Friday, December 30, 2011


So did you get your fill of turkey and dressing and figgy pudding or cabbage rolls and kiff les (keef-lee, a Hungarian pastry)? Growing up in my house I had the great advantage of consuming the best foods from two different ethnic backgrounds…Hungarian and English.
I was so lucky to have grown up in a house with a Mom who was such a fabulous cook. My Grandma Vedress was an excellent cook, too, and she passed down her amazing cooking/baking abilities to her daughters which included her youngest daughter, my Mom Rose.
After Mom married my Dad she had to learn how to prepare the traditional English dishes that he had grown up with, too. Don’t get me wrong, Dad loved Mom’s Hungarian cooking as much as his own traditional foods but he just couldn’t give up all of the great food that his Mother had been making for him and his brothers and sisters all of his life. It wasn’t long before Mom had mastered the food and baking dishes that Dad had loved growing up. My Grandma Hubbard’s Christmas pudding and sugar sauce recipe is still the one that Mom uses every year at this time.
My Mom had always been a little intimidated with her Mother-in-law’s pie making abilities and she thought that her raisin and mince meat pies couldn’t compare to Grandma Hubbard’s but I don’t buy that. As I recall, my Mom’s pies were excellent! Still are! Certainly she had grown up making kalach and kiff les and poppy-seed rolls, which were excellent, too, of course, but her pies were pretty damn good, too.
Now the dishes that I grew up with are being passed down from my Grandmothers’ generation to my Mom’s generation to my generation and now to my children’s generation. My wife Debbie’s heritage is English and she’s an excellent cook and I enjoy cooking so we’ve shared the meal preparation duties along with sharing many of the recipes we had grown up preparing and eating. Deb can make as good a cabbage roll as I can but she’s a much better baker than me so she does the baking and I make the cabbage rolls. Go with your strengths, I always say.
Of course there are so many outside influences on what we can prepare and eat today and with so many recipes just a mouse-click away on the internet the world’s food tastes are at our doorstep. Well, our computer screen any way. Italian, Indian, Mexican, Asian….the list goes on. But on those very special occasions, like Christmas, many of us want, or need, to go back to the comfort foods that we grew up with. Sure, I love pizza, or Moo Goo Gai Pan, but not for Christmas dinner, thank you very much. But after two or three days of Christmas left-overs…now that’s a different story.
Whatever your tastes, I hope that all of you had a great time feasting through the holidays on the traditional recipes of your choice.
“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”-Sheila Graham(1904-1

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