Monday, January 4, 2021

Honoring Family Traditions In A Pandemic


I am not a chef. I do not enjoy cooking at all. I make simple things to feed my family, mostly vegan or slow cooker meals because they're easy. However, since the holidays have looked so different this year, I found it important to keep family traditions. That's pretty hard to do when large gatherings aren't part of the picture, but one way we knew we could was with food.

My families have traditions: Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family, Christmas Day at home, Christmas with my dad's side of the family a few days after Christmas, and Christmas with my husband's side of the family whenever most of us can get together. All of that is accompanied by laughter and food. For example, Christmas Eve is Mexican food, Christmas Day is a big breakfast, charcuterie board midday, and a large dinner, prime rib, potatoes, a vegetable, and rolls at my grandparent's house, and soups at my in-laws. 

I haven't spent time with my grandparents in a year now and I'm especially missing them (along with all of my extended family). As a result, we cooked MANY of their recipes and foods we would usually eat with them. In an odd way, it made the holidays a little bit brighter than our Zoom calls lighting. We may not have been able to gather in person, but we sure ate like we would have!

While I hope to NOT have to cook holiday meals in 2021 (I'll happily go back to my "I'll pick up a side dish from somewhere and bring a bottle of somthing" status), I think we did a pretty good job honoring our family's traditions.

Our menus included:

  • Christmas Eve - Tamales (from La Tapatia), rice sopa, pork and chili
  • Christmas Day - Cinnamon roll casserole, meats and cheeses from around the world (from Trader Joe's; they have one of my favorite meat and cheese sections). Hubs isn't a huge prime rib fan and I don't eat a lot of meat, so we did ham, potatoes (my grandma's recipe is similar to this), a salad, and bread pudding with a bourbon sauce for dessert
  • Day after Christmas - Chicken noodle soup, rolls, and homemade hot chocolate
I've spent soooo much time in this little kitchen of mine. I'm in love with my new oven, that cooks quickly and efficiently.

There's been MUCH more baking than what I'm used to. I randomly whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies one morning, while thinking to myself, "who am I??!!?"

When I was young, we spent New Year's Day at my grandparent's house celebrating with family. I remember it fondly. We attempted to re-create some of my grandma's dishes and had a good ole fashioned New Year's Day of board games, movies (End Game re-watch), puzzles, football, and food. We kept it simple with my grandma's appetizers I grew up with: meatballs covered with sauce and cheese, deli sandwiches (typically served on my grandma's homemade rolls, but our's were most definitely store bought), a veggie tray, and chocolate fondue. We decided to attempt homemade cheesesticks as well, after the oldest mini came across a recipe on NYE.

We began 2021 with homemade berry french toast from the middle mini. It was delicious!

Our oven has an air fryer option. These cheese sticks turned out wonderful! 

My grandma's fondue: chocolate chips, chunky peanut butter (I made one with and one without peanut butter since the oldest is allergic), milk, and sugar.

Thank goodness for leftover chopsticks from a recent thai food order!

And now, back to my vegetarian lifestyle because my stomach can't take anymore rich food! At least for a while!