Monday, January 12, 2009

Holiday Food Fun!

I set up shop in the kitchen at the beginning of the holidays every year. I usually make a few different kinds of cookies, as well as baking for gifts. This year I created State Fair Sampler Packs with 5 of the entries I plan to make for the fair this summer.

I also help with meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve I always make clam chowder and salmon dip, and I like to make some of my Grandma Findlay's specialties, namely her famous sauerkraut meatballs and cinnamon applesauce jello. This year on Christmas Day we had a Greek/Middle Eastern themed meal. I made tabbouleh and helped my mom make spinach pie.

My mom and I working in the kitchen. We had 2 Kitchen Aid stand mixers going at once. Thank goodness they have 2 convection ovens and a root cellar that stays very cool in the winter. We need all the space!

My dad, or the esteemed washer of the dishes, and I in the kitchen on Christmas Eve. I made the apron he's wearing. I embroidered his favorite kitchen saying on the front: "Cookbooks are for wimps."

I'm coating chocolate mint wafer cookies here. It's my new favorite holiday cookie to make. I got the recipe from Everyday Food magazine, the December 2007 issue.

I also tried some new cookies, Almond Sweets and Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies, that will be back next year. Cranberry Jumbles turned out well and tasted good, but didn't seem like a Christmas cookie. We'll save that one for the fall.

Mom's Julekage dough getting ready to rise. This is a Norweigian holiday bread made with candied fruit and cardamom. She led me through the process - I plan to make this for an ethnic bread category at the fair.

Here's a test run of one of my fair entries - Blueberry Almond bread. So far I'm getting good reviews, so this recipe is a keeper for the fair.

The 2009 State Fair Sampler Pack: Gingersnaps*, Oatmeal Cookies, Irresistible Brownies*, Blueberry Almond Bread, and Cinnamon Rolls*. (*recipes previously posted)

Making the famous sauerkraut meatballs.

The meatballs are shaped, then chilled overnight.

The next day, the meatballs are dipped in an egg and milk mixture, then rolled in bread crumbs before baking.

My mom and I constructing the spinach pie. The phyllo dough sheets are paper thin, so you must work with them quickly so they do not dry out and tear! This is a two person job. Mom brushed the butter on the sheets, and I laid them in the pan.

The filling for the spinach pie.

Laying down the other half of the phyllo sheets on top of the filling.

The last dish I prepare on Christmas Eve is the famous clam chowder. I learned how to make this in my 9th grade Family Enterprise class at SCC, courtesy again of Ms. Monson. The recipe was a secret passed to her from a former restaurant owner. She held onto it for 10 years, then shared it with us. I've made it every year since then, so it's been about 15 years!

Prep work - every cook's delight and joy.

Clams getting happy in the stock pot.

I have 3 pots going at once in this dish. Clams in one, milk in another, and vegetables in a third. The aptly named "Robo Stove" at Mom and Dad's house, powered by gas, has cut the prep time of this soup in half.

The clam chowder gets to hang out in the crock pot for the rest of the night.

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