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Dec 14, 2009 09:32 AM

Turkey-free Christmas

Christmas dinner for a guy I know is meat loaf, shaped like a Christmas tree with green and red bell pepper "ornaments." That's what his mom always made. At my grandma's, the meal was ravioli; I was in high school before I realized most people did Thanksgiving dinner all over again on Dec. 25. If you've got an offbeat family Christmas meal, particularly one rooted in Baltimore food tradition, I'd like to include it in a story I'm writing for The Baltimore Sun.

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  1. That's a creative meat loaf. I can't remember the last time I fed my friends turkey for Christmas. We do that at Thanksgiving and one is enough for a few months. Last few years, Safeway has had a pretty good sale on bone-in rib roast right befor Christmas so that's what I've been having. It's been warm enough so that I can cook it in the Weber kettle and give it a good dose of smoke.

    1. Our Christmas Eve dinner growing up was always Italian - baccala, tripe, anchovy crispelli - all the weird things my father ate as normal food when he was a kid. The tripe smelled so bad cooking I'd go out on the porch for hours in the Buffalo winter.

      It left me with a long standing love of baccala and hatred of tripe.

      2 Replies
      1. re: reiflame

        And I remember the smell of the the baccala as it was soaking. We had a cold pantry off the kitchen, and I refused to go near that door when the baccala was soaking, it smelled sooo bad. Ironically, it left me with a long-standing aversion to baccala!

        1. re: roxlet

          Hehehe - as bad as the baccala was, the tripe just cleared everybody out of the house. Baccala was DEFINITELY the lesser of two evils (and tasted a lot better when finished, too)

      2. Since it's just my husband and me these past few years, we usually dine out on Christmas Day. But it's slim pickin's as far as selection as most dining establishments are closed for the Holiday.

        Last year we went to Oregon Grill on Christmas Eve and were scheduled to spend Christmas Day itself at Brighton's, but we were not feeling very inclined to go out again, so we ordered in Chinese food from a local joint. No messy cleanup.

        So, this year I am planning to venture out on the Eve, but am going to have a Baltimore-type dinner of Crab Imperial and fried oysters, plus salads that I can make ahead (or buy from a good deli). We can relax and graze on all types of goodies during the day, open presents, watch movies and play games. And, we won't be stuck with two people having to consume a 15 pound turkey, stuffing, etc. for days on end.

        In fact, I prefer to deep fry a turkey in January and also bake cookies during the winter months when everyone else's Christmas supplies have been depleted. I bake and cook leisurely on those frosty, dreary days. It warms the heart and tummy. FoiGras

        1. Being raised in Baltimore with a heritage back to Northern Neck VA and all the Aunts and Uncles including my Mom were watermen ... in my family a holiday dinner without Crab Imperial stuffed rockfish (and oyster stew to start it off) was a sacriledge.

          Let me know if you like my Mom's recipe

          1. Steamed shrimp with lots of Old Bay and ham. My grandmother used to always have the nut covered cheese balls and crackers as snacks now that she is gone I miss that pink and orange ball covered with almond slivers.

            My Dad's first wife always makes lasagna and man she makes good lasagna.