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Old 09-11-2007, 09:54 AM   #1
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Holiday planning

I know it is only September, but what parties and meals are you planning for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannuka, etc? I'm already thinking in terms of Thanksgiving and my annual Tree trimming party (first Sunday in December). Then I give it a break and let my friends feed me! I usually make a traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, and then make a big stew or thick soup of some kind for the Christmas party. What are you planning?

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Old 09-13-2007, 10:41 AM   #2
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Dh and I would love to just go to a restaurant on Thanksgiving, but our son feels strongly about staying home. When it is such a small group, it really only makes sense to cook one variety of each dish, and it usually comes down to Caesar salad, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, waldorf salad, rolls from the bakery and pumpkin pie.

We don't have a traditional Christmas meal. We just decide each year what to have. We've had ham, prime rib, Chinese food and fried chicken in years past. On Christmas Eve, we usually make a meal of appetizers. Sometimes we have company for Christmas. Never for Thanksgiving, though. I host a cookie exchange every year in early December. The menu never changes- baked potato bar, I provide the potatoes and each guest brings a favorite topping, chili and cornbread and a big green salad. Easy but hearty and good. Also a perfect meal to be finished off with Christmas cookies!
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Old 09-13-2007, 01:15 PM   #3
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Made me think!

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I know it is only September, but what parties and meals are you planning for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannuka, etc? I'm already thinking in terms of Thanksgiving and my annual Tree trimming party (first Sunday in December). Then I give it a break and let my friends feed me! I usually make a traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, and then make a big stew or thick soup of some kind for the Christmas party. What are you planning?
Yes, The season is upon us - not too soon to look ahead. I'm only a novice hobby cook who likes to look to the cusines of others for inspiration. I'm thinking, a mixture?. Something from Greece, Italy, Ukraine, and some where else? Anyone have a suggestion? For real now. Thanks
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Old 09-21-2007, 12:37 PM   #4
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David, do you prefer baking or cooking meals? I'm very much the latter, but if you like sweets and/or breads, it is a good place to start, and make wonderful gifts. You mentioned Ukraine, and you're from a part of the country where there are many people of Eastern European origins. If you were to learn to make a good Potica, you'd have our hearts forever! But that is very advanced.

A really basic meal? Take a bird (anything from a cornish game hen for two to a turkey for a dozen) and stuff with a lemon or two (a game hen will take one half of a lemon, larger birds an entire lemon, pierced). If you can get fresh herbs at your grocer, throw in a branch of thyme and one of sage. If not, sprinkle the dried herbs in the cavity. Rub the skin with oil or butter, then bake according to any cookbook's timing.

This bird will fly in a number of meals. Mashed or baked potatoes, etc, for an all-American meal. Couscous (I like Near East brand, where you just pour boiling water or stock over the pasta, then fluff and add raisins and nuts to make a yummy starch for the meal). Rice pilaf. The lemon permeates the flavor of the meat, yet you can make it almost any ethnic cuisine you choose.
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Old 09-21-2007, 02:05 PM   #5
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Smile Potica? Yes indeed, challenge me

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David, do you prefer baking or cooking meals? I'm very much the latter, but if you like sweets and/or breads, it is a good place to start, and make wonderful gifts. You mentioned Ukraine, and you're from a part of the country where there are many people of Eastern European origins. If you were to learn to make a good Potica, you'd have our hearts forever! But that is very advanced.
My, my, Potica - Yes! Challenge me! I just googled the images and took a quick look at a recipe. One must mustn't one? Do you have a favotite potica recipe - authentic now! I will guarantee to report back when I have a success. With something like this three trys is generally minimum. As to cooking - I don't have enough depth to be choosey as to type. I would lean more to cooking dishes for the main part of the meal.

Let me know if you would care to post that special recipe here or just to attach it to me david.cottrell1@verizon.net. You are welcome to visit Books by Volunteers who serve Ukraine Orphans if I haven't invited you. Thanks a bunch.

