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eG Foodblog: SuzySushi - A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs


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My breakfast is different each morning. But I'm not a big breakfast-eater and today I sampled so many things at the farmers' market that I wasn't really hungry when I got home. Usually I start my day with coffee or iced coffee -- decaf espresso, brewed strong in a one-cup filter -- with a splash of skim milk. Lion Diamond Head Espresso is my favorite brand. Sometimes, instead of hot coffee, I add evaporated milk and a heavy dose of Splenda to make mock Vietnamese iced coffee.

What? They grow coffee beans at Diamond Head? LOL! Nice to see you blog, Suzy.

From the implication of your online monikor, I assume that you like sushi too?

As for "poi" taking some getting used to... I think it highly depends on one's upbringing. Much like other cultures not liking steamed rice because it is bland. To me being a native Chinese, I would never get used to eating grits either.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I'm running behind schedule in my annual cookie-baking assembly line. I intended to make three types of cookies to give out as gifts, but am scaling back my ambitions since I got a late start.

I’m going to sign off for a while so I can take care of some household chores and make the pistachio cranberry icebox cookies that Candy Wong (aka ComeUndone) wrote about here in the Christmas cookies thread. I'm substituting candied orange peel for the pistachios because Wendy is allergic to nuts. My presentation won't be as fancy as Candy's, either. Maybe next year!

Meanwhile, to whet your appetites, here are my famous chocolate crinkles sitting out to cool last night.

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Back later! Hope those of you in earlier time zones are enjoying a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

Merry Christmas!!!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Don't worry about bogarting my blog (where did that term come from, anyway?).

As long as you asked:

Don't Bogart That Joint is a song from the 60's movie Easy Rider.

Bogart, as a verb has taken on have several meanings, all roughly associated with the above.

SB (remembers it well :cool: )

Huh! It's been so long since I've seen the movie that I didn't remember the phrase!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Okay, the dough for the cranberry-orange shortbread cookies is mixed and chilling in the fridge. The directions said to roll it into a log with the help of plastic wrap or waxed paper, so of course the first thing I thought of was shaping it with the bamboo mat used to roll sushi! LOL! Necessity is the mother of invention. . .

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I need to set up the gingerbread house in 3D before Wendy and Daniel can decorate it, but my mixing bowls and beaters are going through the dishwasher.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd take you on a tour of some of the Christmas decorations around our neighborhood and in downtown Honolulu, which is the focal point for holiday displays. (I actually took most of the pictures yesterday, because I knew I wouldn't have time today. Is that cheating?)

Hawaii might not have white Christmases, but we go all-out with Christmas decorations. Life here is like living in a big small town. For instance, high school football games are covered on TV! One of the favorite holiday pastimes is driving around the island to admire the local Christmas lights and displays. Before the holidays, the newspapers even print neighborhood-by-neighborhood lists of which street addresses have the best ones.

We love to drive through town with the windows down, the whole family singing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. Traditional ones like "Jingle Bells," "Deck the Halls," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Kids' songs like "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus." And my personal favorite, "Christmas is Coming" (sung the way I learned it in a minor key):

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.

Put another penny in the old man's hat.

If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.

If you haven't got a ha'penny, God bless you!

This year, Wendy taught us another carol she learned in school (sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells"):

Dashing o'er the foam

In an outrigger canoe,

You go so far from home

To see what you can do.

You swim upon the surf,

You sail upon the sea.

You come back feeling very fit

To the beach at Waikiki.

Oh, kani kani pele, kani kani pele

Kani kani all the way.

Oh what fun it is to say

"Aloha" every day!

Kani kani pele, kani kani pele

Kani kani all the way.

Oh what fun it is to have

A tropic Christmas day!

[Edited for typo]

Edited by SuzySushi (log)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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The biggest holiday attraction is "Honolulu City Lights," a month-long extravaganza downtown. Now in its 22nd year, this year's celebration kicked off December 2nd with the official lighting of the city's Christmas tree (a 70-foot Norfolk pine cut from a private yard in my neighborhood!) and an electric light parade with 35 floats and 15 marching bands.

