The Magic of Christmas

2 Comments

I don’t bake, I really don’t. But Christmas is coming and this year I have decided to do some baking. And as I haven’t done it for years, it requires some pre-Christmas testing. So this week I’ve whipped up a few treats in preparation for the oncoming food festivities.

Christmas CakeHubby, who would almost walk over hot coals for fruit cake is my tester, and he is loving every minute of it! He was brought up on homemade cakes, biscuits, and all manner of delectable preserves and desserts made by his mother. Sadly, he has had no such luck living with me! I have however, created my own special food traditions over the years, and Christmas is part of those special memories.

Being European, my family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve, which during my childhood was always a magical night. Our Christmas tree with its pine needles touching the ceiling sparkled with tinsel, shiny baubles, and dangling bags of chocolate money. And our little house, readied for the evening’s celebration, was filled with the glorious sounds and smells of Christmas. For my brother and me, it was the most exciting night of the year for without fail, every Christmas Eve Santa knocked on our door. We were always beside ourselves with anticipation, bouncing from room to room and peeking through the windows. And just as darkness fell, there he was on our porch with an enormous bag of presents over his shoulder.

And such is the magic of Christmas, that as he jollied his way through the front door everyone’s eyes lit up. The adults welcomed him as if he was a long lost friend, and we children looked on with wide-eyed excitement. Then he would take a seat, declare what a wonderful night it was, and turn to us children. For the tradition was that before we received our presents, we performed for Santa. My brother recited the same poem each year, and I tinkled a tune on the piano. That done he reached into his bag and gave everyone a present, and then with a great flourish was on his way. It never occurred to us children to put two and two together when shortly after Santa left, a favourite uncle arrived!

Then it was time for food ~ our table was laden, and I mean truly laden, with gastronomic delights. No English Christmas dinner with pudding for us! We began with freshly baked Latvian pirags followed by homemade rollmops, devilled eggs, marinated cucumbers, sour cream, and smoked ham. Then came my mother’s European potato salad, her German ‘kommen morgen wieder’ ~ a delicious savoury pancake, and the yummiest sauerkraut with succulent crumbed pork chops you ever tasted. And for dessert, Mum’s special dried fruit compote served with homemade custard. All of it wonderful!

Pirags

Latvian Pirags – delicious little buns filled with bacon and onion

Rollmops

Rollmops ~ pickled herring with dill cucumber

My parents’ house was ‘the’ Christmas house for many years. My mother was a wonderful cook and my father loved a party, so naturally everybody came. After I was married the mantel to create the merriment on Christmas Eve was passed to me, and for a number of years everyone came to our house. My mother brought her sauerkraut and potato salad, a trifle arrived with my brother’s family, and everyone else brought their good cheer. And not only did our Christmas Eves sparkle with tinsel, baubles, wonderful food and the same magical goodwill and love of childhood days, Santa always arrived as well!

      Santa Claus    Family Christmas

Our family is now spread far and wide, but as many of us as can still gather on Christmas Eve, which these days is once again held at my mother’s. And as I bake and taste, and bake some more, my reminiscing fills me with joyous memories. And as only childhood memories can, awakens within me once again the magic of Christmas and the happy anticipation of sharing it with my family.

Inara Hawley © 2013

2 thoughts on “The Magic of Christmas

  1. Hello there, You mentioned a dish called ‘Kommen Morgen Wieder’ in your article ‘The Magic of Christmas’ dated December 2013. I have been searching for this recipe for many years without any luck. My grandmother used to make it for us throughout my childhood and when she died many years ago the recipe was nowhere to be found. I have heard that there is a version made with hamburger but i know my grandmother made some sort of broth and cooked beef in it and then made the recipe with this?

    If you could help me in finding this recipe i would be so very grateful.

    Thanks for any help you may be able to offer.

    Lara (Australia)

    • Hi Lara ~ thanks for following my blog. Yes, the recipe for Kommen Morgen Wieder is impossible to find. I had the same trouble. I remember writing it down years ago, but seem to have misplaced it so I rang my 90 year old mother this morning and got the basics, and here it is:

      Recipe (Ingredients and Method):
      Beef/Veal on or off the bone cooked in a soup with carrots, celery, parsnip and onion (all are important for the flavour of the broth). Ensure that the soup has very good flavour so season it well as it is served with the Kommen Morgen Wieders. When cooked, let the meat cool and put it together with the onion from the soup through a fine mincer (needs to be very fine). Then season to taste and add some cream to moisten and bind into a thick paste consistency. Put aside and cook large thin pancakes (no sugar). When they have cooled put a few tablespoons of meat in the centre and fold into a 3″ x 3″ square package. Then fry these on all sides in butter till a bit crispy. Serve with the broth from the soup with or without the vegetables.

      Thank you for asking for the recipe. You have inspired me to make it. It was one of our favourite childhood foods and I have wonderful memories of my mother mincing the meat on one of those old mincers that attached to a laminate table and then popping the square packages into the pan. We couldn’t wait to eat them – they were so delicious! If you do make them, please let me know here how they turned out.

      Cheers and Good luck!
      Inara 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s