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Zucchini Mama

eG Foodblog: Zucchini Mama - A Merry Zucchini Christmas

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A Merry Zucchini Christmas to You!

"Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a ...?"

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In this blog we'll be flying over the Canadian Rocky Mountains for Christmas in cowboy country. As they say in this household: "Keep yer fork Duke, there's pie!"

Hello from sunny Vancouver! This is your Saskatchewan expat correspondent Zucchini Mama reporting from the funky boroughs of Little Mountain Neighborhood, just up the hill from Aurora Bistro. During this Christmas blog we'll be making and consuming some prairie soul food, baking up a storm, and heading to the rootin' tootin' town of Cochrane Alberta, birthplace of country singer George Fox and home of Bernie's Bavarian Bakery! Yee haw! Git along little dogies!

This can be a challenging time of the year when psychological tectonic plates are shifting. Memories of holidays past suddenly bob to the surface, and the ghost of Christmas futures can inspire or haunt us. So let's all share our Christmas present: our culinary traditions and our survival techniques. (Sometimes they may be one and the same.) Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hannukah, or you just hunker down for a binge of your favorite movies, tell us what you're eating this year. It would mean the world to me if you would put up a couple of "postcards" and a few words about what makes this specific Christmas or holiday special to you, with specific references to your family food traditions. (It would also take a bit of pressure off me as a first-time blogger who is relatively new to eGullet.) Besides, I'd love for this blog to be a kind of window on the world for my son Ullie to be able to enjoy for years to come--an educational thread and an aide-memoire of his fifth Christmas on earth.

I am a big fan of eGullet and am drawn to it as if I was warming my hands around the hearths or stoves and ovens in people's kitchens all around the world. Some days it's like a global kitchen party. So come on in, pull up a comfortable chair, grab a snack and a drink and let's chat and cook. We'll have a giant eGullet potluck. I feel that since joining eGullet I have felt a renewed incentive to suck the marrow from life's bones, (particularly if the marrow is chocolate ganache, darling). So let's do it. Let's seize the carp du jour, chomp the char tartar, and take the time to stop and scratch and sniff the cocoa solids. Let the Zucchini Mama Christmas Party begin!

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Actually, the sun is just beginning rise, but I know it's going to be another stellar day. I am so excited about Christmas, I'm beginning to wake earlier than usual. I thought I'd post our rough schedule below, and ask a couple of questions of you.

Sunday, Dec. 18th: We'll have an oyster brunch at home and a pre-Christmas feast at my in-laws for dinner. I'll be making quince jam in the afternoon. So my first question is: can I substitute honey for sugar in the jam recipe?

Monday, Dec 19: I'll be baking up a slew of cookies and making nusskipferl.

I'm hosting an evening gathering with a few of my favorite wise women with cookies and chai after dinner. Dinner will revolve around a main dish made from carrots, chestnuts and shitake mushrooms.

Tuesday, Dec. 20: Let's make perogies! Dinner will be braised lamb shanks and pumpkin spaetzle. Has anyone here made pumpkin spaetzle before?

Wednesday, Dec. 21: We'll be heading to UBC farm to visit the happy chickens and pick up some eggs. Dinner will be a Solstice potluck at a neighbor's house: I'll be making a 100 Mile(?) Savory Pumpkin Tart.

Thursday, Dec. 22: Fly to Calgary, and have a salmon dinner.

Friday, Dec. 23: Buffalo stroganoff mit spaetzle

Sat. Dec. 24: Christmas Eve: perogies and homemade sausage

Sunday 25: We'll make a Crabby Wifesaver Christmas Breakfast and then

open the gifts! Next comes the turkey dinner with all the fixin's.

Now I'm going to grab a cup of tea, and then I'll tell you a bit about our family and our Christmas Traditions.

Zuke

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Zuke,

What a great start to your blog! Your writing style teases us to come back for more fun and laughter as the days progress! No major traditions in our house, we have the tendancy to travel in order to get with the younger members of our extended family, so the traditions vary from year to year. This year, we are starting something new, a big dinner on Christmas eve. Otherwise, we try to do what we want and relax over the holiday time as much as possible. So blog on and tell us about your traditions and foods!