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The tree

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And at dusk

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Here's the humongous barefoot Santa dabbling his feet in the fountain outside Honolulu Hale (pronounced HAH-lay), Honolulu's City Hall (hale means "house" in Hawaiian). He's making a "shaka" sign -- a local gesture that means "hang loose" -- and is accompanied by his muu-muu'd wife Tutu Mele ("Aunty Merry," "aunty" being a fond term of respect for any older woman in the Islands).

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View of Honolulu Hale

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Penguins relaxing in the fountain with a cool drink. They were here before the movie "Happy Feet."

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Here’s the entrance to Honolulu Hale

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The lobby of Honolulu Hale becomes a "Santa's Village," forested with trees trimmed by city employees in an annual competition.

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Other large outdoor displays also dot the municipal area downtown: Da (the) First Noel

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And, back in my neighborhood, reindeer on the lawn outside my condo complex

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A single-family house in my neighborhood

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SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Hi, Suzysushi--really enjoying your blog so far. The shaka-flashin' Santa is fabulous. :laugh:

Re: personal holiday traditions: I grew up with extended family gatherings for "the holidays" (my non-religious mixed Jewish/gentile relatives just lumped everything in all together). My immediate family also lit a menorah for Hanukah, and also had potato latkes one night out of the eight. But we had no other specific food traditions.

A couple of Christmases when I was a kid I tried my hand at making spritz cookies, more as an excuse to fool around with a cookie press than anything else. But the kind of frenzies of baking many folks go through every holiday season is something I've never experienced firsthand. I do love fruitcake, though--the denser the better. Never could quite grasp why the stuff inspires such dread in certain quarters ... :wink:

My ex came from a Midwestern family of Scotch/Irish/German heritage, and their Christmas food imperatives kind of drove her nutz; and then as an adult she discovered sugar really messed with her head. So while we were together I got lots of stories about the forced march through the stollen-making but no stollen. :rolleyes:

All throughout my adulthood, partnered or otherwise, I have generally gotten together with various friends wherever I happen to be living at the time for some kind of holiday food doings. These past few years, I've gone to the Christmas day potluck at my UU church. It's a nice homey gathering with some fascinating folks, many of whom are darn good cooks. And they're a fun appreciative crowd to cook for too.

As a matter of fact, once I finish this current surf through eGullet I need to hit the kitchen and make my contribution to the potluck: vegetarian borscht, starting from the Moosewood Cookbook recipe and fiddled with in various ways (think I'm going to roast at least the beets and onion). It's been unusually chilly here in San Diego too the past couple of weeks--we actually had frost at night in a couple of places not so far out of the city--so I was really feeling in a hearty winters soup kind of mood. Which will make it extra-cool to see your tropical holiday spreads.

My special request: when you visit the North Shore, or wherever else you go, if you could show us some serious "local kind grindz," I (and I bet mmm-yoso!) would be most thrilled. Loco moko, spam musubi, saimin ... and oh yes, the poke! Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like raw fish. :biggrin:

Thanks, and rock on!

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And, back in my neighborhood, reindeer on the lawn outside my condo complex

gallery_28660_4041_220120.jpg

I'm so glad it's YOU!!! We haven't had any Winter yet, so it's not sun-dep, but the thought of all those flowers and mountains and the GREEN of it---what a treat!!!

Perhaps it's the farawayness of Hawaii, or something to do with the lack of snow, but those reindeer on the lawn are having a TERRIBLE time trying to pull that sleigh backward through the grass---no wonder they're straining every muscle.

Is that just a snowless Christmas thing?

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And, back in my neighborhood, reindeer on the lawn outside my condo complex

gallery_28660_4041_220120.jpg

I'm so glad it's YOU!!! We haven't had any Winter yet, so it's not sun-dep, but the thought of all those flowers and mountains and the GREEN of it---what a treat!!!

Perhaps it's the farawayness of Hawaii, or something to do with the lack of snow, but those reindeer on the lawn are having a TERRIBLE time trying to pull that sleigh backward through the grass---no wonder they're straining every muscle.

Is that just a snowless Christmas thing?