Did you see the Menu for a Ukrainian Christmas Eve Holy Supper - I posted it in the borsch(t) or the beet soup thread - that was a trip I'll tell you. Wonderful experience.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:26 AM   #6
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I've tried to make potica exactly ONCE. I used a combination of recipes from Jeff Smith (our immigrant ancestors, I think the title is) and a cookbook called something like "all along the Danube" (my cookbooks are upstairs). As long as the recipe calls for a yeast dough, it is authentic enough (I lost my mother-in-law's recipe many moons ago). Filling can be walnuts or poppy seed (both with butter and brown sugar). Don't use the poppy seed if you're in a profession that requires drug testing (yes, you can come up with a false positive. Yes, in the long run it will show that you ate poppy seeds, but who needs the grief in between?). The difficult part is NOT the recipe, it is the technique. You put a sheet on your biggest table, and you stretch the dough until it is transparently thin. THAT is the hard part. Then you spread the filling over the dough. Getting it even is very difficult as well. Then you roll it. The time I tried it, it tasted fine, but instead of a nice, tight roll like my MIL's, it was lumpy and uneven. Now I buy mine from Vermont Country Store, or have friends in parts of the Midwest where it is popular send it to me. I'm a baking wimp!
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:28 AM   #7
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When I go upstairs later today, I'll post a recipe.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:39 AM   #8
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Too funny. I've already started to worry about Thanksgiving dinner! I have my 3 brothers and their families over, meaning 22 people trying to find a place to sit in a very small house. Combine that with our 2 tiny dogs running around like crazy things and my 3 brothers insisting on getting into the kitchen to 'sample' and 'make sure things taste good - it's their duty, you know', and it's a mad house. I do all the cooking and they do all the eating!

But, we always have a great time, just being together. So, this year, my resolution is not to obsess about everything being perfect, because the food isn't really what it's all about!

Wish me luck on that...!

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Old 09-22-2007, 08:44 AM   #9
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I am starting to think of holiday dinners, ours are usually the same menu each year. (Tradition is the name of the game at my house). Tried something different one year ----- just wasn't Christmas - strange !
I will be making a turkey breast, ham, candied yams, corn, cranberries, dressing, mashed potatoes /gravy and hot rolls. Dessert, pumpkin and pecan pie. (There are only seven of us)
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Old 09-22-2007, 10:30 AM   #10
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What a Challenge!

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When I go upstairs later today, I'll post a recipe.
Be glad to use it - I guess I have committed to this in my mind. Yes, I remember reading about philo being made this way - a bunch of ladies around the large table gently pulling the dough out to transparency. Hope this doesn't have to go that far - the images I looked at don't look like the dough was stretched that far. Am I wrong? Looks like a minimum three try effort.

Never fear, a lovely lady from Ukraine shared with me an awsome torte recipe that I have to psych myself up for about a week to do, and I've made it six or eight times. Not to a beautiful standard I'm sure, but everyone really likes this unusual treat. I wasn't surprised when Olga told me she taught art in the first Montesori school in Ukraine before coming here. Be glad to share her recipe. It's kinda long to post the way I have it but would be glad to attach to an email. To meet her beautiful work go to htt://eggs-files.tripod.com.
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Old 09-22-2007, 11:19 AM   #11
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Since wife and I are childless by choice and have no nearby family, our
Thanksgiving tradition is generally a small semi-traditional meal.

Christmas, however, is a Chinese buffet! LOL

So no hair pulling relative slapping planning for me! :) (ark ark humor)
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Old 09-22-2007, 01:41 PM   #12
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Yummy! Let's get those pumpkin recipes going Claire.

I'm doing a pre-Thanksgiving meal for my family the weekend before since we'll be out of town visiting in-laws. In-laws usually do all the Salvadorian cooking and we just get to enjoy.

This year I'm deep frying my turkey, making a homemade cornbread dressing with nuts and dried fruits and lots of harvest veggies and of course our favorite buttermilk custard pies and pumpkin pies and breads.
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Old 10-09-2007, 04:31 AM   #13
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Grilling, we are childless-by-choice as well, but never have an empty table for holidays. I do the traditional Thanksgiving that Mom did, and we invite any strays who happen to be around. We have an extended "family" here, which includes widows, gay couples, and empty nesters. When I lived near my family, I was very frustrated in that Christmas dinner had to be exactly the same as Thanksgiving dinner, and included a lot of foods I don't like (and trust me, there is little I do not like in the way of food) ... that is to say candied sweet potatoes (I don't guess I'll ever understand why you need to put sugar and marshmallows on already-sweet potatoes)(makes my cavities hurt just to think about it). Now I simply tell people what I am making and let them fill in the gaps. I make a turkey with a sage bread dressing. I make a cucumber and shrimp salad. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Then I let everyone else fill in. I do put someone in charge of pies, and have vanilla ice cream on hand.