On the quince jam front, I would not substitute all honey for sugar, you wlll likely end up with a different texture. Quince is full of pectin, so you should be ok with gelling, if you substitute up to a half of the honey. Sounds good will you post the recipe?


Edited by SushiCat (log)

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A Merry Zucchini Christmas to You!

I am a big fan of eGullet and am drawn to it as if I was warming my hands around the hearths or stoves and ovens in people's kitchens all around the world. Some days it's like a global kitchen party.

Wow! I love this quote! What a wonderful sentiment. I'm looking forward to spending a vicarious holiday with you and your family. I'll be lining up for a big plateful of buffalo stroganoff. Yum.

April

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Zucchini mama,

I think this is going to be a wonderful blog.. I would happily eat all the food you have planned for this week.. The savoury Pumpkin tart especially intrigues me!

Another thing I'm curious about is your screenname. Obviously, you're a mama, and I guess you love Zucchini? :smile:


Edited by Chufi (log)

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Well spank my fanny and call me Fergus! Zuke, this looks mighty swell! I'll be following along with my fingers crossed; keeping that schedule's gonna take some doin'!

"Prairie soul food," eh? Please say more!

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Oh, I'm so excited. Did you know that when things are going well in a bee hive that bees do a little dance of joy just to communicate things are great? I'm doing my little joy dance!

Thanks for the advice on the jam sushicat, and keep us posted on your BIG Christmas Dinner!

azureus, I wanted to have at least one buffalo meal because Cochrane is surrounded by some lovely buffalo ranches. We'll set an extra plate for you!

Chufi, how lovely to see your face! My friend Lysa gave us a lovely organic pumpkin from her garden in Maple Ridge. I want to honor it properly in a special tart. Now one of the biggest news stories this year was about two people in Vancouver who tried the "One Hundred Mile Diet". That is, they tried to eat food grown and produced within one hundred miles from their home. This exercise was documented in The Tyee online journal. I have yet to read the whole story, but I will do it today. I read the part about the happy chickens at UBC farm. Anyway as a new solstice ritual, I will try to make a one hundred mile tart, using only ingredients grown and produced within one hundred miles of Vancouver.

chrisamirault! My lobster man! Yours was the first blog I ever read, so you have a special place in my heart. Also, I am nuts about lobsters, have read The Secret Life of Lobsters, and I'm thinking my next show will be called "The Lobster Monologues." How's the weather out there?

Prairie soul food is the practical comfort food that colonies of settlers brought to the flatlands. I grew up in Cactus Lake Saskatchewan just a few miles from where kd laing was born. My grandparents were married in her home town of Consort, Alberta. The people I grew up with were "German Russian" catholics. They called themselves this because of their history. So, basically we have the slow foods of meat and potato variety-perogies, cabbage rolls, farmer's sausage, etc. I grew up with wonderful locally grown meat, dairy, and produce. One of my best memories is of fresh farm cream you could stand a spoon in served on mom's chocolate cake.

Come to think of it, last night I dreamt I was a waitress serving chocolate cake with chocolate whipped cream. Have you had your reccomended daily requirement of chocolate today?

Zuke


Edited by Zucchini Mama (log)

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This will be just right for the busy holiday week, a place to cuddle up and dry our socks by the woodstove, and have a bit of something soul-strengthening together. I used to live in Saskatchewan too, just for 4 years, in Regina, so I'm eagerly looking forward to any recipes from that part of the world.

Do you need a recipe for chocolate zucchini cake?

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Hard act to follow, Zuke, but I reckon it sounds like you're up to the challenge :smile:

I am v interested to see all of this spaetzle! And the Prairies.

Are those gophers? :unsure: I seem to remember seeing something of their ilk whilst on the Transcanada, somewhere between Manitoba and Alberta...

