Wednesday, December 13, 2006

From Sarah McKerrigan...

Turkey. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Cranberry sauce. Sweet potatoes. Green bean casserole. Rolls. Pumpkin pie.

Every year, growing up, it was the same menu for Christmas...with the notable addition of Grandma's Frozen Salad, which was neither frozen nor a salad, but a concoction of green Jell-O, cottage cheese, pineapple, mayonnaise, and walnuts that looked like...well, you don't want to know what it looked like, but it tasted divine. Really.

In my current family, we have conflicting opinions about holiday dinners. My son pretty much detests everything on the plate except mashed potatoes and rolls. My daughter would like to have East Indian food for every meal, the hotter the better. And my husband is so attached to the food he grew up on that I almost think he'd rather I bought a frozen pumpkin pie (like Mom used to make).

You can see my dilemma. That's why, when it's my turn to cook, I try to spice up the usual fare with a "theme."

Last year we had a Caribbean Christmas, with citrus-stuffed turkey, Jamaican yam casserole, coconut rice, cinnamon-clove-cranberry sauce, and pumpkin-coconut pie. The copious leftovers grew moldy in the fridge.

Once I tried an authentic Native American dinner, complete with wild turkey, cornbread, roast root vegetables, and golden custard. No wonder those Indians in the old frontier photos were so svelte.

My most successful theme is Southwest. Living in sunny L.A., I can barbecue the turkey outdoors with sprigs of sage from the garden. The stuffing is cornbread-based, and the potatoes are mashed with garlic and cumin. I serve up cranberry salsa, chili-glazed sweet potatoes, pine-nut-laced green beans, and pepper-studded cornbread. For dessert, we have ancho chile pumpkin pie. And of course, Grandma's Frozen Salad, which is only Southwest because it's MADE in the Southwest.

What about your holiday dinner? Do you have any interesting traditions? To-die-for recipes worth sharing? Restaurant recommendations?

I hope you serve up warmth and good will, no matter what's on the table, and may your holidays be filled with kindness, humor, and cherished memories.

Best wishes,

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007


Diane Perkins said...

My contribution is to make my husband's Grandmother's Italian green peas. Basically green peas and spaghetti sauce.
I small bag of green petite peas, one chopped onion, one can of tomatoe sauce.
In a saucepan brown a couple of cloves of garlic and the onion in olive oil until the garlic is light brown and the onions soft. Add the tomato sauce and the frozen peas. Cook on low for at least a half hour or longer. Yum.....

Lori Wilde said...

I cook lasagna for Christmas every year. Everyone looks forward to it because while it's my signature dish, because of the time and calories involved I only make it once a year.