<strong>• By Virginia Walters, For the Peninsula Clarion</strong>                                Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

• By Virginia Walters, For the Peninsula Clarion Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Holidays, time to eat

It’s that time of year to pull out the old recipe box and find something that brings back memories.

  • By Virginia Walters For the Peninsula Clarion
  • Saturday, November 23, 2019 10:00pm
  • Life

It’s that time of year when I pull out the old recipe box (that’s old recipes and old box) and find something to cook that brings back memories. I don’t cook much most of the time. There are only two of us, and it’s too easy to make waffles, buy a pizza, or even make PBJ at night if we have gone out for lunch. I used to scold my parents for having cold cereal for supper, but now I understand. I am always a little glad to have the kids come by because it gives me an excuse to at least bake a potato or make a hamburger.

That’s one of the reasons this time of year is extra special, because I can bring out the old recipes and spend an afternoon pretending it’s 1965 and I have a crowd to entertain!

I made mincemeat a couple of weeks ago. I must admit I was an adult before I knew that some people make mincemeat without meat. Those friends were astonished to learn that “real” mincemeat does in fact have meat in it. They use green tomatoes and lots of apples and raisins and spices, but no meat (obviously, they never hunted for Minces). That defeats the purpose, I think, because mincemeat is probably the oldest technique used to preserve meat. (Think pemmican). It started as a more savory dish, with salt and acid, but sometime in the middle ages they added sugar and it morphed into the delicacy we know today.

I have a couple of old recipes I rely on, but the thing about mincemeat is there really isn’t a recipe. It’s all by taste. That is the way my grandmothers did it, and my mom, so that is the way I go. And it’s never the same twice. Some years I use orange juice as the liquid, other times water laced with brandy. Even with today’s modern methods, i.e. electric grinders and pressure cookers, it is still an all-day process to cook it down and get it in jars. And the kitchen smells so good!

Another seasonal recipe is fruitcake. (I know!) I have a couple of friends and a daughter-in-law who like fruitcake, so that is an easy giveaway at Christmas time. I make them ahead, because fruitcake and mincemeat have to age to really be good. I wrap the cakes in a brandy-soaked cloth and stick them in the fridge for a couple of weeks or more. By the time the day arrives, brandy stock has risen a few points on Wall Street, I’m sure, because every other dessert this time of year uses “a splash of brandy.” My grandmother used to call and ask Hubby to go to the liquor store for her and get two bottles of brandy, one apricot and one regular “for the fruit cakes.” He’d deliver them and be rewarded with a small glass of each to make sure it was “just right.”

And, of course, candy. I’ve told you the continuing saga of Dad’s Fudge. No one can make it like he did, despite having the recipe and step-by-step instructions — but my sisters and I all keep trying. Someday one of us will succeed, and she will be heralded as the new Fudge Queen! One of dad’s sisters made heavenly divinity, so the holidays when we were kids were filled with lots of competition and lots of sweet stuff. Aunt Ev made divinity at the drop of a hat, so all the households were favored with it along with all of the other specialties of the season from Thanksgiving ‘til New Year’s.

And so it goes. Current tradition has Thanksgiving leading us into the end of year holiday season embracing Christmas and New Year’s. For the next month or so all thoughts turn to food. It has already begun — with pumpkin spice everything since before Halloween — but starting this week, it gets serious and all the stops are pulled out as we dash headlong into the holidays.

Everyone’s mother had a favorite holiday meal that probably was adapted from her mother’s special dinners. Each generation copies the last while adjusting for new family members and different eating trends. I have dropped the homemade dinner rolls (I’m sorry, Mom) because the meal is already heavy on carbs, and my family was choosing an extra helping of stuffing and leaving the rolls. (Of course, they pick up the bread later for turkey sandwiches.) Daughter-in-law has inserted a fluffy Jell-O because some of her kids prefer it to heavier side dishes. And it’s good!

That is the spirit of Thanksgiving, isn’t it? Cultures sharing food and giving thanks for a successful year and petitioning for another. So, as we eat our way into the season, please raise an eggnog in thanks for another year ended.

Happy Thanksgiving.

More in Life

Powerful truth of resurrection reverberates even today

Don’t let the resurrection of Jesus become old news

Nell and Homer Crosby were early homesteaders in Happy Valley. Although they had left the area by the early 1950s, they sold two acres on their southern line to Rex Hanks. (Photo courtesy of Katie Matthews)
A Kind and Sensitive Man: The Rex Hanks Story — Part 1

The main action of this story takes place in Happy Valley, located between Anchor Point and Ninilchik on the southern Kenai Peninsula

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Chloe Jacko, Ada Bon and Emerson Kapp rehearse “Clue” at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska, on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Whodunit? ‘Clue’ to keep audiences guessing

Soldotna High School drama department puts on show with multiple endings and divergent casts

Leora McCaughey, Maggie Grenier and Oshie Broussard rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Singing, dancing and a lot of ABBA

Nikiski Theater puts on jukebox musical ‘Mamma Mia!’

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A tasty project to fill the quiet hours

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer

Minister’s Message: How to grow old and not waste your life

At its core, the Bible speaks a great deal about the time allotted for one’s life

Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson appear in “Civil War.” (Promotional photo courtesy A24)
Review: An unexpected battle for empathy in ‘Civil War’

Garland’s new film comments on political and personal divisions through a unique lens of conflict on American soil

What are almost certainly members of the Grönroos family pose in front of their Anchor Point home in this undated photograph courtesy of William Wade Carroll. The cabin was built in about 1903-04 just north of the mouth of the Anchor River.
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story— Part 2

The five-member Grönroos family immigrated from Finland to Alaska in 1903 and 1904

Aurora Bukac is Alice in a rehearsal of Seward High School Theatre Collective’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska, on Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward in ‘Wonderland’

Seward High School Theatre Collective celebrates resurgence of theater on Eastern Kenai Peninsula

Most Read