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

You know, it never occurred to me to take a closer look. Ya' see what living in Hawaii will do to you?!? I'm sure the maintenance guys who assembled it have never lived in a cold climate, and it's entirely possible they've never seen snow!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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HA HA HA! YES! Someone else that can appreciate and understand what it's like to have xmas in Hawai'i! I think I'm now twice as full looking at all of your photos of cookies and produce! (Just came back from a party at aunty's house, and got my fill of ahi poke, raw crab poke, shrimp, etc., etc.)

Do you enjoy the farmer's markets here as compared to when you were nliving on the mainland? Are there any local foods that you still won't eat? Has your cooking changed tremondously since being here?

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Just checking in before I go to bed. This has been a l-o-o-o-o-ng but productive day. I got the gifts tied with ribbons and the rest of the cookies baked and packed up for gifts. . .

The cranberry orange shortbread

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The canisters of home-baked cookies awaiting their recipients

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Daniel and I assembled the gingerbread house, from a pre-baked Wilton kit. Would you believe this is the first gingerbread house I've ever made?

Daniel is putting on the roof of the gingerbread house. Yes, that's a real candy cane he's wearing as an earring. (He's a professional tattoo artist and body piercer, in case you're wondering.)

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Daniel and Wendy in the kitchen. You can get an idea of how tiny it is -- more about my kitchen later this week.

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Dinner tonight was just the four of us, sitting in the living room around the electric wok, eating Swiss fondue. That fusion would horrify both my Asian and my Swiss friends. I told you we're not traditional! :laugh:

Here I am stirring it in a figure 8, the way a Swiss friend insisted one must do

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Wendy wanted to be the first to take a bite

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Tuffy came in to join us at dinner. He thinks he's a person. (No, he’s not eating fondue, just tidbits of bread.)

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Either he's following the conversation intently, or he's watching every bite!

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Here's Daniel again

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And Tuffy getting an after-dinner hug. How can you resist a face like that?

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For dessert, we had store-bought fruitcake from Costco and fresh clementines.

Happy Holidays from Our Family to Yours!

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SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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HA HA HA!  YES!  Someone else that can appreciate and understand what it's like to have xmas in Hawai'i!  I think I'm now twice as full looking at all of your photos of cookies and produce!  (Just came back from a party at aunty's house, and got my fill of ahi poke, raw crab poke, shrimp, etc., etc.) 

Do you enjoy the farmer's markets here as compared to when you were nliving on the mainland? Are there any local foods that you still won't eat?  Has your cooking changed tremondously since being here?

Whoa, what a lot of questions to answer! Yes, I love the farmers' markets, but I still miss the one on Union Square in NYC, especially the fresh peaches and apples, which -- as you know but readers from other places may not -- aren't grown here. When peaches were in season, I used to be able to smell their fragrance from two blocks away! I'm glad to see more variety coming into the farmers' markets here. They've really blossomed (sic) over the past few years.

Hmmmmnn... local foods I won't eat. You mean like Spam? :laugh::laugh:

My cooking has changed over the years, but I can't really separate out the "being in Hawaii" part from the changes that come from being married with a family rather than single, or the general culinary evolution that's taken place over the years.

I've always been interested in "foreign" (and particularly Asian) foods, ever since I was a child. I sometimes joke that I must've been Japanese in a previous life. I was imbued early on with a love of Japanese culture. My uncle studied Japanese art back in the 1930s, and I grew up hearing family tales of his exploits. My dad taught me how to use chopsticks when I was eight years old, and I've had Asian-American friends since grade school. So I'm delighted that so much Asian culture is available in Hawaii, and I try to take advantage of it.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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And a Happy Christmas morning to Y'all!!! My whole household is still sleeping (save for KittyDear, who has been up to the VERY first mischief in all her long life---I found a book almost shredded of its wrapping paper beneath the tree), and I came over HERE where it's bright and WARM.

I LOVE your Christmas Eve dinner---gathered close for a dip into the communal bowl. That's a dining experience long in every culture, and it's lovely to see the shared laughter and closeness as you taste the rich warmth of the fondue.

We did our own dipping via a big ladle, into the huge bowl of long-cooked pinto beans, ladling it over Calrose and topping it with our own choices of finely chopped onion, hot sauce, Lea & Perrins, soy sauce, sriracha, or sambal. We took a beans and cornbread meal and made it a celebration, for many tastes.

Thank you for taking all the time during this holiday---holiday blogs are HARD!!!

