First, the new. For the second year in a row my mom made an amazing bacon-wrapped, savory breadcrumb stuffed beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner. This year was even better than the last, with the fine, buttery, herby, crispy breadcrumbs providing an excellent match to the rich, medium rare roast. Turkey’s got nothin’ on this.
She also made a pumpkin-apple soup for the first time, veggie-stock based for my vegetarian sister. The light and flavorful soup was a refreshing start to our decadent meal.
Second, the old. When I was a kid, the first hour or so of Christmas morning was torturous. My sister and I could open our stockings, but no presents until all adults were awake, caffienated and we had all eaten breakfast. The torture was somewhat mitigated by the fact that breakfast was always my Grandma Sally’s amazing cinnamon rolls, helping to quench our present lust. Not overly sweet and not dripping in a sticky glaze, these simple rolls, heated and spread with butter, always delight. I’d asked my Grandma for the recipe awhile back and she explained the only way I could learn to make them was for her to show me. This year my vacation timing worked out and my sister and I took a cinnamon roll making lesson. She starts with a basic white bread recipe, and fills her rolls with a layer of butter, copius amounts of brown sugar and a light dusting of cinnamon. I plan much practicing this spring.
Finally, the rediscovered. My other grandmother, Grandma ‘Nita, is Finnish. Recently, my dad began making Pannu Kakku again, a Finnish baked pancake that you spread with jam. It’s custard-like in texture, reminiscent of flan. We had this on Christmas Eve morning, but it works equally well as a dessert. Also, my Grandmother brought us a loaf of Nissu, a sweet bread spiced with cardamom, made by a friend of hers. This is also an excellent breakfast item, toasted and spread with more jam.
All in all, a delicious holiday, made more so by the joy of sharing it with my wonderful family. And of course, this is just my side of things—J’s family is full of food traditions as well—the absolute best apple pie ever, thin, crisp, buttery sugar cookies, his Mom’s cinannmon bread…More than a few extra gym hours will be necessary in the next few weeks.