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I like to start my day with a hot mug of

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Actually, I'm drinking organic white tea (from Jiangxi China) out of my vintage Medalta mug which is made in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

I've just baked some fresh croissants, and the smell is wafting up the stairway to the studio where I am typing. Peter's washing dishes and Ullie's munching on a warm "croysant". This pronunciation comes from Peter's side of the family, even though many generations ago they were French Canadian. Actually, I got the croissants frozen from this place down the street.

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You take the croissants out the night before and leave them thaw and rise overnight. In the morning, pop them in the oven and fifteen minutes later, you've got crispy light freshly baked croissants. I like mine with avocado and cheese. We've got some "Drunken Goat" in the fridge. Peter's going to start shucking oysters in a bit. As a pre-Christmas gift, his dad always orders a big shipment of Malpeques from P.E.I. which he shares with the family. Peter's got a special recipe that involves spinach and a lot of garlic.

Here's the quince we'll be using to make jam today. One even has a belly button! I love that each fruit has its own distinct personality.

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chrisamirault, I will have to check the cook-off. Mom and dad are making the sausages at the neightbor's house. It's usually a mix of pork, beef, and maybe some local game with lots of garlic and mustard seed. I told them to take lots of photos. I'm going to have my croissant and see how the oysters are coming.

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Zucchini Mama.. I love your positivity and am looking forward to reading your blog. I am telling you, I am all about Canada these days.. What great people and things Western Canada seems to be hiding over there.. :biggrin:

Cant wait to hear more about this Praire Soul Food and to see how you celebrate the holiday.. I think this post has really started to make me feel like its Christmas.. Have a great week!


Edited by Daniel (log)

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When we go home for Christmas we always get a sleigh ride from our neighbor. (The one who raises horses as opposed to the one who taxidermies gophers.)

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Hey hi Daniel, thanks for the warm greeting. I love road trips as much as you do!

Christmas Traditions Present: The School Christmas Pageant

The School Pageant is one of those quintessentially North American Christmas traditions. Last week I went to my son's first Christmas pageant. It began in the dark, in the school gym with the choir singing a folk song about solstice, and bringing light into the "darkest hour." All the children in the school walking through the audience carrying candles by twos and threes. I was moved to tears. Then the concert continued with the usual quirks and hiccups that make an amateur concert so charming and loveable, and at times, hilarious.

My son's school is made of a diverse cultural population and includes a few special needs kids integrated into the regular classrooms. "Joy to the World" and "The Hannukah Song" were almost played in tune. The curtains opened and closed in sharp jerks and snaps and the principal stood watching proudly in her festive red dress. A single Fresnel hung by the basketball hoop illuminated the grade threes performing an Inuit chant in American Sign Language.

One grade did a rendition of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" complete with numerous sight gags and a little boy in green velvet suit and hair spray-painted to match. Girls in frilly velveteen frocks waved to their parents. My son's kindergarten class sang :"Do You Know Who Hibernates" to the tune of "Do You Know the Muffin Man?". Ullie waved jauntily at me, then left the stage with his finger up his nose. We ended the concert with a group sing along of three popular carols and left to enter the draw for a gift certificate at White Spot on the way out. On the walk home, I told my son how proud I was of him and he expressed concerns that we was thinking of moving out of Vancouver. "You talk about it all the time, mom." Hmmm, I didn't even realize that. He's worried we're going to leave behind all that is familiar to him, and what is still strange to me.

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Looks like a great itinerary, Zuke. May the horses be with you!

Christmas hugs,

Jamie

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Abra, you lived in Regina! I have some really good friends there, and will be performing there next summer and checking out the local food again. I hope you come up and visit us soon to get your cedar jelly.

*Deborah*, Mr. Maw is a hard act to follow. He took us on a first class trip, and this week we'll be flying economy! :biggrin:

What is the Theme of This Blog?

"Take away this pudding, it has no theme."

