The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without thoughts of great dishes being served to friends and family. Family food traditions draw us to the season – and the dining room table. Whether you carry on the traditions of your family or invent new ones, these ongoing traditions provide your family with something to look forward to, talk about, and of course add to your memories.
In addition to serving traditional recipes from your grandmother at a holiday feast, there are many ways to celebrate with your family. Here are a few ideas for starting food traditions that may remain with your family for generations:
Have a potluck dinner party.
This type of party is an easy and economical way to get friends together to celebrate the holidays. Invite each family to the potluck party and ask them to bring a dish. To get a good variety and enough food, specify the type of dish (i.e. pasta, veggie, appetizer, main dish, etc.) and how many people it needs to serve. Before the party, set up a buffet-style serving table and as guests arrive add their dish to the table.
For more fun and memories ask your guests to bring recipe cards for their dish. Collect all the recipe cards and send each family home with a “mini” cookbook of the evening.
Make homemade gifts.
Preserves, salsa, relishes, cookies, and candies make thoughtful gifts. Find one of your grandmother’s best recipes and bring it back in her honor. The kids can help cook, bake, decorate the package/cards, and deliver a homemade gift made with love.
Volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen.
The holidays should be a time of giving. Volunteering your time is a great way to help those who are less fortunate. Your children may not realize how many people go hungry in this country. Helping at a food pantry or soup kitchen is great way to enlighten them, and can be a great bonding experience for everyone.
Enjoy winter outdoor fun.
Playing in the snow (if you have it) or just playing outside for a while can build up an appetite. It creates the perfect atmosphere to start your own food tradition. Bring along a thermos of thick, creamy hot chocolate with plenty of whipped cream for outside adventures. Or simply have a nice pot of warm soup ready when you come inside from your winter activities. A new jigsaw puzzle, firewood, hot spiced apple cider and cheese fondue (recipes follow) are a great way to celebrate the first snowstorm of the year too.
Traditional Recipes from my mom’s kitchen
Hot Spiced Cider
½ gallon apple cider
1 quart cranberry apple juice
½ cup orange juice
Juice of a lemon
8-10 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
¼ – ½ cup sugar, to taste
It’s best to make apple cider a day ahead. Heat all of the ingredients in a large pan and stir them in until the sugar melts. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, reheat and ladle into cups. Cloves and cinnamon sticks are only for flavor, so avoid putting them into the cups.
8 oz of each Emmentaler and Gruyere cheese
1 ½ cups white wine
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. butter
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tbsp apple juice
½ tsp salt
Crusty French bread cut into cubes
Fondue pot and fondue forks
Shred cheeses and set aside. Mix corn starch and apple juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. In a 5-quart stock pot, simmer wine, garlic, butter, nutmeg and lemon juice until slightly reduced (about 5 minutes). Add cheeses 1/3 at a time while stirring with a wooden spoon (use a back and forth motion do not stir in round circles) until cheese is melted. Stir in the corn starch mixture. Pour into a fondue pot .
Make 4 cups (serves about 4-6 people)
What are some recipes you like to make and share around the holidays?