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I prepared and served my first complete holiday meal for Thanksgiving, 1961 when I was a mere 19 years old. I had the help of a couple of my younger sisters but, for the most part, I could take credit, or blame, for most of it.
Fortunately, it turned out to be a delicious dinner. The only thing missing were our parents who had both passed away earlier that year. I was among those fortunate enough to have been taught the basics of cooking, baking and setting a pretty table, as my mother called it.
To this day, I love to use tablecloths and pretty dishes, glasses and flatware that match. These days, I compromise with Jim on covering our beautiful pine table by only putting tablecloths on it for holiday meals and using placemats the rest of the year, so that we may enjoy the rich wood finish.
During the time of my life when I had children at home or at least some nearby, the holiday meals were common at our house. I, like most mothers, believed that no one else could prepare the traditional dishes as well as I did. Therefore, I insisted on doing it all!
One year, due to illness, I was unable to carry on as usual. That was when I found out how good a teacher I had been to my then 18 and 19 year old daughters Susan and Selena, respectively.
We lived in a very rural area of eastern Oregon and discovered there were no restaurants open on Christmas Day anywhere within 130 miles which would have meant driving on snow and ice covered mountain roads.
Together they took over and, with only minimal instructions, prepared a traditional turkey dinner they served with pride. Everything was delicious and although everything may not have been done exactly as I would have done it; I knew they were both quite capable of carrying on many of our traditions and would do so when they married and had families of their own, which they both have done.
Today, I let my children, and even grandchildren, help to prepare the family holiday and special dinners. Not only does it provide a sense of pride and encouragement for them in their ability; it tells me that I have done my job as a mother and grandmother. I have taught them; now it is time to let them to carry on, as they say.
The following recipes were taken from the "Holiday Delights" cookbook which includes one for making Christmas ornaments, just for the kids.
Let the younger generation help; ask them to each prepare one of the dishes or desserts. You will be pleasantly surprised!
Christmas Fun for the Kids
2 cups flour
one-half teaspoon baking soda
one-half teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water
small paint brush
Preheat oven to 350 deg.Blend all ingredients until well mixed. You may have to add more flour if too wet or more water if too dry. Flour working area and roll dough out until one-fourth inch thick. Dip cookie cutter in the flour and cut out ornaments. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Use the end of the paint brush to punch a hole in the top to hang by. Decorate with paints, glitter and ribbon.
White Christmas Chiffon Pie
1 & one-half cup milk
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
one-fourth cup cold water
one-half cup heavy cream
3 large egg whites
1 & one-half cup shredded coconut
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
three-fourths teaspoon vanilla
one-half teaspoon almond extract
one-fourth teaspoon cream of tartar
2 baked pie shells
Soften gelatin in cold water. Mix together in a saucepan the milk, flour and sugar; cook to slightly thicken and dissolve the gelatin in that. Cool. Then whip the cream. Beat the egg whites until stiff and add the cream of tartar. To the gelatin mixture, fold in the whipped cream and the egg whites. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Then fold in the coconut. Spoon into the pie shells and chill in the refrigerator.
Holiday Party Dip
1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
1 tablespoon slice green onions
2 tablespoons beef flavored instant bouillon
one-half teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
one-fourth teaspoon garlic powder
fresh vegetables or potato chips
In medium bowl, combine all ingredients except fresh vegetables and potato chips. Mix well. Cover; chill. Stir before serving. Garnish with additional green onion, if desired. Serve with vegetables. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes about 2 & one-half cups.
Note: This would make a nice gift together with a pretty holiday bowl and a set of holiday spreaders.