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Food traditions?

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What are yours?

On another thread, mamchef mentioned that she made cake for her boys on the first day of school because, she always has cake on the first day of school. I would love to hear about your food traditions. The common ones for me. Ham on Easter. Turkey on Thanksgiving. You know, the usual. I don't think I have any ones that are unique or special. DO you? Tell me about your traditions involving food. The common ones and the not so common. Thanks. :)

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  1. Three families and one thanksgiving for over 20 years. One Lady makes bread and desserts, the hostess the turkey, ham, and starches, the host provides the drinks, and I provide veggies and appetizers. Recently, the apps has been taken over by the next generation. All the rest do cleanup. While playing Gregorian chants and Alice's Restaurant on the stereo.

    1. My older brother's birthday is Christmas Eve. He passed away 10 years ago, but for the first 18 years of my life dinner on Christmas Eve was his pick, usually oysters or take out Chinese. Christmas breakfast was always left over birthday cake. After he died, we reinvented a lot of Christmas traditions. We still have take out on the 24th, usually pizza, but first go to the mall and sit on a bench with a cup of coffee watching the last minute actions. On Christmas morning, we have potato pancakes for brunch on Christmas, using potatoes that Santa leaves in each stocking.

      1. We've always done some version of the Feast of the Seven (or three) fishes on Christmas Eve. Grill cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup on Fridays during Lent. We always camp on the last weekend of October with three families and the boozy cheese recipe I found on this site has made an appearance for the last 4 or 5 years.

        1 Reply
        1. re: southernitalian

          What is the boozy cheese recipe? Does it go with smores?!?!

        2. I welcome summer on Memorial Day weekend with a cooked-on-the-grill chicken,sausage and seafood paella....then on Labor Day weekend I sadly say "goodbye" to summer with
          the same dish. The paella pan I have is about 18 inches so will feed quite a few folks, with
          the addition of a salad and dessert. Been making this for about 25 years and have lived in
          three diffeent towns in those same years. People in all three towns loved the dish!

          1. There are two that come to mind (the first one was so much fun when we were kids)

            1) "Magic" leprechaun milk on St. P's Day: My Mom (and her Mom and maybe longer than that) would put a drop of green food coloring in the bottom of our breakfast milk glass in the morning. So when we were at the table she would pour in the white milk and it would MAGICALLY turn green in our glass, proving that the Leprechaun had been around. It was awesome and took WAY longer than you'd think for us to figure out. Everyone should do this with their kids.

            2) Oyster Stew on Christmas. (Dad's side of the family tradition). It was horrible but we always had it until I was well into High School when my Dad FINALLY told my grandmother that he didn't really like it (I bet he said we kids didn't like it though). She said she didn't like it either, so thus ended the tradition. But honestly I've been thinking of giving it another try with a much better recipe . . . .

            11 Replies
            1. re: thimes

              OK. I got a good laugh at the oyster stew story. She'd been making oyster stew for years, and didn't like the stuff? Too funny.

              1. re: thimes

                can I ask where you're from, Thimes?

                My great-grandparents' anniversary was Christmas Eve, and the family gathered at their northern Indiana home until my great-grandmother couldn't do it anymore -- for oyster stew (and those little pillowy crackers)

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Wow - you're the first person I've ever met (okay we haven't really met) that has EVER had this tradition.

                  My Grandparents were from Wisconsin. That side of the family has been in the US for generations (DAR and all that) but the family line is very much German. I wonder if it is a German thing since Indiana and Wisconsin have strong German immigrant populations. Where your Grandparents German?

                  1. re: thimes

                    That's why I asked...it's not all that common a tradition!

                    My great-grandmother was 2nd generation Swiss (spoke "Dutch" (sic) when she didn't want any of us to know what she was talking about) - her grandfather had immigrated in the 1850s.

                    But my great-granddad WAS 2nd generation German - from the Saarland (also 1850s). Lots of Swiss in Sconsin, too...It might well be a "paterland" tradition --

                    Anybody else out there have any input?

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      I'm German, and I have never heard of any xmas tradition (or other tradition) to do with oyster stew. Bummer, really, cause I like oysters.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        My BiL's family is from Germany, and they always had oyster stew for Christmas.

                        1. re: tzurriz

                          Really? How bizarre? Which region, do you know?

