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Christmas meals

Dec. 15, 2011

By Ginger Isham

 

On Dec. 24, 1877 a farm wife wrote: “I am baking today for Christmas  — I am going to have chicken and oysters, mince pie and custard pie, frosted cake and pickles, stockings all filled and I am going to bed.”

How different our meals were 100 years later. Years ago, I sang for 12 years in the church choir and at the Christmas Eve candlelight service — where all the choirs sang “O Holy Night.” It was very emotional. When I arrived home I thought of the smell of our cows in a warm barn and this made me think of the manger in Bethlehem. Our meal before the service had to be easy and simple. It was fish chowder, jell-o fruit salad and bar cookies.

 

FISH CHOWDER

2 or 3 slices bacon

2 chopped onions

2 or 3 peeled and cut-up potatoes

1 cup evaporated milk

2 cups hot milk

1 1/2 pounds of haddock

a pinch of salt, pepper and parsley.

Cook the bacon in a kettle. Remove and save for garnish. Add onions and potatoes to bacon fat and enough hot water to cover them. Put lid on kettle and cook veggies until soft. Cut fish into chunks and put on top of veggies, cover and cook a few minutes more until fish is tender. Add evaporated milk, hot milk, parsley and salt, pepper to taste. Serve with crackers or hot biscuits.

 

MINCEMEAT BARS (RECIPE FROM UVM EXTENSION)

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup mincemeat (I made mine out of green tomatoes with no suet)

1/2 cup crushed pineapple undrained (or unsweetened applesauce)

2 beaten eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

dash of salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Cream sugar, eggs and shortening. Stir in mincemeat and pineapple. Blend dry ingredients and mix in until smooth. Spread batter into a 9-by-13-inch greased baking dish. Bake on 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. When cool, frost with confectioners sugar icing flavored with vanilla or lemon. May bake in jellyroll pan for 15 minutes.

 

APPLESAUCE BARS

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg; 2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg

pinch of salt

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped nuts, optional.

Cream sugar, butter and add egg. Mix dry ingredients and add alternately with applesauce. Mix well and stir in raisins and nuts. Bake for about 25 minutes in greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish at 375 degrees. Can also frost with confectioners sugar icing or dust with sugar. I like a penuche or maple icing for this recipe. Also can bake in jellyroll pan for fewer minutes.

 

Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.