Navidad…One Dish at a Time

Are you looking forward to “eating your way through” the Christmas holiday? Do you have any favorite Christmas meals? What about special desserts? I know I sure have some favorites! When I was a kid, my mom made chocolate-covered cherries from scratch. I remember counting the days until they had been in the closet three weeks; that’s how long it took for the syrup to form on the inside. I focus on chocolate, so another great dessert is what Mom called Martha Washington balls. (Here in Nebraska they are called elephant balls. It makes for some interesting conversations!) Basically, peanut butter balls are dipped in melted chocolate. Simply amazing! Don’t even get me started on the homemade eclairs! I lurked in the kitchen hoping to snag the first one. Punchbowl cake is another favorite of ours. In case you’re wondering about the cake, I’ll post the recipe in the next few days. It’s decorative and tasty!

A main meal treat when I was a kid was Aunt Ottie’s cordon bleu chicken. It is labor intense, however. Mom fixed spiral-cut ham with a mustard glaze that is to die for! There are so many “foodie” memories….I don’t know about you, but baked macaroni and cheese has always been one of my favorite comfort foods; Mom always cooked her noodles, put them in a baking dish and poured in a mixture of milk, flour (to thicken it) and sugar. Chicken in Mom’s barbecue sauce is a winner, too. Sorry if this is making you hungry….

Once we moved to Mexico, our family traditions changed a bit. Mom wasn’t close enough to cook for us, so we had to make do. Ysabela and I loved the tres leches cake. For those of you who have never heard of it, that means three milk cake. It’s what some call a “wet cake.”

In Seye (a small village outside of Merida), the neighbor’s family gathered to make tamales. I’m so glad they invited us over! Tamales quickly became one of my favorite dishes ever. An unexpected treat was what they called “sandwichon.” That means a big sandwich. Bread was sliced lengthwise, the crusts were cut off and layers of ham, cheese and sauce were added. There are recipes online for those who really want to know. I looked one up today to share with my students.

I guess the point is that no matter where you live, there’s always something to anticipate for the holidays. Maybe it’s a quiet meal at home with family and comfort food; maybe it’s a house full of extended family, friends and movies. Some people I know simply enjoy the time off from work and make no plans at all. Whatever your way is, enjoy it to the max!

The Chicken Chick

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