When Christmas time rolls around I’m instinctively drawn to some of the more old-fashioned Christmases in the form of decorations, recipes, enjoyable traditions, etc. While I love the modern conveniences of today as much as the next person, for some reason the more old-fashioned approach to Christmas just lifts my spirits. So in the spirit of Christmas I thought I’d share with you 3 of my best recipes that I love to use at this time of year. I learn these kinds of recipes from historical records, journals, and family recipes which have been passed down for generations, as well as from some great books I always seem to find in the “For sale” section of my library each month.
The name of this comforting drink may be enough to cause you to pucker but I complete enjoy it. You can indulge in this beverage in the winter or summer simply by changing the temperature at which you serve it. Don’t underestimate it because of its simpleness.
This recipe actually originated with Native Americans who had a long tradition of collecting sap from maple trees and then boiled it down to make a both syrups and a flavored sugar.
2 Tablespoons of real maple syrup
Add ice cubes if you’d like
Squeeze the juice from one wedge of lemon (about a 4th the size of a lemon)
Stir and enjoy.
For a comforting warm winter treat use hot water instead—but be sure to still use the lemon and also add a half a stick of cinnamon.
In lieu of having lemons on hand, you can simmer a teaspoon of lemon rind in 2 cups of water and it will be a perfect addition to your warm drink.
(I use crystallized lemon wedges when I’m making a summer drink and fresh lemons aren’t available.)
This is so simple and yet absolutely addictive. It’s interesting to note that when the settlers first came to this continent, the Native Americans readily used corn, maple syrup, and tubers. So when the settlers came and combined their love for apples, dairy products and wheat flour they added to the staples of the Native Americans. Soon both peoples were using the combination of ingredients regularly.
2 cups of milk
½ cup of coarse cornmeal
2 T. of butter, melted
½ cup of molasses (lighter is better for this recipe)
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup of dried fruit, preferably raisins
Preheat your oven or solar oven to 325.
Heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat without allowing it to come to a boil.
In a bowl, stir the cornmeal into the cider and then slowly pour that mixture into the saucepan of warm milk. Continue to cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring continuously until it’s thickened. (This will take about 20 minutes)
Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and then gentle whisk them into the milk mixture.
Pour the batter into a greased/floured 9x13x2 inch pan (I use my stoneware) and bake in the oven for one hour.
This easily serves 8 people but I usually end up doubling the batch and am then able to eek out 24 modest servings.
When it comes to Christmas dinner, I suspect that there are very few of you who would think of a steaming bowl of fish soup. But you'd be surprised at how quickly this dish can replace the traditional turkey or ham. I remember such a dish frequently on Christmas Eve. Meat of all kinds was an important staple to the early pioneers’ diet. A lot of the families would fish during the warmer weather and then smoke the fish to use later as toppings on freshly baked bread or to make a delicious fish soup. This recipe tastes great with fresh fish or even dried fish--though the use of dried fish adds a nice smoky flavor and requires a longer simmer time to coax the flavors out of it.
1 pound of bass, trout, salmon, or swordfish—washed and deboned
½ cup of fresh cilantro (or 2 tablespoons of dried)
1 large onion (or you can use ¼ cup of dehydrated onion), diced
4 carrots, diced (I use 1/12 cups of my freeze-dried carrots)
2 celery stalks, diced (I use 2/3 cup of my dehydrated celery)
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. chili sauce. (this is optional, but I just can’t imagine the dish without it.)
2 cups of cooked rice or Chinese noodles (optional if you want more of a broth-based dish)
Put the fish, cilantro, carrots, celery, and onion into a medium sized pot with a lid. Cover with cold water and then cover the pot and simmer for ½ hour. (if using freeze-dried or dehydrated products, add one extra cup of water for every ¼ cup of freeze-dried or dehydrated ingredients). Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Then add the rice/noodles. Continue cooking until the starch is warmed through.
Add a dash of white pepper to taste.
Here's wishing you a FABULOUS Christmas full of joy and plenty of family and friends!