-Winston Churchill

We are a family who loves themes. When it is my mother's run to host Christmas, she always has one traditional prairie meal and one "theme" meal. The theme of this meal is "Christmas in another culture." I remember one year we had a Danish Christmas and I won the prize in my piece of pudding. Come to think of it, it's luck I didn't choke on the dime she put in the dessert, because it would have just fit the circumference of my trachea. (She took the dime and exchanged it for a box of Callebaut chocolates!) Anyhow, I survived the Danish Christmas meal to go on and cook the chicken mole for Mexican Christmas a few years later. I do remember scouring the Au Claire Market in Calgary for crawfish for the Creole Christmas, and one year we had tortière at our French Canadian Noël.

As an interdisciplinary artist, I love the theatrical elements of birthday parties. My son has inherited the stage bug and now he helps me plan out the "sets" and "costumes" for his party. We decide on the theme months in advance and spend many afternoons hunting for ideas in book stores and thrift shops. Last year I created a knight in shining armor costume, a two-headed dragon piñata, and brightly coloured horses for whipped cream "jousting". We found an enchanted wood in Stanley Park and I assembled a cake shaped like a castle out of Philipino ube purple yam jelly rolls from the Goldilocks Bakery. We even went to a medieval dinner at a farm on Vancouver Island where we were chosen to act as the royal family for the evening. We sat at the head table and could drink all the warm, cheap white wine we wanted. This year's birthday theme was "Super Heros."

This year, decorating for the party was a family affair. The theme was "superheroes". Ullie and I made cartoon thought bubbles and speech bubbles out of cardboard to hang up for decorations. Words like "pop", "arrgh", and "kaboom!" dangled from our chandelier and the lighting fixture above our dining room table. He helped me paint some of the signs and even if they were illegible, I just let it go. We made red and yellow lightening bolts out of bristle board and I spent many evenings adding layers to the Spider Man papier maché piñata. Fortunately Ullie decided he didn't want to wear a costume at this year's party, which saved me the time and energy making one, and the embarrassment of explaining why my son wants to be "Captain America."

Okay, so this year, I'll admit had a bit of help in my effort to stay calm. I went away on a personal retreat on Saltspring Island the week before the birthday party. I had a lot of fun visiting with the parents and the kids had fun letting fly dozens of water balloons, which I dubbed "love bombs" in my post-yoga retreat state of bliss.

This summer my son and I went to a lovely birthday party for one of his friends in Queen Elizabeth Park. We had a picnic lunch, a cake, and the kids ran around the duck ponds. One the way home Ullie looked a bit puzzled. He turned to me and asked "What was the theme, mom?

So the theme of this blog is obviously Christmas with the Zucchini Family. Our son is five, some would say the perfect age for celebrating Christmas, and he loves it almost as much as Halloween.

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"She Bulk" (Feminine Anger Management Specialist) and the Green Goblin.

Peter and I are both artists who love food. Ullie loves to try different kinds of food, and by this he means different kinds of chocolate, yogurt, and bacon.

This Christmas my sister and her husband are hosting us. The theme of this Christmas is making our family's favorite foods and keeping it simple enough to enjoy the new baby, whom I am so excited to meet. We all need time to play with her brother and I need time to catch up on all the episodes of "Six Feet Under" that I missed!

I wanted to have one meal that revolves around bison, since my passion with regards to sustainability is the preservation of natural prairie. Ironically, wholistically raised bison can live in harmony with natural prairie grasses and shrubs, where as plowing up the sod for crops like wheat, canola, and mustard have destroyed much of our natural prairie ecosystem. So let's eat that pemmican!

The form of this blog will be a fugue in three voices: Christmas past, present, and the ghost of Christmas future. What will we be eating for Christmas in ten years?


Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)

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Christmas Tradition Number Two

Part of my survival strategy for this year is to try to practice mindfulness and the rituals I use to stay grounded when the pressure to "perform Christmas" is heavy on my mind. There is a tricky balance to keeping the celebration simple without losing the connection to one's own expectations and dreams of Christmas. For me, much of this revolves around the traditions of food. Every Christmas for three years I have been making a family cookbook to give to close friends and family. It is usually a collection of recipes from family and friends as well as selections from our family's current repertoire. By the time Ullie's ready for college, he'll have a collection of all the family recipes so he can make them for himself.

