FEAST! IMBIBE! INDULGE!
I mean, Happy Holidays.
Time to stuff your pie holes and chuck up that extra 5lbs to traditions and making Mom and Grandma feel good about their blood, sweat and tears in the kitchen. Lets be honest, most of us will say “Bon Voyage” to the gym until January, when the resolutions and guilt set in, but until then, it’s GAME ON for gluttony and a Cheers! to all my fellow alcoholics!
Last night, in my 4am sleeplessness that seems to be my life lately, I was going through my grocery list for the week and I started to realize that there was a fair share of constants in the food and beverage department that I am bound to consume over the next couple of months. Then I decided I should share it, because the Omelettes love their grub and booze, duh.
So, in no particular order…
1. Oyster Stew
We usually make this beauty on Christmas eve – although my father and myself have typically been the only ones to eat the oysters. Everyone just wants to eat the milky and buttery broth with those delightful ranch/dill oyster crackers. If a warm belly is what you seek, I highly recommend this one. Grandma’s recipe is pretty basic – oysters, milk and butter. I tend to add some cayenne pepper and additional seasons to kick it up a notch.
2. Egg Nog Mixers
I don’t know about you, but I can’t drink egg nog straight – the sheer thickness of it grosses me out. However, my mother introduced us to a little trick – adding ginger ale. Holy moly it’s so good – it’s an awesome flavor with a little fizz. I love fizz. You can add a splash of orange juice for a nice extra twist. And of course, as you get older…rum. Rum is good. (Just don’t freak out when the ginger ale causes the egg nog to separate and congeal after a bit. It’s not a drink you want to let get to room temperature, so drink up!)
3. Harvest Loaf
You might as well dive into dessert in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. This is a Thill/Hobbs family standard. The harvest loaf takes the best of pumpkin pie spices and puts it into a loaf of bread that is filled with chocolate chips, walnuts and covered in frosting. It’s delicious and acts as a nice sweet compliment to all of the savory dishes on the turkey table.
4. “Heather’s Mash Taters”
I’m not sure how it happened, but Mom gave me the mashed potatoes duty one year, and I got creative, and that was that. Ever since, my “Mash Taters” (as the baby sister, Mary Rose, so well coined) have been a requirement. Until the end of time, I will have to make the mashed potatoes for all holiday affairs. Clumpy red potatoes, boiled with onion and vegetable stock, strained and mashed with sour cream, butter, sharp cheddar, S+P and chives…and my secret ingredient, which would probably freak out the masses. Secret.
5. Pecan Tassies
I cannot take the credit for these babies – pecan tassies are a difficult and time consuming craft that has been perfected by my middle sister, Jennalyn, as it was passed down from our great grandmother. Bite-sized pecan pies without too much of that strange jelly/custard stuff – think more crunch and brown sugar. Don’t mind if I do! Thanks for working on these for 4 hours so we can eat them all in 30 minutes.
6. Pickled Herring
Typically a Thill-male tradition, but I have since jumped on board. While the cooking is happening, you can bet that the boys and a select few women are opening up the jar to eat some pickled herring on saltine crackers…with a scotch on the side. De-lish.
7. Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider
I know, I know…it’s nothing more than inexpensive sparkling juice. BUT, when you’re a kiddo and everyone else around you is drinking wine and champagne from a nice goblet, you kinda wanna get in on that action. Mom always made sure us girls had our “special beverage” – now it just doesnt’ seem right without it.
8. Green Bean Casserole
Now, all this time I just ASSUMED everyone had green bean casserole on the table, for at least one of the holidays, but lo and behold, I am wrong. Are you sure you’re American? It’s probably the least expensive and easiest thing on the menu to make – if you haven’t made it before – give it a go. What do you have to lose? $5bucks and 5 minutes?
I like to consider this Grandma’s little alcohol secret. This delightful combo of ice cream, creme de menthe and creme de cacao was the perfect way to subtlely drug the kiddos into a nice nap. Surely it wasn’t enough alcohol to make us drunk, so the parents would always allow it. For some reason, mint flavors in dessert mean that it’s not as bad for you, in fact it’s a refreshing little end to a nice long day of eating your face off. Another dessert, while not feeling guilty about it!? Good job, Grandma.
10. Oyster Stuffing
I used to hate stuffing, then I started to like it a bit more as I got older…and then I tried the oyster stuffing once I realized I liked to eat those slimy little buggers with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon and pepper. Talk about taking it to a whole new level. Even better if you manage to cook it inside the bird…
Did I mention I like oysters?