And go get me a Tuffy hug.

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Suzy, what a treat, all those green trees and sunshine, the adorable penguins, smiling people in short sleeves and summerdresses, your gorgeous cookies, sweet Tuffy and your beautiful family! Thank you for sharing your non-traditionaal Christmas with us, I'm very much looking forward to the rest of this week. It's cold and grey here in Amsterdam and your pictures bring me some much-neede cheer!

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We'll probably have some ahi poke later in the week. . .  :smile:
Awesome! The Atlantic tuna available to us just isn't the same.
How long did your wife live in Honolulu?
Probably a year, but she passed through Honolulu regularly for a couple of years afterwards.
To make a long story short, how I wound up in Hawaii is, my husband was living here when we first met. (He's originally from L.A.)
Cool, thanks. Feel free to tell the food-related parts of the long story, if you like. :smile:
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Looking at the photos I can't help but wonder why everyone doesn't move to Hawaii?

SB (me in particular) :huh:

A T-shirt that I wished I owned, which I spied on a homeless person nestled between the columns of the (former) Beneficial Savings Bank on 12th Street this past June, read:

"Those who cannot handle winter don't deserve summer."

That said, I think that having Santa and Mrs. Claus hang loose in the fountain in front of City Hall might be a forgivable excuse for not dealing with winter. :smile: You weren't kidding, Suzy, when you said that Honolulu goes all-out at Christmastime!

Edited to add: And a Merry Christmas to all of you!

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Maraschino cherries are NOT Hawaiian!  :wink:

I know, but the ham and pineapple needed some colour. BTW, "Hawaiian" pizza was my favourite kind of pizza as a kid...one local place served it with BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce. What a treat... :wink:

judiu: I didn't serve SPAM, but I also did a French project at school where you were supposed to make up a new, exciting club and try to recruit your fellow classmates. I set up a "SPAM carving" club and carved sports cars and even a human head out of SPAM...such a weird idea now when I think back on it, but my teacher loved it!

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Maraschino cherries are NOT Hawaiian!  :wink:

I know, but the ham and pineapple needed some colour. BTW, "Hawaiian" pizza was my favourite kind of pizza as a kid...one local place served it with BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce. What a treat... :wink:

judiu: I didn't serve SPAM, but I also did a French project at school where you were supposed to make up a new, exciting club and try to recruit your fellow classmates. I set up a "SPAM carving" club and carved sports cars and even a human head out of SPAM...such a weird idea now when I think back on it, but my teacher loved it!

Sorry to hijack SuzySushi's blog, but Ling, you had a very exotic school life indeed! :biggrin:

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Maraschino cherries are NOT Hawaiian!  :wink:

I know, but the ham and pineapple needed some colour. BTW, "Hawaiian" pizza was my favourite kind of pizza as a kid...one local place served it with BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce. What a treat... :wink:

judiu: I didn't serve SPAM, but I also did a French project at school where you were supposed to make up a new, exciting club and try to recruit your fellow classmates. I set up a "SPAM carving" club and carved sports cars and even a human head out of SPAM...such a weird idea now when I think back on it, but my teacher loved it!

Do you know about Seattle's annual SPAM carving festival? (I think it still exists.)

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Mele Kalikimaka! That's the Hawaiian pronunciation of "Merry Christmas," there being no "R" or "S" in the Hawaiian language. Mele is also the Hawaiian word for "song." It's a fortuitous homonym because "Mele Kalikimaka" is the title of a holiday song that was made popular by Bing Crosby in 1950, recorded again by Jimmy Buffett a decade ago, and just released again by Bette Midler (who was born in Hawaii) this Christmas.

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Another of the Christmas displays downtown. The phrase Hauoli Makahiki Hou means "Happy New Year."

You know, when I was walking Tuffy this morning, I took a good look at the reindeer display on the condo complex lawn and the sleigh is now facing forward. :raz: Someone must've commented about it to the management. Here's the proof! You can choose which one to remember Hawaii by.

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Our guests will be arriving about 1:30 pm for Christmas dinner. Family friends: a couple with their two daughters, and the wife's mom, who is visiting from the Philippines.

