Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Memories - Holiday Foods

The foods I remember at our Christmas table were very consistent through the years.  My mother prepared the Christmas dinner and relatives came.  We always used the Franciscan china, rose pattern, dishes. 
    Of course turkey was the main course, along with mashed potatoes, a vegetable like frozen green peas with little pearl onions (my favorite) but also corn, and green beans.  Flakey biscuits were served hot and butter provided to melt inside.  Olives would be in a dish, I only ate the black ones; the ones without the seeds were best as they could be pushed onto the fingers for fun.   Cranberry sauce gel from the can was sliced and set in a dish, gravy was made, bread crumb stuffing created, and some kind of sweet potato (I never ate any of that stuff).  Maybe Aunt Pearl brought the sweet potatoes.   We kids drank milk and the adults might have water. 
     The most important food for me was the pumpkin pie dessert.  I love pumpkin pie.  When I was two, at a family reunion in Des Moines, Iowa, they found me under the dessert table eating a whole pumpkin pie before dinner.   I can eat pumpkin pie plain, but I love it with vanilla ice cream.  Whipped cream topping is OK, and another way we liked it (my mom’s influence) with to top with a bit of honey and sprinkle with walnuts out of the nut grinder.  My grandmother, Grace Blanding Senker, had a farm in Los Molinos, California where she, and step-grandfather Roy Senker, raised both honey and walnuts, so we always had a good supply.  They also raised prunes, but I abstained from them.  However they dried prunes and stuffed them with a walnut half and rolled them in sugar.   (I think this is what they did with the dried prunes, substituting them instead of dates - I could be wrong)    It was a popular Christmas gift to other relatives, and a nice dish of them graced the table when the pumpkin pie came out.
   Speaking of pumpkin pies, when I had my own daughter, after Halloween, I thought I’d make a pumpkin pie out of our jack-o-lantern.  I used the trial and error method, and unfortunately it was one big error.  The pumpkin was cut up into pieces and placed in the oven, but it never seemed to cook until soft.  I tried to mash it up, but it insisted on staying crunchy.  I made my own pie crust, but after too many attempts at rolling out a nice dough, I gave up and smashed the dough into the pie pan until it was somewhat flat.  With that, I baked the pie, and it turned out ---- a crunchy mess.  So much for my pie making skills.   That’s the only pumpkin pie I couldn’t eat.

Best photo I have of the Christmas table
   I don’t seem to have any dinner table photographs digitalized (on my project list), but this photo shoes show the Franciscan ware covered dish for the mashed potatoes, and a basket from Mexico lined with a napkin holding the hot rolls.  A casserole dish for the stuffing and a glass of milk can be seen.  The people are my Aunt Pearl & Uncle Pat Hunt in the foreground, my grandfather, Leonard Pearce, and my mother, Nadine Hague in the back.  That wall paper in the dining room was very popular in the 1950s.

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