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The Elusive Christmas Rutabaga

rutabaga
“No Christmas dinner is complete without rutabaga.” ~Andshelaughs~

At 11:30 p.m. one Christmas eve, long, long ago, and about ten kilometers away, I almost tossed away one of the most cherished traditional foods to grace our Christmas table; the elusive Southwestern Ontario Rutabaga.

Had it not been for a squash turned bitter-el-yucko from being grown too close to the gourd patch, I may not be telling you this story.

That evening I had given in to my lovely British boyfriend’s aversion to turnip in favour of squash. I had also ensured that we had his cherished brussel sprouts and enough potatoes to make our mashed and his roasted, along with a sure-thing bread sauce mix for the turkey. Anyway, the squash tasted like bitter-el-yucko (that’s Spanish slang for; it-tasted-like-shit).

So, literally at the eleventh hour, I hustled my chubby bustle to the twenty-four-hour grocer across the street, who would be closing at midnight for Christmas. What was I hoping to find? Not a squash which may have also been contaminated, but  the elusive Christmas Rutabaga. I learned my lesson that year; stick with rutabaga, because it never let’s you down.

You may have read my last post, Caring Less That It’s Christmas. To say I’m not in the Christmas spirit is putting things mildly. So, tonight, unlike most years, I ran out to get the Christmas groceries before the parking-lots become a UFC event tomorrow.

This is not like me. I’m usually el-finito with the Christmas groceries at least two weeks in advance, except for staples like milk and red wine, our pantry is decked out like we’re ready for nuclear holocaust by November 30th.

This year the only items I had stocked up on were sour cream and coloured mini-marshmallows (for my retro 70’s squares). Those darn marshmallows sit on the shelf all year, and then go MIA every year right after Thanksgiving.

I had everything I needed paid for and packed carefully in shopping bags; the orange jello for our tacky jello dish, the pineapple and mandarin oranges for the traditional ambrosia, a thousand pounds of butter for our thousand pounds of sweet treats, five cases of soda, bags of chips, frozen pizza for the teenagers to eat during their lazy days at home, cat food so little Willie Nelson doesn’t starve, tangerines, brown sugar, icing sugar, white sugar, flour, not to mention our every-day groceries that have nutritional value.  But I did not have the rutabaga.

So I stopped at the next store over. No rutabaga.

It took me three stops before I finally got my gnarled up little paws on a rutabaga. Three stores!!!

I like to think that it’s worth the effort. That my son will remember our traditional Canadian food, and that our guests feel like it’s Christmas when they join us on Christmas day. So tonight, I can put my feed up safe in the knowledge that everything I need for our Christmas dinner, and my Christmas baking trays is ready to go.

Once I had successfully captured the elusive Christmas rutabaga, I could cross the last thing off my Christmas shopping list, and there’s no greater feeling. Well, maybe a pedicure and the undivided thorough and proper attention of a good man, but I digress.

Tomorrow is baking day; snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, shortbread, whipped shortbread with chocolate nougat, my 70’s retro squares, a batch of fudge, pineapple squares, biscotti, maybe some caramel corn, and the last drenching of the fruitcake with rum.

Now I bet you’re wishing that bitter-el-yucko squash hadn’t been grown so close to the gourd patch aren’t you? You’re kinda wishing I kept my trap shut and switched to common squash. But I’m not common my darlings. I’m a country girl at heart who loves tradition even more than she actually enjoys the rutabaga.  Go figure.

Wishing you a peaceful and relaxing weekend before the fat-man in the red-suit shimmies down your chimney next week.

 

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Christmas Countdown

 "I don't care. We'll decorate it and it'll be just right for our play. Besides, I think it needs me. " ~Charlie Brown~
“I don’t care. We’ll decorate it and it’ll be just right for our play. Besides, I think it needs me. “
~Charlie Brown~

Whether you like it or not, it’s that time of year.