                          1. re: linguafood

                            I don't, sorry, but he grew up in Nebraska. My husband's family (father's side) is also of German descent, black forest region, and they have no such tradition.

                            1. re: tzurriz

                              Well, it's funny. I'm from the Rhineland where no such tradition exists, but my mom and I are very fond of seafood, so instead of the traditional xmas goose or carp (!), we'd get a variety of seafood salads, shrimp, and other little treats, and feast over a few hours while watching TV.

                              A lot of Germans have knackwurst and potato salad for xmas dinner.

                              Lastly - and I'm not sure if this counts as a 'food tradition', but I have gathered a fairly large and faithful group of chili heads who meet once a week at a local Sichuan place. It's been going on for over a year now, long enough to be a tradition in my book '-)

                    2. re: sunshine842

                      We always have oyster soup for Christmas Eve and we're East coast (VA, MD, PA) stock and predominately English/Scottish. Every year without fail it's the same simple oyster soup with oyster crackers and served out of the same soup tureen that's been handed down since the 1820s.

                      The oyster soup tradition is more common than you may think. It was widespread in Victorian days as oysters were a wintertime specialty and could travel easily once preserved.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        It's tradition in my father's family too, coming from my grandmother's side (Nova Scotian).

                    3. Our family doesn't have any major traditions regarding food. And our Christmas and Thanksgiving practices have been changed because my kids all moved away. However, the stuffing/dressing for the turkey (Thanksgiving or Christmas) has to be cornbread stuffing, and I have 'my' way of making it which does not vary much. Mr. Sueatmo's family used to have ham for Christmas, so I tried to serve ham on Christmas Day, but I had a terrible time finding ham I like. I think I don't really like ham too much. There were always oranges in the toes of the kids Christmas stockings, until it dawned on me that they wouldn't eat them! And there was always chocolate in the stockings as well--which of course was eaten. Throughout my kids' childhood there was gingerbread in the fall. I have a good recipe which I got from an old cookbook. We always seemed to enjoy eating it. One of my kids got the recipe several years ago from me, and began making it for Christmas. His twist on our favorite was to make it in muffin tins. So I think it is nice that his children are eating something he ate as a child.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sueatmo

                        Are you willing to post your gingerbread recipe? Love the stuff.

                        I always make country ham for Christmas and Easter. Also MUST make a coconut cake at Easter, too.

                        1. re: pine time

                          I haven't had a coconut cake in ages. Probably as long ago as when I probably made one back in the 1970s. They are good, I agree. I'll round up the gingerbread recipe and post it.

                          1. re: pine time

                            Enjoy!

                            Gingerbread

                            1 c. molasses
                            1 ½ c. boiling water, or very hot water heated in the microwave
                            1 t. baking soda
                            ½ c. (4 oz.) butter
                            1 c. sugar
                            ½ t. salt
                            2 t grated fresh ginger
                            2 t. cinnamon
                            1 egg, beaten
                            2 ½ c. sifted flour
                            1 T. baking powder

                            Desserts 8-10 servings

                            Baking the cake in this way gives a very crisp, candied crust with a light, delicate crumb. Milk may be substituted for water

                            1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
                            2. Combine the molasses with the hot water and soda.
                            3. Allow to cool In the meantime, cream the butter with sugar.
                            4. Add the molasses mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and mix. Add the salt, ginger and cinnamon. Beat well,
                            5. Add the well-beaten egg and the flour, which has been sifted with the baking powder alternately to the molasses mixture.
                            6. The batter should be thin enough so that it runs off the spoon and “ribbons.” Pour into 2 well-greased pans (11 x 7 x 11 ½ inches) or into a 8 1/2 x 13" pan, and bake in a moderately hot oven (375 F) for about 20 minutes.
                            7. Reduce the heat to 300 F and bake for 20 minutes more.
                            8. Let the gingerbread cool before cutting.

                            Notes: I always bake this in a 9” x 12” pan. It can be baked in muffin tins for individual servings. Baking the gingerbread in a hot oven at first gives a very crisp, candied crust with a light, delicate crumb. You can sub milk for the water, although I have never done this. I tend to use the fresh ginger with a heavy hand. You might like more than 2 teaspoons of it.

                            Based on a recipe from The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook, Grosset: New York, c. 1963. I have restated this recipe in my own words, and changed ingredients slightly.