This year, I've done things a bit differently and created a bit of a "farmer's almanac" type booklet with anecdotes, family photos, and bits of food-related flotsam and jetsam I found floating about on my desk. Collecting all these bits and pieces helps me to focus on celebrating what amazing meals I have enjoyed over the past year. This year's book is called "Super Foods for Super Heroes."

Peter and Ullie are downstairs assembling a few of the cookbooks right now. Brunch has been interrupted by Lego building and gift wrapping.

I had my lovely avocado sandwich, and found that a little Gegenbauer pumpkinseed oil really elevated the sandwich, heightening the herbal notes in the Drunken Goat. Images will come later. (Our photo system's complicated here, so the photos will always be a bit behind the verbal pictures.) You must visit Gegenbauer if you're in Vienna in the Naschmarkt. A very serious woman will ask you to taste before you buy, and there are many levels of "toast" in the types of oil. We've been to Austria a few times and really love it. Careful with the oil, that lovely loden green will stain your clothes to match your lederhosen!

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p.s.: Abra, I'm always up for a chocolate zucchini cake recipe to add to my collection!

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Wow, two local blogs back-to-back! I had been wondering who was going to be blogging Christmas week, and I'm so glad that it turned out to be you and yours! :biggrin: Thanks for a wonderful start. I haven't seen Ullie in so long...he's such a cutie! :wub:

I especially adore your themed Christmas dinners. What a great way to learn abut the food from other cultures.

Do you have a favourite recipe for zucchini cake? That's something I've never tried before. Can't wait to see your baking... :smile:

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Please tell more about Drunken Goat cheese. Dh and I were in State College, PA for a conference he had a couple of months ago. We were getting a few provisions at the Wegman's there, a much nicer grocery than any in our area. He was so intrigued by the Drunken Goat cheese they had. The next day I went back to get a couple more things and bought a small wedge of that to try as a surprise for him. I got back to the hotel and had no cheese in my bag, though it was on my receipt. There was no opportunity to go back to the store. Now and then when we are eating cheese, dh sighs and says, "I'd have liked to taste a drunken goat..." :biggrin: So, tell me if he missed anything.

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Christmas on Fraser Street

I live in a great neighborhood for food-lovers. Hop on the bus one way and in twenty minutes you're in China Town. Hop on the bus going south and you're in the Punjabi market in ten minutes. Yesterday I decided to explore another street known for its ethnic eats: Fraser. I hopped on the bus to 49th and Main, where you'll see these banners.

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Then I hopped the bus to, which takes about seven minutes.

There are a lot of shops like this in the hood:

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I stopped at the the Fraser Delicatessen and picked up a few goodies I'll talk about later.

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Then I bought a few cookies at the European Bakery. The cookie s are too sweet for me, but Ullie loved them, of course.

Spritz Cookies

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Chocolate-covered gingerbread

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Father Christmas cookies

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Edited by Zucchini Mama (log)

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Okay, my server's back up! The jar lids I bought yesterday don't fit my collection of used jars, so there was a change of plans. I made cookies instead: Chocolade Brezeln.

These are pretzel-shaped cookies that are made of a dough that is not very sweet at all. The glaze you put on top lifts them just to the point of desired sweetness. I will pick up some jam lids tonight and make jam tomorrow, and glaze the cookies for the party.

The oysters were out of this world. Peter put a bit of wilted spinach, and tiny slivers of prosciutto, the drunken goat, and roasted garlic on each one, and then put them into the oven until they were piping hot. I like my oysters hot and barely cooked. I soaked up the extra juices with a croissant-very decadent! We drank a Freixenet Brut with a touch of Marley Loganberry wine in it to give it a subtle kiss of the raspberry-cranberry tartness.

