There are some great Christmas Eve traditions out there. One of the ones I found this year that I want to make a tradition in my family is a Christmas Eve Box. You open it on Christmas Eve and it has things in it to make your night really memorable. You can put anything you want in it, new pj’s, popcorn, hot chocolate, favorite movie or cookies. I’m making one this year for my family and one for my boyfriend to take home to his parents.
I don’t know about you but I love to have something sweet for breakfast on Christmas day. Why not make it a tradition to all help out and make the Christmas breakfast the night before. This way no one has to miss out on any part of Christmas morning because they are making breakfast. My personal favorites are sticky buns or cinnamon rolls. I’m making sticky buns with my mom this year for Christmas morning.
A great tradition that encourages literacy is to read a new Christmas book before bed. Whether you read a new book that you gave as a gift or one from your local library it’s a great tradition to start. It can be so exciting for little kids on Christmas eve so keeping a bit of their normal bed time routine will help them sleep.
Titles pictured above
Bear stays up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
Gingerbread friends by Jan Brett
Christmas farm by Mary Lyn Ray
Snow party by Harriet Ziefert
A very Marley Christmas by John Grogan
The lump of coal by Lemony Snicket
Amazing peace by Maya Angelou
I don’t know about you but winter is one of my favourite times to cook. You can make Sunday roast anything with roasted veggies and gravy, hearty stews, pot pies, and almost any comfort food you can imagine. I love spending a snowy afternoon in the kitchen in the winter, the smell of something amazing in the oven, seeing the snow falling outside and being nice and toasty by the stove just makes me feel so happy. I also love how the smell of hearty winter cooking brings people in to the kitchen to see what is being made, whether it’s an amazing stew, a roasting chicken or simply a squash roasting, everyone wants to know what that amazing smell is.
This is one of our favourite stews, we never have any leftovers. Sometimes we make this with dumplings on really cold nights.
1 lb good stewing beef, preferably organic free run but anything will work.
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 carrots
1 or 2 parsnips
1 or 2 celery stalks if you want
2 medium tins of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
fresh ground pepper
Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a pot or deep frying pan. Chop the onion and put it in the pot when the oil is hot, cook them just until they begin to get soft. Mince the garlic and add it when the onions are soft. Roughly chop the carrots, parsnip, and celery and throw them into the pot.
When the carrots are just starting to get soft add your stewing beef. Make sure you pat away any moisture from the meat or it will not brown. Make sure all the sides of the beef are browned before adding any liquid.
Once the meat is browned add the tomatoes and red wine. Chop the potatoes into small just slightly bigger than bite sized pieces and add them to the stew making sure they are submerged. Leave the bay leaves whole and submerge them in the stew. Add the sea salt, pepper and dried oregano to taste. Let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes remove the bay leaves and enjoy.
Winter cook books:
Roast figs, sugar snow: Winter food to warm the soul by Diana Henry
Winter gatherings: casual food to enjoy with family and friends by Rick Rodgers
The ski house cookbook: warm winter dishes for cold weather fun by Tina Anderson
To continue my post about cooking out of your comfort zone I have a story about making potato latkes. I love latkes, something about them screams comfort food to me. I think this might be because they are fried potato that you get to put sauces on, who wouldn’t like that?
Because I have a wheat allergy I can’t eat latkes if they are not made with gluten free flour so the Whole Foods ones are out. I finally took the plunge and made them myself. I don’t have a food processor so I had to grate each potato by hand. This is so hard to do, I know why I never did this in the past, it was so hard to keep a good grip on the potato and not grate your knuckles. Once you have grated the potatoes you have to put them in a tea towel and wring out all the moisture. I was surprised by the amount of liquid that came out. The place I had the most trouble was frying them. They turned out perfect it went so well except when I went to flip a larger one. I splashed hot oil all up my arm. My arm looked like I worked on a fry line. I would highly recommend making your own latkes, they were so good and even reheated nicely.
To build on my last post about Christmas lights I thought I would share this really cool light set up to music I found on YouTube.