our dressing until Aunt Nellye brought it from Houston. We didn’t raise turkeys; so, the hen went into the boiling pot, was de-boned and put into the dressing. Consequently, I am really not a turkey fan. The dressing–not stuffing since there was nothing to stuff–was made of cornbread and biscuits, onion, apples, eggs, butter, the chicken broth–I don’t remember any spices. Oh, and celery when Aunt Nellye brought it. And so forth, and so forth and so forth.

This year when the turkey ordered for Thanksgiving did not arrive until two weeks after, an HEB turkey that didn’t wander around in a yard or pasture somewhere was our entree. BUT for Christmas we had  turkey again.  This one had been free to roam. Was it better? I don’t know. I ate the spiraled sliced ham, black-eyed peas with pea sauce* and scalloped potatoes, cornbread and butter, bread-pudding with whiskey sauce. Two pinot noir wines from the wineries we visited this summer along with a champagne toast and the inevitable Kendal Jackson chardonnay were also present at our gathering. (This was not a tradition in my own family. My mother would heartily disapprove.)

 Pea Sauce. It is a fresh addition to the peas and could be used on any kind of field or beans. (Borrowed from a class participant.

PEA SAUCE

2 red onions
3 tomatoes
2-3 green bell peppers
1/4 cup sugar
White vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice vegetables. Add sugar. Cover with vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.

Simple and simply delicious. If you like “heat” with the peas, dice a hot pepper. This makes it like a pico de gallo.

My Favorite Cornbread
“Joy of Cooking”

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon sugar
 A scant teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 egg

Thoroughly mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat together the milk, egg and oil. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until all dry ingredients are moist.
Bake in a heated, greased cast iron skillet at 425 F until lightly brown on top.
Turn over in the skillet, slice a wedge and butter. Eat. Wonderful!!!
I sometimes use the cornbread stick pans. Be sure that they are well-seasoned and have plenty of time to heat in the oven with a liberal teaspoon of oil in each stick. So good because there is a lot of crust.

Again, happy eating.

Hope I am through with turkey for the year. Happy cooking to you. Let me know what will be cooking at your house this New Year.

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