Also, Zucchini Mama needed her chocolate, so I made some hot chocolate with a part of Dagobar chocolate bar melted in milk. I have been going through all the Dagobar flavours and doing this. So far I've done the lavender, the roseberry and todays xocolatl (dark chocolate, chilies, and nibs), which was fantastic with a real bite. The sun's already leaving us with a lavendar sky. Where did the time go? Evaporated. I will post this afternoon's photos after dinner late tonight.

Lori in PA, You spell your name the same way I do! I like that drunken goat. I'm going to taste it against some Manchego so I can give you a better description. It seems like quite a versatile cheese. Peter is lactose intolerant, so we go for the goat and the sheep. I LOVE pecorino made in Chase B.C.

Ling, I love baking. It really grounds me. I'll leave you all with a story about my oven. Remember in his last story Jamie talked about his mom's Moffat oven?

The Hole in the Heart of the Kitchen

I've lost my oven. The hearth at the center of my kitchen has been taken away, and a cheap imposter has taken her place. We bought this circa 1913 house, about five and a half years ago. The former owner insisted on taking one set of kitchen appliances with her, but she left us a big old gas range, circa 1959. It was sturdy, dependable, and the style of the oven fit right into the vintage kitchenware I have collected over the years. It was a simple range, without a clock, timer, or light. Her shoulders were rounded and sturdy, like those of a strong woman who has weathered many storms. The sloped corners mimic the back of vintage porcelain sink I insisted on keeping intact. She was simply elegant. There was a neat sign pinned to her smooth white breast that said "Moffat" in wide Art Deco letters.

This summer my oven stopped working. Four months later, motivated by the approaching Christmas cookie season Peter called a repairman. The guy in the monkey suit took one look at our beautiful oven and said "That girl's too old. We haven't been able to get parts for that model for years." I took it upon myself to track down the repairman who would give it a better shot. I explained my situation to the receptionist with whom I had a few terse telephone exchanges to get the service organized. I became that woman with the old Moffat. "Hi, I'm the woman with the old Moffat and I thought you were supposed to service my oven today." Anyway, the repairman said he could get us a newer model, a 1965, for the same amount of money it would cost for a gas valve on the old one. I was pleased, thinking the newer model would look just about the same, but maybe with a couple of extra cute antiquated features like built in salt and pepper shaker holders.

As we walked home from school the next morning, I told Ullie how excited I was that we were getting this new appliance. He started to cry, and say how much he loved the old one. He doesn't like things that seem like permanent fixtures in his life to change. I chuckled inside at his sense of attachment, but when we arrived home, I felt the same way he did, only worse. The "new" old stove had harsh pointy edges, the metal was thinner and cheaper than our old Moffat. It had smaller and has rusted edges. I realized that in the old Moffat even the burners had lovely rounded corners. There is no beautiful brand name, and the back of the stove has an ugly black hole and two bolts where a clock and timer used to be. I felt sick. I felt disoriented and sad, so sad. A deep sadness entered my heart that was too deep to call mine alone. That's when it occurred to me that another woman who used to live in this house was touching me with her loss.

She had left the house long ago, driven out by an abusive husband that "used to walk around the neighborhood with a butcher knife." I'm sure this house has many stories, and hers is likely the most tragic. I have never felt any bad "vibes" inside these walls. One day I found a paper doll of a young woman with her arms raised in fear, but I felt that the people who used to live here had all moved on. The day we took out the oven, her oven, I think we removed what had been anchor in the woman's storms. The oven had provided the mother with a means of self-comfort, solitude and nourishment in the midst of her troubles. I had been lucky enough to receive this oven, this blessed oven, and use it to ground me and nourish our own small family for five years. I wanted to embrace it and thank it for sustaining me, but now it was gone, and I resented the usurper that had taken its place.

