Christmas Traditions Every family has their own unique Christmas and holiday traditions – and what we bake at this time of year is an important part of that tradition. As I rolled coconut strawberries the other night I thought about my mother making them every year when I was growing up. Along with other holiday baking she put them away in tins in the cold cellar – and her children would sneak down and snitch them on the sly during the days before Christmas. I have just put 50 into my freezer and with no children in the house they should be safe. Last Christmas friends dropped by for tea, and one exclaimed, “where did you get these!” when she saw coconut strawberries on the plate of cookies. Her mother also had made them when she was a child – I was happy to share the recipe. Like a lot of 50‘s recipes I suspect this one came from the Eagle Brand milk that is the necessary ingredient to get just the right flavour and texture. This is such a politically incorrect recipe with red food colouring and more calories than you even want to think about, but it is Christmas time, and you can go on the South Beach diet for the months of January and February.
My mother also made fruit cake, with recipes for both dark and light fruitcake that were baked by her mother before her – I use the same ones. No one in my family loves fruitcake as much as I do – my late father-in-law was the exception. With no one to help me eat it there have been a few years without fruitcake in our house. This year my husband suggested I make some – which I have happily done. Perhaps the grandchildren will like fruitcake if they get started young enough. I think of my mother, and my grandmother as I bake these cakes – that is tradition.
Then there are the Russian teacakes, made a friend every Christmas when our children were all small. Those days are gone but I still make Russian teacakes every year, they are everyone’s true favourites.
This year I am adding a few new sweet treats to our usual lot. There is a gorgeous new cookbook, Christmas cooking with kids by Annie Rigg. It certainly has recipes that could be prepared by children but I am going to use it myself – well before Christmas I had already made the buttermilk pancakes and the cranberry streusel muffins – both excellent, and will be recipes I will use year round. To my Christmas baking I am going to add almond crescents and biscotti with pistachios and cranberries, and apple and cranberry pies will take the place of mince tarts this year. There is a gingerbread house recipe that even I could make. I just can’t wait to get home at the end of the day and bake from this book! This is a book you can use year round, but it would be especially fun to use with children when preparing for the holidays.
So, eat drink and be merry this Christmas as you enjoy the baking and cooking that is part of your own family tradition!