At the first hint of chill in the air, my thoughts turn to Christmas. My mind and heart begin to fill with visions of sugar plums indeed. My weekly menu turns decidedly toward comfort food and I begin rummaging in my brain for homemade Christmas gift ideas for my loved ones. I begin hauling out first the autumn decorations and later the Christmas, decking my halls and every other available surface. I take delight in the season, the magic, wonder and glory of it all. This blog was born from that delight. Here you will find dinner ideas, crafts, decor, stories, memories, and music. Some ideas will be entirely mine, but I will also include anything cute I come across that I think you might like to see, credit given to the creator or source. Please leave me your ideas in the comments and any other feedback you'd like to give.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I grew up in a family that loves traditions, especially at Christmas time. For example, we did NOT listen to Christmas music until midnight Thanksgiving night. But at the stroke of midnight, we loaded up the old record player with a pile of our holiday favorites and then spent most of the rest of the night playing games with Christmas music in the background. To this day it feels like heresy if I sneak a listen before then. (Luckily this blog gives me an excuse!) And, along those same lines, I have a really hard time accepting versions of Christmas songs sung by contemporary artists (read Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston). If it's not Bing Crosby it's just not the real thing. Another long-standing tradition is breakfast on Christmas morning. My Mom has always made her perfect pancakes on this magical morn. She has a huge cast iron griddle that she heats on the stove and then stands red-cheeked over it as she pours and flips her way to a giant pile of warm, fragrant pancakes. Of course, she's also cooking sausage and bacon and maybe even eggs at the same time, the aroma sizzling and warm and steamy on a frosty winter morning. When I was a child, we had to wait for Dad to do the chores and breakfast to be eaten before we could open any gifts or even see what Santa had brought. So unlike other children that popped out of bed before dawn on Christmas morning, we slept as long as we possibly could. (Thoughtful, I know. Sleeping as Mom cooked and Dad did the chores!) I can remember the hot griddle setting off the smoke alarm, serving as our wake up call. I remember my eyes popping open at the sound and the memory of the occasion setting in. What excitement and anticipation followed as I would leap out of my bed into the frigid upstairs air. Cold air upstairs made for a rapid descent down the stairs to the warm kitchen where all the delicious aromas were mingling and teasing. There's nothing like a jolly Christmas morning- and gifts waiting to be opened- to get kids in the mood to help things along. But despite our best efforts it always seemed like it took Dad forever in the barn and we would have to wait for him. I don't remember ever considering going out to the barn to help. Too bad I didn't read Christmas Day In The Morning sooner! Finally he would come and we would sit down to the tantalizing breakfast Mom had prepared. Now I make Mom's pancakes on Christmas morning, and just like when I was a kid, it doesn't matter what else is served. Pancakes are the main attraction. Perfect, soft, golden brown pancakes hot off the griddle, swimming in Mom's homemade pure maple syrup.
Mom's Perfect Pancakes
2 C flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 T sugar
1 tsp melted shortening or oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C milk (or add to desired consistency. This is where the artistry comes in. In order to have them turn out like Mom's you have to add nearly 2xs that amount of milk. But you have to eye it, get it just runny enough without being too runny. It may take some practice.)
RECIPE NOTE: These should be eaten with REAL maple syrup. Don't even get me started on those plasticky imitations. Oh- and if it didn't come from a maple tree in the form of sap originally, it is NOT real maple syrup.