Holiday Eating

Now that I’ve had time to digest the holidays, I’ll talk a little about food over the holidays. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re celebrating, food is intrinsic to your holiday celebration. Challah bread if you’re Jewish,  Hushuur if you’re Mongolian, and so on. Our Christmas food traditions are non-negotiable, if you are one of my kids. Christmas Eve lunch is crackers with summer sausage and assorted cheeses. We used to get a Hickory Farms assortment, but we’ve also gotten Wal-mart gift sets, K-Mart sausage and cheese sets and so on. 2009 we did something I’ve wanted to do for years. We bought the “Holiday Feast” from Figis. Whoa Baby! Smoked sausage, many different cheeses, little jellies, strawberry hard candy, two fruit cakes and two chocolate tortes. Oh, it was so much fun. We also cracked open a couple sparkling juices.

Now, in 2008, we ordered Chinese food for Christmas Eve. You should have heard the caterwauling when DH and I decided to hold off on ordering for a couple days. When we did get around to ordering Chinese, this is what we ordered: Two large General Tso’s chicken, Hot and Sour soup and egg rolls. My belt feels tight just typing about it. The kids crack me up. A couple of them are pretty picky eaters, but they chow down on the oriental food like college co-eds. We got chopsticks too, and they enjoyed practising eating with them.

The fun doesn’t end with our Christmas Chinese food. New Year’s Day we carry on the tradition started by DH’s mom. It’s snacking, Hors d’œuvres and finger food all day long. By the end of the day, the cocktail weiners are black and swollen from cooking in the crockpot for twelve hours.

This year, my Sis and her family joined us. Behold the spread:

Devilled eggs

Cream cheese/olive/lunch meat pinwheels with flour tortillas

Assorted crackers

Summer Sausage

Assorted cheeses

Meatballs in savory tomato/soy sauce/chili sauce

Cocktail weiners in grape jelly/chili sauce

Mushroom tarts (thank you Janet is Hungry!)

Bagels and two different cream cheeses (thanks, Sis!)


Blueberry mini-muffins

Vegetable tray (carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, olives, peppers, scallions) with Ranch dip

Chips and dip

We stuffed ourselves silly. What a way to start the new year!

I haven’t even mentioned the cookies and cakes and baked goods that were given to us over the holiday. E’s friends brought a big tin full of fresh baked cookies. Her Ginger Snaps were INCREDIBLE. Another neighbor brought a plate full of goodies, cookies AND high quality chocolates. Friends from church brought a Christmas tin full of cookies. (Farley found them, carried the tin around until it opened, and ate the Hershey kisses off the tops of all of the peanut butter kiss cookies.)

I wonder why my pants don’t fit.

Desperate Snacks Call for Desperate Measuring

You know how it is. You’re out of candy bars, M&Ms, Donut Gems, Chocolatey Rice cereal, chocolate CHIPS, what do you do? Besides hop in the car and spend your well-earned money on your fix? Maybe you don’t have gas in the car, or cash in your wallet, or money in the bank, or sick kids at home or it’s Sunday. You Google, of course. You bake brownies from scratch. I don’t recommend this if you are ALSO out of milk. This recipe is great, because I NEVER have baking chocolate at home. If I did, I can bet someone in my house, (Dale) would eat it thinking it was the world’s largest candy bar.

¾ cup butter (170 g)
1+½ cup sugar (330 g)
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
¾ cup all-purpose flour (85 g)
½ cup cocoa powder (50 g)
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt (optional)
3 oz (100 g) chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F (Gas mark 4 or 180 deg C).
  2. Line a 13 x 9 in (33 x 23 cm) cake tin with grease proof or other non-stick paper and grease the tin. Melt the butter.
  3. Beat eggs with sugar, and add vanilla, flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt (optional) and melted butter.
  4. Add chopped nuts.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 20-30 minutes.
  6. Cool the cake. Dust with powdered sugar or glace with your favorite chocolate frosting.

How about if you are craving something salty? And you have no microwave popcorn? Or Lay’s potato chips? Here are some of my favorite ‘desperate’ salty snacks; please don’t laugh. I’m a gourmet cook with red-neck tendencies.

Popcorn: you can’t beat kernels that you pop yourself in a heavy-bottomed pan with 1/3 cup of oil. Then you melt some margarine and douse your popcorn along with a liberal sprinkling of salt. If you only want a single serving, did you know you can pop kernels in your microwave in a regular old lunch sack? Awesome! Just put enough kernels to cover the bottom with a tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil. Fold down the top, and push your ‘popcorn’ button on the microwave. You should still hang around and listen, when the popping slows down, pull it out. Salt and butter to taste.

Cold hot dogs. You know those things are LOADED with sodium.

Pretzel sticks in cubes of cheese. This is practically a small meal. I have virtually no guilt about eating this one.

Cheesy Omelet or Scrambled Eggs: When we are scraping the bottom of the barrel, we almost always have an egg or two left and a lonely square of cheese in the back of the fridge. I like sauteing a little garlic and onion, then pouring the egg in, then adding the cheese when it’s almost done. If you have some salsa to go with it, this will cure your salt fix great. Oh, and a slice of toast too. And a glass of tomato juice. What the heck. This is like, fourth breakfast, or something.

Tomato Juice: Sprinkle with salt, and stir with a celery swizzle stick. Salty, and healthy. Unless you can’t do the sodium thing.

Salty Salad: Fresh salad, either the bagged kind, or iceberg that you (gasp!) cut up yourself. Add shredded cheese if you like, but a chopped tomato is really nice. Season with Lemon Pepper and roasted peanuts, and maybe a teaspoon of Ranch. You don’t really need the Ranch. The Lemon Pepper adds such a nice flavor to your greens.

Bread and Butter. It’s not salty, but if I can’t put my finger on what I’m craving, a slice of bread or toast with butter or margarine and maybe a hunk of cheese, will satisfy. Chase with a glass of milk, and you have a full tummy.

Now, back to chocolate cravings, or sweet cravings. For some reason, when I wake from an afternoon nap, I NEED sweet. If the kitchen is Stage Three, then I am not baking brownies from scratch, thank you very much. If there is absolutely no chocolate or cookies or anything like that in the house, then I will put a thick layer of peanut butter on white bread and eat it open-faced. Along with milk, this will take care of that sweet craving. Peanut butter on sliced apples, if you close your eyes when you eat them, ALMOST tastes like caramel apples. The funny thing is, I don’t really like peanut butter all that much. But I guess there’s enough fat and sweet in it to fool part of my brain.

Instant pudding can be a quick fix for a sweet craving. You just have to have plenty of milk on hand.

PB&J: same as above

Frosting on crackers. My family really digs this. I’ll play along and have a cracker with frosting. Then the next morning, when I discover that they have left the chocolate frosting on the counter instead of putting it back in the fridge, I get out a spoon and eat the rest of it plain. So sue me.

White sugar sprinkled on butter bread. Look, don’t tell anyone. This is just really sick, but when you want something sweet and doughy, well this does the trick.

Chocolate syrup stirred into milk.

That’s all I got. A lot of things I picked because it doesn’t involve a lot of work or groceries. That’s where the desperation comes in. Good luck with your desperate snacks.