I'm still not sure what I'll make for the tree-trimming party. Normally I do either Cincinatti or New Mexico Green Chili, but one year I made pea soup. Something hearty like that. Then everyone brings a dish to share. I tend to fall down in the sweets department, so when people aske what to bring, I ask for things like Christmas cookies and other sweets.
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Old 10-09-2007, 11:12 AM   #14
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I make a cucumber and shrimp salad.
Hi, Claire. I'd love to have your recipe for cucumber and shrimp salad TIA.
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:23 PM   #15
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POTICA!!!!!!!!!!! My mother made this all the time - two loaves every time! She never left me a recipe and it took me years of asking around to find one because it certainly isn't spelled the way it is pronounced and I had never seen the written word. Not until I started using a computer and doing an in depth search did I find it - and every single person that knew about it lived in the state I grew up in.

Holidays - mmmmm.......I know I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner.........there's a Christmas party the first Saturday in December.........that is all that is officially planned. We used to have a Christmas party every year until I realized it was waaaaaaaaay more fun to go to them than have them ........cheaper too!
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:32 PM   #16
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For financial reasons our traditions (one old and one just a few years old) may have to be put on hold, but here is what we normally do.

When I said one tradition is old, we have only been married 4 1/2 years, but the Thanksgiving meal is the same I have had since I was a little girl. I asked James if there was anything he wanted to add to it, to bring in his family's traditions, but evidently their traditions were similar so he didn't add to it. Even though it is just the two of us I cook the full Thanksgiving meal: Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes baked with a little butter and brown sugar, (sometimes) baby peas, jellied cranberry sauce, cranberry salad, Waldorf salad, fruit salad, yeast rolls, black and green olives, and pumpkin pie (sometimes another type of pie in addition to pumpkin). If we know someone who does not have plans, of course we would invite them to eat with us, but so far everyone has had their own plans.

Growing up we had Thanksgiving at our house and another turkey dinner at my aunt's and uncle's for Christmas. As I said, it is just the two of us (my side of the family is in California and James's side is in Iowa). The first Christmas after we were married (2003) I didn't feel well and was not in the mood to cook. It was evening by the time I felt well, and we were both hungry (we had nibbled but had not had a meal). We decided to get in the car and drive until we found a good place to eat. Of course everything in our tiny town was closed, so we headed to Charlotte. A lot is closed there on Christmas too, but we ended up at TGIFriday's. We decided to make a brand new Christmas tradition, so our Christmas tradition is to drive until we find "the" place. Next time we will probably drive toward Myrtle Beach, since there will probably be more places open on Christmas.

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Old 10-09-2007, 08:28 PM   #17
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POTICA!!!!!!!!!!! My mother made this all the time - two loaves every time! She never left me a recipe and it took me years of asking around to find one because it certainly isn't spelled the way it is pronounced and I had never seen the written word. Not until I started using a computer and doing an in depth search did I find it - and every single person that knew about it lived in the state I grew up in.
Oh, elf! Ain't potica sooooo delicious? It's been made in my family for more generations than I can count and I've posted it here on DC. I can't wait to make it.
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Old 10-09-2007, 10:08 PM   #18
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I know Katie!!!!!!!!!! I remember that filling so well!!!!!!!!! I remember sitting at the table just staring at it until she would cut it - that sweet, nutty filling - YUM! I've got your recipe neatly filed away!
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:30 AM   #19
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We'll be visiting the Outer Banks of NC this year for thanksgiving so don't know where or what we'll be eating. Not all of the family can make the trip so we'll have a family meal at my sister's on Sunday after. That will be traditional turkey, stuffing, sweet potates, greenbean casserole, pies, cheese ball. Then it is my turn to host Christmas this year. That is also traditional but it is our family tradition not society's! We have home made pizza! I'll be making the dough and the sauce from scratch using Mom's recipe and then adding toppings as per family choice to make at least 4 jelly roll pan sized pizzas. The beauty is they can be made ahead of time and then on christmas day just pop them in the oven. Of course the rest of the family all brings their cookies, candies, donuts and holiday snacks. They sit out on the table and we nibble all day! Very laid back. No one is in the kitchen all day cooking and cleaning. Great easy get together food!
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Old 10-10-2007, 02:20 PM   #20
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Before James and I were married I spent a couple Thanksgivings with a good friend of mine, and her husband and grown sons. She is Italian. Neither she or her husband liked turkey and they always had rigatoni and meatballs for Thanksgiving. She said her sons used to beg the neighbors for leftover turkey the day after Thanksgiving!

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