Mixing and Stirring: Blending Food, Family, and Friend

Here in the United States, Hanukkah, which begins tonight, and Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow, overlap. Even though I will be cooking two big dinners back-to-back, I am so excited! I love to get together with family and friends—and I love to eat. I am looking forward to the mixing and blending of foods, traditions, and people over the next few days.

My family has strong holiday food traditions—there are particular foods we MUST have at each holiday. Some of these developed or evolved in my childhood, or even before—others I have established with my husband and children. The cranberry squirrel is absolutely essential on Thanksgiving. I told my mother yesterday—and I was only half-joking—that to not have it on Thanksgiving would be a tragedy of epic proportions. She and my niece will be making it today.

I discussed the cranberry squirrel in previous post.

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Because our family cooks mainly by the shit arein method (Yiddish for throwing in a bit of this and that), we don’t have real recipes for most of the dishes we prepare, but somehow everything is always delicious. Just as a little of this and a little of that goes into a mixing bowl to produce something scrumptious–something different and better than its individual ingredients–so, too, does our family evolve from individuals who become a part of it. Each person that joins our group brings something to the table that builds upon our traditions, or they help to create new ones.

One of our Thanksgiving side dishes is creamed onions, a dish that I recently learned was something my father’s mother made. When my parents married, my mom learned to make them because my father expected to have them on the table. As one of my daughters and I do not eat meat, our meal now always includes vegetarian gravy, along with turkey gravy. Because another daughter does not like cranberry sauce, I always make applesauce, too. At the same time, there will also be plenty of turkey for those who mostly do eat meat.

We will use china that belonged to my mother, and dishes purchased more recently. My daughters and their partners will be here, along with my sisters, brother, my mother, my husband’s mother, and my niece, her husband, and their children. On Friday night, we’ll have a Hanukkah dinner that will include some family members and some friends. Most of them do not celebrate Hanukkah, but they enjoy taking part in our celebration—and eating latkes, of course.

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This will be my mother-in-law’s first Hanukkah celebration with us. When I was thinking about Hanukkah and the tradition of eating fried food during it, I decided to make Welsh Cookies—because along with the pies and other Thanksgiving goodies, and the donuts that we’ll have for Hanukkah, we should have cookies in the house, right? These cookies are popular in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area, where my in-laws were born. The cookies are similar to tea cakes, but they are cooked on a griddle, like a pancake. I had never heard of these cookies until I met my future husband when we were in 9th grade (I’ll pause while you say, “awwww”). This recipe is an adaptation of the recipe I got years ago from my husband’s grandmother.

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Enjoy these with a cup of coffee or tea. To all who celebrate Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah, I wish you happy holidays. I hope you have traditions you cherish.

Thanks for reading!

Welsh Cookies

5 Cups Flour

1 Cup Sugar

3 tsp. Baking Powder

1 ¼ tsp. Nutmeg

1 tsp. Salt

Cut into the above—by hand or by using a food processor

¾ lb. Butter

Add:

1 Cup Currants

3 Eggs beaten with a fork, plus enough milk to make 1 cup liquid.

Mix well, and roll out—not too thin. Cut into rounds and cook on an ungreased griddle. They cook quickly!

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8 thoughts on “Mixing and Stirring: Blending Food, Family, and Friend

    • Marjorie–It’s not a cookbook, although it does have some historical recipes. It’s called History of American Cooking, and you can order it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or most any bookstore. It’s also available on Kindle.

  1. You really need to change the last sentence of paragraph 4. It reads- “At the same time, there will also be plenty of turkey for those who mostly do eat meat.”
    I think it should be changed to either…there will also be plenty of turkey for them that wants, or as an alternative- There will also be plenty of turkey for “the men.” You choose- HAHAHAHA

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