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Holiday traditions and passing on ancestorial skills  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Yeah, I was aiming for a little bit pretentious with that title. It's actually something that stuck with me once from a fantasy novel. The characters there ate traditional 'famine foods' on certain holidays so that when there were real famines everyone knew how to prepare them.

Happy Thanksgiving for the Americans out there. If your family is anything like mine, you're already in the kitchen doing what you can to prepare ahead of time, for tomorrow's unapologetic gluttony. In my family that means everyone makes at least one dish for the meal. I have photos of helping my niece whip cream when she was a toddler. This year that same niece has been preparing her own recipe for a green bean casserole. Her little sister is baking pies, including one where she gathered and shelled all the pecans herself. My brother transports appetizers and vegetables to our house. I don't miss the days when I was carting a whole turkey across the city each year. Splitting the work like this lets us all have time consuming favorites on the table and gives us the excuse to practice and teach our family recipes. (Oh drat, I just realized we forgot to assign someone the cauliflower. Have to make that at Christmas.)

Tomorrow many people in the country will be roasting whole birds, using the giblets for stuffings and gravies. Families who hardly ever eat a vegetable with be roasting and baking traditional vegetables. Cookbooks are being carefully read right now as people bake their pies, cookies, cakes, and dinner rolls. Do enough people still cook their own holiday dinners that some cooking skills are being preserved in this fashion, or is this only a practice in families who already cook with real food? What kinds of recipes or other skills do you think could be surviving due to holiday traditions?
 
gardener
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Have a great Thanksgiving day, Casie and everyone!

Our family is rather small now that the grandparents have passed on and we have no grandchildren.

I will take some ham out of the freezer, top it with pineapple and serve with baked beans and rolls. And a sweet potatoe, for me that I baked yesterday.

For the past 10 years or so we usually have tamales for thanksgiving so maybe instead of ham, we will have tamales.

My favorite is turkey with dressing cooked in a roasting pan and served with giblet gravy, mash potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.  My dressing recipe was from a cookbook from Lincoln's boyhood home and my gravy was from the Fannie Farmer cookbook.

 
Casie Becker
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Sounds similar to what my family has, though these days we often have a cranberry fluff instead or as well as cranberry relish. My sister found that if she whips cream and gelatin she can replace Cool Whip.

I just got proof that holiday cooking isn't teaching as much as I hope. My ten year old niece asked me how the turkey was coming, and I said I hadn't even put it in the oven yet. Her response, "Oh, does the turkey use the oven?"
 
Anne Miller
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I hope everyone is recovering from the Big day!

We have been processing deer and spent all yesterday using the vacuum sealer, Food Saver.  Last week we canned 20 pint jars of venison.  We will start grinding venison today.

I was so tired that I never got the ham out of the freezer so we had chicken thighs, Stove Top dressing, and Heinz Turkey Gravy.  Something quick that I could fix between Wagon Train and NYPD Blues.
 
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Location: West Central Georgia
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In my limited experience, how a family cooks the rest of the year will be how they cook Thanksgiving dinner.  My in-laws host and do nearly all the cooking.  But last year we were sick and couldn't be around our more elderly relatives, so I suddenly had to cook for our nuclear family of 5--well I had a couple days' notice.  It was natural to do it all from scratch because generally, that's how I cook anyway (90% of the time), and my husband likes turkey and dressing for several weeks after Thanksgiving.  What I didn't know how to do, I googled--like cranberry sauce.  I liked that loads better than canned, which is how I grew up.  My mom serves canned cranberry sauce regardless of the occasion.

Time will tell with my kids.  They want to help randomly throughout the year, but they didn't help a whole lot with Thanksgiving last year.  My daughter helped my mother-in-law this year, though.  I think at least, that regardless of how we are raised, we can do things differently as adults--for good or for ill.  It's just the taking off point that differs.  I'd rather have my kids know how to do things they choose not to do than not know how to do things they want or need to do.  With cooking, I let them come and help whenever they ask--they're here all day every day, so they have a lot of opportunities.  I don't force the cooking part yet, they are young.  I hope to have meal shifts when they are older, though.
 
pollinator
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Great topic!
My son "helped" thus year in that he prepared and served a recipe,and cleaned up after himself ,some.

This is the first year I have made rolls via my mother's recipe.
I usually use a no knead recipe that's pretty good,but I forgot to make the dough ahead of time,so I called my momma😊
Ironically,she no longer uses the old recipe,her hand doesn't let her knead anymore.
My kneading has been limited to human backs and pottery clay,so I was nervous about pulling off something worthy of the tradition,but they turned out great!
Not as good as moms,naturally ,but so damned good,they will be going into regular rotation,along side my white,wheat and pumpernickel breads.

I ran out of time to bake a punk-potato pie this year.
Created in response to my mixed family's heritage, it combines sweet potato and pumpkin into one pie.
Even leaving out the fact that my crusts suck, it isn't actually very good😝!
But my kids are asking me to make it again,which just goes to show, nostalgia is perhaps the sweetest spice...
 
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Great topic! 

Well, our family forages so of course we have wild foods that are part of our holiday traditions.  Acorn stuffing is one of the oldest traditions here.  Acorns were the first wild foods we learned how to process and things like acorn muffins and stuffing became mainstays for all of our special meals.  I have just completed an acorn foraging book and cookbook with over 90 recipes, so this year involved a lot of extra acorn recipes while I was testing.  :) 

Elderberries are another tradition for our feasts (yep, there's an elderberry foraging guide and cookbook, too!), so things like elderberry lemonade and elderberry meringue pie are family traditions.  Wild asparagus is often featured too.  We tend to harvest about 50-60 pounds of wild asparagus a year so it's one of the wild foods we have throughout the fall and winter, as opposed to things like morels that we devour all up in season.

Our oldest daughter always makes the cranberry sauce.  I hate the canned stuff but her simple recipe is just fresh cranberries, orange juice and sugar, and it's wonderful.  We usually ask her to make a double batch so we have lots of leftovers.  I would like each of the kids to eventually have a signature dish to add but we'll see how that goes.  Sometimes I am not up for that many "helpers" in my kitchen at once when I'm cooking a feast.  LOL

I do my best to pass on "ancestral skills" to my kids all year, too.  I cook for 8 (hubby, 4 kids at home, and oldest daughter and fiance come for dinner every night) on a very small budget, and it's important to me that my kids learn how to do that and still have healthy, real foods.  Foraging and cooking from scratch are two ways we do that, along with things like gardening and putting things up. 

I want my kids to always know that they can eat well even when times are really hard.  For example, last month there was a day when we were expecting our food co-op delivery and I hadn't been to a grocery store in a few weeks.  The truck didn't come and I had to feed 8, and I managed to do it with just things we had "put up" and a few basics, and much of it had been foraged so it was free.  We had cream of asparagus soup and acorn drop biscuits.  It was all delicious (my 10 year old had 5 biscuits!) and mostly organic, and nobody needed to go to a grocery store.  :)  (picture below)
acorndropbiscuits.jpg
[Thumbnail for acorndropbiscuits.jpg]
 
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