I’ve seen countless pithy social media posts whining about holding off on Christmas celebrations until after Remembrance Day.

Pish Posh!

Celebrating anything after Halloween and before Remembrance Day does not minimize the solemn honouring of the men and women who have fought to keep our country free. Rest assured, that on November 11th, I will be not only wearing my poppy, but attending a memorial service.

Note to the cynics out there who are rolling their scrooge-like eyes; I finish my shopping before the end of November. My idea of Christmas is not fighting over parking spots and being elbowed like a pinball through the mall.

As I begin to squirrel away special gifts for my near and dear, and drizzle more rum on the fruitcake, I am giddy with the thought that I might be fortunate enough to celebrate all  of the following between now and the new year;

1) Coffee chats with friends over eggnog lattes, caramel brulee lattes, or even a glass or two of wine.

2) Leisurely shopping to finish up the last few gifts that I need to buy.

3) Writing Christmas cards and receiving Christmas cards.

4) Mistletoes kisses

5) Hearthside humping love-making

6) A toasty shot or two of bourbon or scotch with my writer pals

7) Escaping into the world of Christmas romance novels

8) Baking every kind of cookie you can imagine

9) Outdoor, night-time skating

10) A night-time parade

11) Civic tree-lighting, carol singing and outdoor Christmas markets

12) Our annual visit to the craft show with my mumster

13) The first night admiring the lights on the Christmas tree

14) Donating to my local food bank and  the Salvation Army

15) Christmas afternoon and dinner with my friends

16) Communion on Christmas eve and singing Silent Night by candlelight in the sanctuary

17) Watching my favourite Christmas movies; White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, The Sound of Music, It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story

18) Hosting dinners and gatherings

19) Listening to Christmas music

20) Always having ‘room for one more’ when it comes to sharing the spirit of the season.

21) Raspberry Schweppes gingerale

22) Hot apple cider

23) The smell of cloves and pine

24) Invitations to parties and dinners

25) Listening to the Christmas story read in our candlelit church

26) Watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special

 

……what are you looking forward to this Christmas?

 

 

 

 

 

Entertainment · Humor · Humour · Recipes · Uncategorized

Tacky Christmas Jello Salads

      “Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.”~Doug Larson ~
“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.”
~Doug Larson ~

When I was a kid, I never really understood why anyone would bother making a jello salad. My old, weird aunt would show up with something green or red, with grapes and canned fruit salad suspended inside. These salads, like coleslaw, were what I used to call ‘filler’ on the table.  Why bother if no one likes them?

As many of you know, as you grow older, and move far from home,nostalgia often gets the better of you, and you find yourself with jello salad (or other oddities) on the Christmas table because it wouldnt’ be Christmas dinner without it.

So, today I give you, just in the nick of time for Christmas, two tried, tested and true jello salad recipes.

The first is 5 cup salad, or ambrosia. The second is what has come to be known as the Christmas Fish in my home, an orange jello with pineapple and carrots all set in a fish-shaped mold (it looks like a giant goldfish on the table). It takes tacky jello salad to new heights.

5 CUP SALAD5 cup salad

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup crushed pineapple (drained)

1 cup mandarin orange segments (drained)

1 cup white marshmallows

Combine all in a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate up to one day before serving. Particularly lovely when it mingles with the stuffing on your plate.

***      ***      ***      ***      ****

TACKY JELLO CHRISTMAS FISHjello fish

2 packets orange jello

1/2  cup boiling water

1/2 envelope gelatine soaked in 1 tbsp water

1 cup grated carrot

1 can  crushed pineapple with the juice

Combine boiling water with jello and gelatine and combine well. Stir in carrot and pineapple. Place in mold and refrigerate.

To take jello out of the mold, gently dip the top of the mold in warm water and then turn over onto a serving dish.

These two little culinary gems will be on my Christmas dinner table for my Canadian kin-folk. They inspire laughter, and talk of our memories of childhood, when Santa was real, and snow was magical.