My brain is bamboozled. The end of 2020 looms, and aren’t we ready for that! The holidays are upon us, and even the scroogiest among us finds SOMETHING to smile about, even if only in reminiscing. So why, oh why, is it so challenging for me to come up with a column topic? Maybe it’s because there are tons of (1) causes to support, (2) stories to share, (3) opinions to flaunt, (4) emotions to sort, and (5) recipes to dig out and enjoy during the season.
We probably all have foods that we love, that we grew up believing only our family ate. Why is that, I wonder. Why do we reserve them just for the holidays? Looking back on our family favorites, it might have been partly an expense-related decision to have ice box roll and amagation cake served only at Christmas time. (Note: This laptop did not want to allow ‘amagation’ but I persisted. Yes, it is SUPPOSED to be ‘amalgamation’ but my toddler tongue couldn’t say that, so amagation it is. I win the battle with autocorrect this time). Both the roll and the cake have ingredients that might have been rationed in the early days, so the tradition evolved to make them extra-special by serving only once a year. When I make them, it’s the time I buy all new spices and start fresh with all the ingredients. I need all the help I can get when competing with the tastes I remember from my grandmother’s and my mother’s kitchens.
The recipes together are time-consuming as well as dollars-consuming. Even though the ice box roll is a no-bake concoction, it’s an ordeal to make. When I was young I remember nut-cracking and chopping going on. Sometimes I helped cut marshmallows with scissors before all the ingredients – which included dates and raisins, graham crackers and cream – were put through the food chopper attached to the side of the kitchen table.
The ooey-gooey mess that wound up in the bowl was shaped into a loaf, wrapped in wax paper, then plastic wrap, then one of the prettiest Christmas dish towels. It was stored in the refrigerator to be sliced and served on Christmas eve. That ooey-gooey mess was a marvelously tasty treat. I loved it as much as dad did, so at our house it didn’t last long. The two of us ate most of it.
If I want to enjoy that Christmas tradition this year, I better get off this laptop and into the kitchen! Thank goodness for packaged walnut pieces and miniature marshmallows!