                            1. re: pine time

                              do you do a certain coconut cake? please post a recipe if you do. I love the idea of that.

                              we do scrapple during Thanksgiving Christmas and Easter.
                              PD has an egg casserole in one of her cookbooks that is very popular with the family too.

                              1. re: iL Divo

                                No particular recipe for the coconut cake; I start with a basic white cake recipe. Just a couple of rules at my house: gotta be a fresh coconut, I sub some of the liquid in the recipe with coconut milk, also must sub extract with a combo of coconut and almond extracts. No such thing as coconut overload in my opinion!

                          2. When my daughter and I go on our summer vacation camping trip, we bring a can of frozen lobster, butter and fresh spinach. This makes a wonderful feast heated up. Easy and will keep a few days out. We eithe eat it after the fresh meat we brought is gone or on a rainy day we don't feel like cooking on the open fire. Have done this for several years now.

                            1. Oh, we have a ton of them! My favorite though is a relatively new one. For the last 3 years or so, and for the foreseeable future because we all love it, my family gets together and has Chinese hotpot for New Years Eve. We all go our separate ways for actual midnight celebrations, but we have dinner together and it is so much fun!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: tzurriz

                                What IS it w/ us and Chinese food? :)

                                1. re: mamachef

                                  'cause if it's Chinese, even traif is kosher. ;)

                              2. My family makes homemade ravioli with a spinach/meat/ricotta filling for Christmas dinner. We get together on the 1st Sat of December and bang out about 1000 ravioli in a couple of hours. The children and grandchildren (including me in my 30s) do the hard work while the 90 and 95 year old Italian grandmother and great-aunt yell at us for doing it all wrong.

                                We close up the ravioli with a zig-zag roller that looks like what pinking shears do to fabric. Then we use the scraps and any leftover pasta (turned into fettucini) to make dinner for everyone. We do pasta with homemade pesto, potato slivers, toasted pine nuts, and parmesan cheese and then just the pasta with butter and potato slivers for the few in the family who don't like pesto or pine nuts.

                                It used to be brutal when we had to use the hand-cranked pasta machines to roll out the pasta. Even as a child I had to take my turn to give the adults' arms a rest. The KitchenAid pasta roller set has made the whole process MUCH easier and super-fast. We make about 1000 ravioli in 3 hours. We have them for Christmas dinner and everyone gets to bring a bag of 25 home for themselves to enjoy whenever they want. (usually in the middle of summer for me!)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Njchicaa

                                  wow- that sounds like an AWESOME Christmas dinner; i've never heard of any family making 1,000 raviolis on Christmas :)

                                2. Every Christmas my husband and I do a fondue spread - all sorts of tempura, cheese, chocolate, etc. going on. It is a lot of fun!

                                  1. lilmomma,
                                    Graet question!
                                    Christmas Eve: home-made pizzas (bring your own toppings)
                                    New Years Day: baby backs on the Weber, no matter how cold it is
                                    Annual deck party: ham rollups, crab dip, tater salad, slaw, fatties, ABTs, ribs, brats, dogs, boogers, beans, etc.
                                    Octoberfest (this weekend) on the deck: brats, hot tater salad, red cabbage, Das Boot w/Spaten Oktoberfest.

                                    1. I always do breakfast for dinner on the first day of the school year. Early September is still too warm for a "real" meal and the kids love having french toast or pancakes. We do all sorts of toppings and make it a really celebratory meal.

                                      1. I suppose black eyed peas on New Years' day in the American south is a given?
                                        I have New England friends who have served salmon, fresh hulled peas, and hand cranked strawberry ice cream, every 4th of July at their homestead, for the last couple centuries. Big ice house, lots of saw dust.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          I forgot about New Year's & good luck: also raised in the south, and our family didn't like black-eyed peas, but we had to have pork & saurkraut for New Year's.

                                          1. re: pine time

                                            My first New Year's Eve in Nashville was spent in my new boss's home, where his Alsatian wife made us all choucroute garni. It was such a revelation that I took careful notes, and have made it for NY almost every year since then. However, Mrs. O insists on Hoppin' John as well, so I have to make that too.

                                            Christmas used to be duck, and I think we will go back to that, now that our big family gatherings are a thing of the past. Christmas Eve we pretty much ignored, but I'm trying to establish something with salt cod, since it's so readily available then. Morue à la Savoyarde, a classic bistro dish of cod, potatoes and onions gratinée with some shredded Comté cheese on top, is a PITA to do (it's perfect for mass production, fiddly to make just one) but it's delicious, and can be made well ahead of time because that's how it was designed.

