Home (food) for the holidays

FSD’s editors share their holiday food traditions.

By Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

This week I head home to Kansas City for the holidays. What is waiting for me—foodwise— might surprise you. This is because my family decided, about six or seven years ago, that we were done with “traditional” Christmas Day meals. Instead we gather together to enjoy a feast designed around a theme.

This year is a taco bar. Last year was an Italian feast. Two years ago it was breakfast for dinner. We’ve done baseball game themes, barbecue and comfort food. Usually appropriate dress is encouraged. For example, for the year we did breakfast for dinner, everyone was allowed to wear his/her pajamas. Every year at Thanksgiving, my sister and cousin sit down to decide the year’s theme.

In preparation for this year’s festivity, I made a trial run of slow-cooked carnitas. I was pretty happy with the results and hope my family appreciates the new dish in my very limited cooking repertoire. I love holiday traditions like this, mostly because it seems everyone has one and usually people have different ones. I thought it would be fun to hear from our staff about their holiday food traditions and then invite our readers to share theirs in the comment section below or on Facebook.

Paul King, editor: My sons insist on my making creamed onions at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Peeling the onions can be a lot of work, but no matter how many I make there are never leftovers. My mother's recipe for pumpkin pie, including fresh pumpkin, lives on at our holiday gatherings. I usually make my own flavored whipped cream to go with it. My wife, Karen, has brought with her the tradition of her mother's lemon loaf.

Becky Schilling, managing editor, FSD print: My mom's mom was a great cook. She had a cooking show (I want to say in the '60s) called Looking and Cooking. My grandparents lived in Oklahoma, so food was simple, nothing fancy. Her food was homey, in a good way. My grandma starting a tradition on Christmas Eve that my family still celebrates. Instead of making a traditional meal, with an entrée and sides, we have Christmas Eats, which amounts to a table full of dips, meats, cheeses, chips, crackers, fudge and four or five Christmas cookies. The name of the game is comfort food; health freaks need not show up. Of course, being in Texas for the holidays, my family will often sip on dad's famous frozen margaritas as well.

Peter Romeo, VP content: Present-day acquaintances will be shocked by the revelation, but I had a pie problem as a youngster. I lived, breathed and dreamed pies—apple, blueberry, cherry, peach and, right through the holidays, pumpkin and mincemeat. I didn’t know the special deal about Christmas was getting gads of presents. I thought all the hoopla was due to parents’ indulgence of kids’ pie yearnings. But I was living on borrowed time; pies proved to be a gateway treat to the harder stuff. One day it was an innocent slice of pumpkin. Then I moved up to some ice cream on the side, a short pony glass of eggnog to wash it down. Before long I was wolfing sugar cookies and biting the chimneys off gingerbread houses.

But I was one of the fortunates. My sister-in-law, refusing to flinch after seeing me dig into some pecan pie, suggested I try an airy alternative she’d just made on a special press-like device. “It’s called a pizzelle,” she said as she took away my pie fork and put one of the patterned Italian cookies into my hand. It saved my holidays from being one long pie chase. Indeed, it might have saved my life. I’ve lapsed back into my pie habit from time to time, but all it takes is a good batch of pizzelles to set me right again.

Bill Anderson, publisher: I married into a family that must have pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for good luck in the new year! Guess it's an Ohio thing.

We here at FSD wish everyone a very happy and safe holidays and a great new year. Also, please note, there will be only one FSD Update next week, which will be delivered on Dec. 27th. Be sure to check it out though! It’s a look at the most popular online stories of 2012.