Holidays are all about family, to me that is. When I think back to my favorite holiday memories I can remember playing with my cousins on grandma and grandpa’s farm, swinging from the barn swing on Thanksgiving, my cousins and I decorating our grandparent’s trees with Christmas lights and opening those cherished presents.
As I have matured and grown my holidays are spent reminiscing about old stories with my brothers, chatting about the grandkids with my sister-in-laws, listening to mom and dad talk about their own stories about each one of us kids and watching whatever sport my be on the television.
This is my older brother David and his beautiful family. He has three highly rambunctious children (Sydnee, Hunter and Luke) and a very special wife, Kara, who is a dear friend to me. I had the opportunity to begin teaching Sydnee how to crochet this Thanksgiving. I sure hope she sticks with it.
My other brother Mike has one smart and totally adorable little boy, Logan, and another one that is due next summer. His wife Audrey I’ve known since I was in the seventh grade. Audrey and I spent this weekend bringing up old stories about Mike in his younger and wilder days.
Yes, it’s true. The holidays are about time spent with family and the great food that comes along with each meal. As I have grown it’s the holidays that have become some of my favorite memories with my family.
It was during the holidays that I first really learned to cook a few of my family’s cherished recipes. My mother would watch over my shoulder each time a measured or added an ingredient into a pie mixture or a casserole. But, as I have grown I’ve noticed that she now sits back and watches, and now I can teach her some new recipes.
For example, one family favorite during Thanksgiving and Christmas in the Baldwin family is to serve my Grandmother’s Famous Sweet Potatoes. Well, this year I wanted to try a new sweet potato dish.
I made Paula Deen’s Sweet Potato Bake for my husband’s family Thanksgiving and it was a hit. Although, I did think the recipe was a little too sweet. (I decreased the amount of sugar in the Sweet Potato Bake to ½ cup of white sugar instead of the 1 cup it called for.)
My mother was getting ready to start boiling the potatoes and I told her that we should try something different than Grandma’s recipe. I don’t think she was too fond of the idea to start with, but after telling her how much easier and fun it would be she agreed.
As she watched me make the dish she said, “Looks to easy to be good.” That’s my mother….a country cook through and through. I told her not to worry.
When my family all sat down and began eating, the comments about the casserole started to fly. First, my father asked where his sweet potatoes were and I told him, “Right here, but this year we made a casserole instead.” He didn’t have a very happy look on his face. (My dad looks forward to Grandma’s Sweet Potatoes every year….so needless to say he was a little disappointed.)
But as everyone around the table began eating the bake they all had wonderful comments, even every single one of my family’s four grandkids. My mother even said she thinks she’ll start making this recipe more often.
Sometimes it’s good to try new holiday recipes, even though you may be highly attached to those old holiday classics. Be creative this holiday and try something new in your family. You might just be pleasantly surprised and discover a new family favorite.
Here’s a Schoeneberg family favorite that Beth shared with me a couple of months ago. I finally got around to trying it out and it’s a true winner in my book.
by Beth Schoeneberg
24 Graham crackers crushed (about 2 cups)
1/3 C sugar
½ C butter
2 eggs beaten
¾ C Sugar
8oz Cream Cheese
2 C pumpkin
3 Egg yolks
½ C sugar
½ C Milk
½ tsp salt
1 T Cinnamon
1 Pkg. Envelope plain gelatin
¼ C Water – cold
3 Egg Whites
¼ C sugar
½ Pint Whipping Cream (or Cool Whip)
Mix graham crackers, 1/3 C sugar and ½ C butter. Press into 9"x13" pan. Mix the 2 eggs, ¾ C sugar and creamed cheese – pour over graham cracker crust. Bake at 350o for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add gelatin dissolved in cold water – set aside.
In a saucepan on the stove top, cook pumpkin, egg yolks, ½ C sugar, milk, salt and cinnamon until mixture thickens. Add gelatin mixture and allow to cool. Beat egg whites and ¼ C sugar and fold into pumpkin mixture. Pour over cooled baked crust. Top with Whipped cream.