                                            Turkey on TG was the only seasonal tradition I grew up with, although we had a version of a traditional New England 4th of July meal that we ate at least once every summer: a creamy gelatin tuna mould with an accompanying dish of boiled new potatoes and fresh peas in cream sauce. Still adore that, though it needs to be rare, as calorific as it is.

                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              Due to travel complications, we were stuck in India one year for Thanksgiving. Not a turkey to be found. Saag paneer, a favorite, is no sub for turkey and stuffing (or "filling" as Mr Pine calls it.)

                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                Another tradition we followed for a while, this at someone else's house: on the Friday after every Thanksgiving, a friend of ours would feed whoever wanted to drop in as many hot dogs as they wanted. We were expected to bring some side dish, though it absolutely could not be gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, or anything else that might grace a TG table (except wine, of course!). My potato salad was always welcome. And then he went and got married, seriously and permanently this time, and that was the end of that.

                                              2. re: pine time

                                                I have seen the sauerkraut variation in recent years..not that it has not been around forever...but even the greybeards of my youth recalled the 19th century New Year's Day was REQUIRED to include the black-eyed peas (for luck) and cabbage (for money).

                                            2. Growing up, my Dad always made Chinese food on New Years day. Christmas eve was Tortiere, a French Canadian meat pie.

                                              These days, I do a traditional Christmas dinner with turkey and all the fixings, which is it's own tradition based on the fact that I have to do it with a toaster oven, a microwave, two gas burners, and a rice cooker.

                                              1. My family traditions growing up were - Christmas Day: Full english spread, starting with slices of cold pork pie for breakfast, oranges in our Christmas stockings, ham, turkey and pork with all the trimmings for lunch; plum pudding and fruit cake for dessert. Leftovers forever. Easter we'd usually be camping, so chocolate eggs and a camp-stove fry up. Yum cha every September for my Grandma's birthday. Pancakes made as breakfast in bed for Mum every Mother's day. Fish and chips the last Friday of every month, chinese take-out on the night my parents would do accounts.

                                                My traditions now - Christmas Eve Eve dinner with my best friend (steak and champagne). Christmas day breakfast is potted shrimp, melba toast and champagne (see a theme here?) A lamb roast with my friends at Easter. I use American thanksgiving as a good date for a get-together before things go crazy here in December and usually serve a giant pot of Irish stew. Decadent potato gratin I make twice every year - once for Orphan's Chistmas Day pot luck and then once for a friend's birthday (at her request). Sunday is my weekly cooked breakfast, usually potato hash topped with a poached egg. Breakups are followed by chicken nuggets.

                                                1. Probably fits on a different post but my ex wife's dad always put out a package of the individual cereals for Christmas. I maintained that for 15 years for her. After we got divorced I did it for a couple more years but eventually stopped...some traditions just fade away.

                                                  1. I come from a family that all came here from different parts of the world in the past 30 years so the eating year is rather eclectic:
                                                    Three Kings: Cookies and small cakes
                                                    Mardi Gras: King cake
                                                    Lunar New Year: mooncake, glutinous rice cake (tikoy)
                                                    Paczki Day: paczki
                                                    Shrove Tuesday: pancake supper (not just traditional pancakes, but moo shu, latkes and scallion pancakes, too)
                                                    Lent: tuna casserole and oden
                                                    Easter: lamb, deviled eggs, carrot cake with macadamia nuts and some sort of confection made from roses and cardamom
                                                    Diwali: motichoor ladoo
                                                    Thanksgiving: turkey and trimming
                                                    Noche Buena: hot chocolate, chicken salad, pan de sal and ham
                                                    Christmas: chicken relleno, crab gumbo, croquembouche

                                                    1. The only tradition we have is turkey on Christmas Day. I have spent years trying to persuade Mrs H that there would be much nicer things to eat but I have failed completely. It's tradition, you see. Everyone expects turkey at Christmas, blah, blah.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                        If it was good enough for the Cratchits, its good enough for everyone else, I suppose. I don't like turkey for Christmas either.

