By KARA JEFFERS
Pick a holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving, and it’s a safe bet you can associate it with a special dish or foodstuff your family makes for the occasion – especially if those meals are unusual.
Silex high school teacher Jill Kinion doesn’t really know how her family decided on chop suey as their main Christmas dish. She does remember going to her family’s Christmas dinners as a kid, and thinking it wasn’t something she really wanted to eat. Now as an adult with kids of her own, she cooks the same chop suey for her Christmas dinners, wanting her kids to experience a family Christmas tradition like she did.
“Christmas memories can really be based on food, because that’s when families get together to eat, and that’s when memories are made.” says Kinion.
Wanda Goodin always dreamed of magical Christmases as a little girl, and those dreams always included gingerbread houses. So when Goodin grew up and had children of her own, she started the tradition of building a custom Christmas cookie house when her firstborn son was just 3 months old.
As years passed, Goodin practiced her cookie houses, making each one more elaborate than the next – even building a two-story house one year. Her mission of making a magical Christmas clearly succeeded, as her daughter Sasha Gardner still recalls fond childhood memories about Goodin’s crumbly creation.
“As a kid, watching my mom make the house, I was just salivating, wanting to eat the cookies but not being able to because they were going on the house,” Gardner said.
This Christmas will be extra special, as different family members who haven’t seen the Christmas cookie houses in person yet will be there, including Sasha’s kids, and Wanda’s mother and sister. Goodin hopes that the next family generation will pick up the cookie house hobby, as well as inspire others to start similar traditions in their families.
“It’s really not a hard craft,” Goodin said. “You don’t have to bake anything, and it’s easy to decorate and make.” When Christmas rolls around for Troy resident Jane Kelley, it brings fond memories of her mother’s legacy. She describes her mom as a “Super Woman”, with incredible compassion and kindness as she spent her time homemaking and helping drive people around town who couldn’t drive themselves. This included picking different folks up on the way to Sunday services, one of which included a Mrs. Harrenstein who would give a tray of hot rolls in gratitude, the recipe for which Kelley saved. The holidays tend to remind us to ponder on the blessings life brings, even blessings as simple as homemade bread made in gratitude to a personal hero.
Christmas Chop Suey
• 1 large onion
• 2-3 stalks of celery
• 1 green pepper
• ½ lb fresh mushrooms
• 1-5 oz can water chestnuts
• 1 can bean sprouts
• ½ lb lean pork or beef
• 2 tablespoon oil
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• ½ cup meat broth
• 2 tablespoon soy sauce
Cut onion, celery and green pepper in thick slices or chunks. Combine these in one bowl. Cut up mushrooms and water chestnuts coarsely. Drain bean sprouts. Combine these in another bowl. Cut pork or beef in thin strips. Heat oil in skillet, add meat and brown quickly, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with salt while cooking, when meat is cooked, add onion, celery and green peppers and cook two-three minutes, stirring. Vegetables should be tender crisp, not soft. Mix cornstarch with broth and soy sauce, add to skillet and cook until liquid is slightly thickened and vegetables look glossy.
Mrs. Harenstein’s Rolls
• 3 ½ cups white flour
• 1 package dry yeast dissolved in ¼ teaspoon warm water
• 2 tablespoon sugar
• 2 tablespoon lard
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup sweet milk scalded
• 1 egg beaten
Soak yeast in warm water, scald and cool milk. Add the sugar, salt, yeast and lard. Add some flour and beat, then add the rest of the flour. Set aside to raise double in bulk, then put dough on board and knead about 50 strokes. Cut in half and make out into 12-14 buns.
Place on greased cookie sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.