I waited for the repairman to bring me a missing rack. As he turned to leave, I told him I wanted the old oven back. I tried to articulate how I felt, but was struck dumb by the necessity to speak in purely practical terms. He gently explained to me that it was cost prohibitive to keep the old stove and unless it was a collectible, the investment was not worth it. The parts were too expensive. I choked down my sadness and accepted the truth. "I threw in a fifty dollar oven rack there too, he says. "You're gettin' a good deal." I know. I know. How do you explain it's not about the money? It's about the memories. Forgetting to put the sugar in my son's first birthday cake. Roasting our first truffled turkey and coming come from church "seeing" the fragrance seep from all the cracks in the house as if it were painted in light. Warming bottles, whisking hot chocolate, popping popcorn, making play dough, paella, risotto. The oven is the hearth, the heart of our home. I will miss the old Moffat, but now I guess have a new machine that needs some TLC. This is the start of a new chapter in our lives: new adventures, new disasters, and a new appreciation for the warmth, the fire and the food.

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A photo of the oven the day before they took it away.

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Hello from one Prairie Gal to another! I love your writing and look forward to your week. Something tells me your holiday celebrations will be quite different from mine - can't wait to share it with you.

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Hi, Zuke! I've enjoyed your posts on the Cooking board very much, but I've never read anything as reflective as this. I'm glad you agreed to be a blogger.

I'm curious about which part of Russia your ancestors are from -- or was it just your neighbors when you were growing up who were of Russian German heritage?

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Christmas Tradition Number Two

Part of my survival strategy for this year is to try to practice mindfulness and the rituals I use to stay grounded when the pressure to "perform Christmas" is heavy on my mind. There is a tricky balance to keeping the celebration simple without losing the connection to one's own expectations and dreams of Christmas. For me, much of this revolves around the traditions of food. Every Christmas for three years I have been making a family cookbook to give to close friends and family. It is usually a collection of recipes from family and friends as well as selections from our family's current repertoire. By the time Ullie's ready for college, he'll have a collection of all the family recipes so he can make them for himself.

This year, I've done things a bit differently and created a bit of a "farmer's almanac" type booklet with anecdotes, family photos, and bits of food-related flotsam and jetsam I found floating about on my desk. Collecting all these bits and pieces helps me to focus on celebrating what amazing meals I have enjoyed over the past year. This year's book is called "Super Foods for Super Heroes."

Peter and Ullie are downstairs assembling a few of the cookbooks right now. Brunch has been interrupted by Lego building and gift wrapping.

I had my lovely avocado sandwich, and found that a little Gegenbauer pumpkinseed oil really elevated the sandwich, heightening the herbal notes in the Drunken Goat. Images will come later. (Our photo system's complicated here, so the photos will always be a bit behind the verbal pictures.) You must visit Gegenbauer if you're in Vienna in the Naschmarkt. A very serious woman will ask you to taste before you buy, and there are many levels of "toast" in the types of oil. We've been to Austria a few times and really love it. Careful with the oil, that lovely loden green will stain your clothes to match your lederhosen!

gallery_29428_2164_2556.jpeg

p.s.: Abra, I'm always up for a chocolate zucchini cake recipe to add to my collection!

Zuke! How can I thank you for posting the picture of the Gegenbauer stand at the Naschmarkt? I was just talking about this very thing the other day over HERE in the Adventures in Eating forum. Awesome photo. It's hard to describe that stand (I understand they also have a regular shop somewhere else in Vienna) to people because I've never seen anything like it anywhere else in the world.

I'm already enjoying this blog so much! I look forward to sharing your family holiday with you. And the little one is just darling! :wub:

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...Mr. Maw is a hard act to follow. He took us on a first class trip, and this week we'll be flying economy! :biggrin:

Zuke, no blog that's this rich in creativity and love could ever fly economy class! I'm greatly looking forward to discovering the surprises that your week ahead holds... knowing you, I'm certain that there'll be plenty. :biggrin:

From the Mouse House to the Zucchini Patch, warmest of wishes for a fabulous holiday season. And a special hello from Noah to Ullie. :wink:

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I agree with Mooshmouse. Whether it's first class or "economy" class, it's still a CLASS act!

Thank for blogging during this busy time of the year. I'm sensing the Gemütlichkeit already.

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