                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                          I don't think I could live in a hotter part of the world at Christmas time (Christmas Day is usually 40 degrees [105 F] or higher), but yet every freaking Christmas my Welsh mother INSISTS upon cooking a ginormous turkey. Every year. For between 4 and 6 people. None of us particularly care about the turkey, we can't even come close to making a dent in the jurassic bird and it's really just too hot to be eating a full traditional Christmas roast. So last year I (uh, generously???) insisted upon hosting Christmas this year. It's going to be my new tradition of serving cold seafood, antipasto and summer fruits with cocktails.I daresay I'll be accused of sabotaging Christmas, but I just can't face a Christmas turkey this year.

                                                          1. re: TheHuntress

                                                            How about roasting JUST the breast (or a leg, or whatever) -- then you've appeased the Gods of Christmas, but it's no longer the central attraction.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Ya, I've actually thought about doing some quails or spatchcocks so there is some kind of bird on the table to make the Christmas Gods (ie. my mother) happy. Little fat quails wrapped in pancetta would be in the Christmas spirit and flavour.

                                                        2. We go back and visit my in-laws in Tokyo every New Year's since we moved back to the States. Our newly established tradition, which we've done the last three or four years, is to order fresh crab, uni, and ikura from seafood purveyors in Hokkaido and have it delivered on the 31st. On NYD, I spend the morning pealing the crab and sipping fresh sake, while others prepare dishes. Then we have a seafood feast to celebrate the new year.

                                                          1. [This may help anyone with Children]

                                                            My mother is from Scotland and started this tradition:
                                                            Every Christmas Eve she would sneak into our rooms and leave a few gifts from McSanta (the Santa that serves Scotland, but makes special trips to America just for my Brother and I, and a few other descendants of Scots...long story).

                                                            Knowing that we would wake up incredibly early, she said that we could open any gift in our room and play with them until Mom and Dad got up (a Matchbox car, an Action figure...that sorta thing). This would give us something to do and allow my parents to get a good nights sleep. Well, she would always leave us some shortbread, or something like that, to give us a little bite to eat to hold us over until we were given a proper breakfast.

                                                            So, for us, we would always a have a little shortbread on Christmas morning.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                              Smart Mom!

                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                The trickiest thing is getting into your child's bedroom without waking them. She used to say that if we did not fall asleep, Santa would not come.

                                                                1. re: DougRisk

                                                                  I used to work for a guy who said that when his kids were little, they had the darnedest time getting them to bed on Christmas Eve. He said that his wife, in some still-unexplained bolt from the blue, put a band-aid over their navels and told them that this would keep the sleepies inside, because they were leaking out. He was highly amused, but tickled pink when his grandkids asked him for a band-aid on Christmas Eve to keep the sleepies inside.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    That's cute! Maybe I'll try it for myself on my next looong flight. Benadryl and airplane wine do not always make the head feel so good.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      That is really adorable.

                                                                      1. re: DougRisk

                                                                        My Dad would sneak into our rooms on Easter-eve, sprinkle baby powder around, and use 3 fingers to make bunny tracks. We were thrilled!

                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                          My dad made bootprints on the hearth with fireplace ash. I thought my sister's head as going to explode.

                                                              2. My mom didn't cook, at all, except for mother's day and a "Christmas" dinner that may or may not have been served on Christmas day.

                                                                The menu (absolutely no substitutions allowed) - roast goose, stuffed with golden delicious apples, gravy, potato dumplings (both smooth and rough), red pickled cabbage and rye bread.

                                                                Always the same people at the table - mom, dad, nana, pappy, Mr. CB and me. Three of the six are no longer with us and I miss those dinners so much. Once in a while, Mr. CB and I will talk about trying to recreate the menu but then admit it is probably better left as great memories.

                                                                Our food traditions - some sort of seafood for Christmas morning breakfast, usually a crab stratta with champagne.

                                                                A holiday party with friends - wild game and seafood. The hunter provides the game, I provide the seafood.

