Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Food

        Last evening my friend Mike dropped in for a visit. Mike lost his wife in May and we got talking about the food they prepared for Christmas. He mentioned how they worked together to make lifte. I had never heard of lifte and was too embarrassed to ask him what it was. I went to wikipedia this morning to check. So lifte is a Norwegian flat bread. There are several different recipes for it and it is made by several ethnic groups. The preparation and baking of this food is some what involved. Eileen prepared the batter and did the rolling and Mike did the cooking. A special flat type of skillet is used for the cooking. In the old days of wood cook stoves the batter was cooked directly on the stove surface. I have never eaten lifte, but now I'm looking forward to trying some.

      When I went to highschool 75% of my classmates were Mennonite. Mennonites make something which is special called pfeffernusse which were roughly called pepper nuts in English. . It's a small ball shaped cookie which has ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and pepper.  All the kids would bring pepper nuts to school and trade them. Each of their mothers had a little different recipe so that was the reason for exchanging. They were very kind and supplied me with these treats. I've never forgotten how they shared this special Christmas treat with me.

     One seventh grade boy I taught raved about "holy bolley" . I'm not sure how it's spelled and he didn't know either. I also tried to search on the net for this so obviously my spelling isn't even close. He described the goody which he made with his grandpa. I'm sure that for this boy the enjoyment was from working with grandpa to make the special Christmas goody that they shared with family and friends. 

     A grade seven girl I taught was a very able baker. At Christmas time she would have a little bag of baked goods that she would give to each of her teachers. I will never forget the look in her eyes as she would give these bags of Christmas baking to her teachers. She truly experienced the wonderful feeling of giving. For the next two years I was remembered at Christmas with wonderful treats this girl baked and gave to us.

     Now I know that there must be thousands of Christmas cook books. Ethnic communities that celebrate Christmas have their special recipes. Any Granny who celebrates Christmas probably has a thousand good recipes in her head. One of the ways we celebrate Christmas is through food we share with one another.

    Now if my daughter was in on this topic she would go into great historical detail as to the origins of each food and the symbolic meaning. There's so much more than just the eating of good food.

    I hope you are able to enjoy the good Christmas food and also partake in the meaning of sharing these seasonal  foods.


  1. My grandmother made "twists," otherwise known as cruellers; dough rolled flat, cut out in long rectangles, split down the middle, twisted together, fried and then had powdered sugar. Aways one of my favorites.

  2. Thanks for sharing one of your favorites. I think you probably watched her make these and one of the reasons they are special. Other than that I'd go a long way to get a of my favorites. Now I'm going to do a piece on Blue Christmas. Have a nice day.

  3. Well, as your daughter, you give me far too much credit for knowing things about food! I don't really. Unless you want to count things like turkey was introduced to Europeans (along with corn and potatoes) and somewhat replaced goose as a traditional Christmas meal.
    However, on the subject of remembering holiday foods, I certainly can share there. I loved Mum's peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate (pure decadence!) along with the melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. She'd bake a lot when we were kids. And then store/freeze bucketloads - literally - that we'd be eating until Easter. I also recall one year, the year of the infamous toffee/caramel disaster. Tasted great, but pretty much broke your teeth! Took a long time to eat that up, and I think she'd made a pie plate worth, maybe two! :)
    I'm not much for baking, and never really was, but I do like the holiday treats, fixings, nibblies, special beverages etc. and of course, the roast beast and dinner.
    Oh yes, and I also always liked the Mandarin oranges that came out for this time of year. Here in Illinois, it's much harder to come by them; most similar here and readily available are clementines. What the heck is the difference?!

  4. Thanks for dropping in at Hiawatha House. Yes, Mom did like to bake everything good for Christmas. Then it became too much of a job and she quit. Bad thing is that she still feels quilty about it. I don't miss all the goodies even though I still like them. I'd forgotten about the candy disaster.