Monday, March 25, 2013

A nice possibility for Christmas Eve supper

(Photo by Taste of Home)
I realize that many families already have their own traditions for Christmas Eve supper.  Some like to have a meatless meal; others favor seafood, and so on.  At our house, it's Christmas Eve Soup, served very simply with corn muffins, biscuits or rolls (or sometimes with cheese pizza), with either ambrosia or ice cream and Christmas cookies for dessert.  This year, it was so special when my 11-year-old granddaughter arrived for the Christmas Eve meal bearing a foil-covered plate of holiday rice crispy treats she had made herself, to share for dessert.  I love seeing traditions carried on!

When I was a child, our family's traditional meal for Christmas Eve was macaroni and cheese.  My mother made hers with a rich cheese sauce, loaded with sharp or maybe extra-sharp cheddar.  She always topped her macaroni and cheese with crushed saltines sauteed briefly in butter (a much-coveted treat for us children) and then topped the whole with paprika before heating it through in the oven.  It was delicious.  We often had grilled hot dogs alongside the macaroni and cheese and usually a green salad of some sort. 

My mother always made an extra casserole dish full of macaroni and cheese, and took it to a neighbor couple we dearly loved, for their Christmas Eve supper.  On New Year's Day, Mrs. F always made a gelatin dessert called pumpkin snow, and sent it back to us in the clean casserole dish, along with a jar of custard sauce to serve with the dessert.  It was a sweet tradition between neighbors.

Recently, I tried this recipe for Saturday night supper with baked beans and salad: Ham and Broccoli Mac'n'Cheese.  It was very good; the only thing I changed (other than to use, in my case, gluten-free pasta and flour) was to add a little salt.  There were some lively flavors in the sauce, but the flavor seemed to fall a little flat so I added a bit of salt and that solved the problem. 

It occurred to me as I prepared the dish that it might be a very nice one for Christmas Eve, as it includes the lively colors of red (sweet peppers) and green (broccoli florets).  If your family prefers a meatless meal, the ham could easily be omitted. What are your family's Christmas Eve food traditions?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Inspiration for your handmade gifts

Graphic by Little Birdie Blessings
I don't know about you, but I simply love giving (as well as receiving) handmade gifts.  Two bloggers have inspired me even further to make handcrafted gifts for this coming Christmas -- and for as many birthdays as possible between now and then.

When I read Myra's post, The Legacy of Handmade, my heart was touched, because her words about handmade gifts she had received just summed up how I feel about handmade gifts for family, especially grandchildren.  Sure, not everything I make for them is heirloom quality -- felt food is a case in point -- but some of the things I've made, like the birthday banners, are already heirlooms. 
And sometimes I want to make things, like the felt food and superhero capes, that they can just plain have fun with!  I just want them all to know they have a Grammy who loves them enough to make them special things with her own hands.  (And I do recognize that not all grandmothers can do that.  There are many other special ways to show love to grandchildren -- probably as many ways as there are grandmothers.  This just happens to be something I can do and that I love doing.)

Abby's post, A Handmade Christmas, was even more of a blessing because Abby shares a list of wonderful, "think-outside-the box" ideas for handmade gifts. 

Abby's post reminded me of a neighbor lady when I was growing up.  She made many small, handmade gifts with an old treadle sewing machine -- little felt stockings with a child's name on them, into which she tucked a dollar bill; little sachets made from interesting fabric scraps and filled with balsam needles to give off a lovely fragrance of the forest; and many more things.  I had a great-aunt who pieced pot holders from scraps of flannel in crazy-quilt fashion.  Sets of her flannel pot holders were a hoped-for gift on many occasions.  My grandmother made many doll blankets and baby blankets for gifts.  Making handmade gifts is a dear old tradition I will continue for as long as I possibly can!