                                                                1. Husband and I are big baseball fans and live in the U.S. In the middle of the season, there's a near-weeklong break from regular game play, and two days of fun: the Home Run Derby contest one night, and the All-Star Game the next. For these events, we eat quasi-ballpark and/or picnic food: husband gets brats and I have Tofurkey Italian Sausages in hot dog buns with lots of toppings; I get a jar of nacho cheese dip and tortilla chips for "nachos"; some years we've had soft pretzels, but the past few years we're more likely to add potato salad. Add a couple of beers and it's a fun, laid-back, unhealthy good time, and a departure from our usual dinner style. Mmmm, I can't wait till next year! :-)

                                                                  1. This is going to sound strange, but it's always a ton of fun. My husband and I go to whatever our local that year sports bar is for Christmas dinner. We get a bunch of baskets of appetizers and drink beer. Chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, quesadillas, etc...
                                                                    It's a young tradition started about 15 years ago when choosing where to be and who to spend time with at Christmas became too much drama. So we stay where we are, sports bars are always open later in the day, and we have a blast! A greasy, heartburn inducing blast, but I like it.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                      oh! Thanks for reminding me - sushi on Christmas Day is becoming our new tradition. We're usually compelled to spend the holiday with my husband's family, but the past few years, their celebration has fallen on another day due to the travel plans of a family member - and I sometimes have to work on Christmas Day anyway. (I work at a newspaper.) Last Christmas I had to work a couple of hours in the late afternoon, so we went to a movie (rare for us), ate all we could eat sushi, and THEN I went in to work, much happier than usual.

                                                                    2. The All-Year Global Hound:
                                                                      New Year's Day - black-eyed peas, ham, collards
                                                                      3 Kings - tamales, black beans
                                                                      Orthodox Easter - stuffed cabbage, kulich, pashka
                                                                      Western Easter - roast lamb, asparagus, strawberry shortcake
                                                                      Mother's Day - seafood paella
                                                                      July 4 - burgers, dogs, baked beans, watermelon
                                                                      September 18 (Chilean independence) - tomato/onion salad, pastel de choclo, empanadas
                                                                      Thanksgiving - capon, cornbread dressing, stewed tomatoes, rutabagas with kale & bacon, pecan cake
                                                                      Xmas Eve - goose & trimmings
                                                                      Xmas Day - Huevos Rancheros!

                                                                      1. I have been w/ my husband for more than 10 years...even before we were married, I always made him a birthday cake. Now that our daughter is 3.5 yrs old, we made it the night before and we ALL had it for breakfast on my husband's birthday the next day.This way, I knew my husband would be able to celebrate his birthday with our daughter in case he got home late that night. It was a fun, special treat for us to start the day w/ a celebration and for my daughter, cake for breakfast was the ULTIMATE. I have decided that our new family tradition is birthday cake for breakfast on each of our birthdays!!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: MRS

                                                                          So sweet.
                                                                          Mr Pine asks me to make him rasgullas for his b.d. in lieu of cake.

                                                                        2. For my childrens' birthdays, they can choose their favorite meal and I will cook it for them on their birthday. They also have a choice of store-bought or homemade cake. The teen, for her birthday last year, requested toast and chocolate gravy for breakfast.

                                                                          I don't care much for gourds in general, including pumpkin pie. But every year for Halloween, we all get to carve our own pumpkin. After a couple of days, when the pumpkins start to droop, I'll bring 'em in, cook down all the pumpkin, make a pie, and freeze the rest. Then we have pumpkin everything for a couple of months. Favorites are pumpkin bread and pumpkin pancakes. This also almost always provides a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, although I am not especially invested in having pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

                                                                          I am not a big fan of turkey, so I usually do a ham at T-day and Christmas, and follow up with split pea soup with the bone. Or sometimes borscht, although I'm the only one who likes it, so I don't make it very often, unless I plan to eat it for every meal for a week.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: emilyjh75

                                                                            While I love the tradition of carving pumpkins -- therein might lie your dislike of pumpkin.

                                                                            Carving pumpkins are bred to be much structurally stronger than pie pumpkins -- therefore they tend to be stringy, tough, and tasteless (not to mention a little yuck after being exposed to the air for a few days).

                                                                            Pie pumpkins have much more tender flesh, and have much more pronounced flavor.

                                                                            It makes a *huge* difference.

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              Thanks for the info! Yeah, I did know that the carving pumpkins aren't the best for pie, but it's more like the egg before the chicken: I don't care for gourds really anyway, so it doesn't matter to me if it's not the best-tasting pumpkin. I just basically can't stand the waste of the pumpkins, so I'll cook them up and eat them anyway.

                                                                              1. re: emilyjh75

                                                                                ours end up pretty gnarly and inedible within 3-4 days, so mine are sent to the compost pile, so they aren't wasted, and pie pumpkins are cheap.

                                                                                (do keep pumpkins out of reach of dogs, by the way - pumpkin acts as a very quick and effective laxative for dogs, and they LOVE the stuff. Not poison -- won't hurt them, just flush things out thoroughly...but could create an issue...found this out the hard way)

                                                                          2. pumpkin seeds from carved pumpkins on Halloween (toasted on sheet then tossed w/salt); seafood bake on Thanksgiving and Christmas; and lentils on New Year's Day

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                              crowmuncher, blanch the pumpkin seeds for 5 minutes first in heavily-salted water -- then spread them out, let them dry, and roast from there. makes a big difference.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                huh...i'm curious- how does that change them? never done that

                                                                                1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                                  the salt actually makes it to the inside, the shells aren't quite so woody-textured, and they toast better (forgot to add the part about tossing in a little light oil before baking)

                                                                                  I was skeptical, too -- but they're just better all around.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    awesome tip- thanks Sunshine!

                                                                            2. Christmas Eve is always at my SIL's house- Seven Fishes, and more desserts than could possibly be concumed! Thanksgiving (25+)is at my house, and my mother and I make the meal- have to have my mothers bread stuffing. The family brings apps and desserts, and I make all of the pies. Easter at another SIL's house- brunch wil an Easter egg hunt for the kids. For my birthday, we always have fondue with my neice and her family.
                                                                              Each summer my family vacation in NC, on the Outer Banks. There are at least 25 of us every year. Each night, one family cooks, and we now have a traditional menu for the week. A few years ago, the kids wanted to be involved, so now they have one night to cook, and we have a taco bar. It is great, and the kids love the tradition. They know what will be on the table depending on who is cooking. We have Dogs and burgers the first night, steak and homemade clam chowder one night, grilled shrimp and chicken one night, taco night, pulled pork night, deep fried turkey night, and take out pizza for the final night. Lots of salads, pasta, rice and cheesy potatoes for the sides.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: macca

                                                                                We went apple picking Saturday and got the first of the honey crisps. It wasn a gorgeous day. We had a picnic at the orchard and got the fresh donuts. I am going to make this a tradition for us. It was a great day!

                                                                                Also, I forgot that for the past 2 years, we have had Easter brunch at my house with a huge Easter egg hunt for the kids. I take 12 plastic eggs and put a penny in it and the rest, which is about five hundred eggs, have candy. If you find a egg with a penny in it, you get to pick an envelope in which I put various amounts of money. That makes it fun, even for the teenagers. I have a huge yard and it takes them at least a half hour to hunt them all down!

                                                                              2. Another "tradition" we have is going out to eat after we clean the house! I don't want to mess up my freshly cleaned house! LOL!

                                                                                1. My "food traditions" have changed as my life as changed. Right now the first thing I think of is -- DD is a Catholic missionary and when she comes home from whatever country she has been in (currently Bolivia) I always bring her olives from the Italian Market.

                                                                                  I used to make a God-awful dessert the kids called "stripey jello" with layers of jello and layers of gelatinized (word?) sour cream in between ~~ they still all want it as adults and now the next generaton wants it. DNiece requested I make it for her wedding rehearsal dinner on the beach. See me transporting jello from Los Angeles to San Diego.

                                                                                  Other traditions I try to keep, turkey on thanksgiving although we have 3 vegetarians so we also have tofurkey; Ham and baked eggplant on Easter; everbody gets their choice on their bday(s). Christmas evolved over the years to Lasagne and Italian deli. I grew up with Turkey for TGiving and Christmas and always thought that was super duper boring; so when I married an Italian. . . . .

                                                                                  Several of us are low carbers, so we have successfully adapted from mashed potatoes to mashed cauliflower. We are consummate dieters (DS has lost over 140 lbs. over the past two years and I have lost over 50 in the past year) so we have tried to refocus some (but not all) food traditions. DSis is highly allergic to shellfish and nuts so there's another limiting consideration.

                                                                                  I like to make stuffed cabbage for St. Patricks; Ribs for Memorial Day; Hot Dogs and Potato Salad for 4th of July but those are not cast in stone. Dniece makes white chocolate/raspberry cheesecake for the holidays. I make spiced pecans.

                                                                                  XMIL was from Sicily and ironically I am the only one who retains any of her recipes (i.e. methods)