On today's menu:

Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with gravy. The beef is from a recipe I got off epicurious.com: Roast New York Strip Loin with Garlic-Herb Crust. Before breakfast this morning, I prepared the rub, and the roast is now resting in the fridge.

It will be served with a side dish of sauteed green beans with capers and cherry tomatoes. I hope I remember to set out the horseradish!

I was going to bake an apple crisp (sweetened with Splenda and spiced with candied ginger), but our friends emailed to say they’re bringing three (count 'em!) sugar-free pies from a new bakery called Sweet Nothings that recently opened in midtown Honolulu.

The beverages will be Martinelli's sparkling non-alcoholic cider, Hansen's diet sodas, diet Pepsi, and a bottle of Havermeyer Piesporter Goldtrophen Riesling Spatlese. Yes, I'm aware that white wine doesn't complement roast beef. But most of the people who will be here today are not wine-drinkers, and this makes a small glass palatable.

My breakfast this morning is a bagel with Chavrie goat cheese, and iced Bigelow green tea with peach flavor, eaten while sitting at my computer.

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Everyone else is still sleeping. We were up late last night, opening our family gifts. Wendy scored really big. :laugh: One of my gifts was a much-wanted copy of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

I'll respond to a few posts, then will try to catch a nap before the roast needs to go in the oven.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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What?  They grow coffee beans at Diamond Head?  LOL!

From the implication of your online monikor, I assume that you like sushi too?

1) Not that I know of! However, they do grow coffee on Oahu's North Shore. I hope to try some for this blog.

2) Well, "sushi" is my middle name :wink: -- and my husband and I got together partly because he likes sushi, too. (The full story will come out later in my blog, when I have more time to write.)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Hi, Suzysushi--really enjoying your blog so far. The shaka-flashin' Santa is fabulous. :laugh:

Re: personal holiday traditions: I grew up with extended family gatherings for "the holidays" (my non-religious mixed Jewish/gentile relatives just lumped everything in all together). My immediate family also lit a menorah for Hanukah, and also had potato latkes one night out of the eight. But we had no other specific food traditions.

A couple of Christmases when I was a kid I tried my hand at making spritz cookies, more as an excuse to fool around with a cookie press than anything else. But the kind of frenzies of baking many folks go through every holiday season is something I've never experienced firsthand. I do love fruitcake, though--the denser the better. Never could quite grasp why the stuff inspires such dread in certain quarters ... :wink:

My ex came from a Midwestern family of Scotch/Irish/German heritage, and their Christmas food imperatives kind of drove her nutz; and then as an adult she discovered sugar really messed with her head. So while we were together I got lots of stories about the forced march through the stollen-making but no stollen. :rolleyes:

All throughout my adulthood, partnered or otherwise, I have generally gotten together with various friends wherever I happen to be living at the time for some kind of holiday food doings. These past few years, I've gone to the Christmas day potluck at my UU church. It's a nice homey gathering with some fascinating folks, many of whom are darn good cooks. And they're a fun appreciative crowd to cook for too.

As a matter of fact, once I finish this current surf through eGullet I need to hit the kitchen and make my contribution to the potluck: vegetarian borscht, starting from the Moosewood Cookbook recipe and fiddled with in various ways (think I'm going to roast at least the beets and onion). It's been unusually chilly here in San Diego too the past couple of weeks--we actually had frost at night in a couple of places not so far out of the city--so I was really feeling in a hearty winters soup kind of mood. Which will make it extra-cool to see your tropical holiday spreads.

My special request: when you visit the North Shore, or wherever else you go, if you could show us some serious "local kind grindz," I (and I bet mmm-yoso!) would be most thrilled. Loco moko, spam musubi, saimin ... and oh yes, the poke! Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like raw fish. :biggrin:

Thanks, and rock on!

Thanks, Ellen! You got me thinking about my own lack of holiday traditions growing up, and how it's so important to me to make my own. My parents were atheists, and we didn't celebrate any holidays except Thanksgiving. They also did very little entertaining. Consequently, the concepts of baking cookies to distribute to friends, having people over for big holiday dinners, etc. wasn't even on my radar screen until I was in high school and got invited to friends' homes.

I remember one Christmas dinner at a Black friend's house. The living room was elegantly decorated with a tall, shimmering aluminum tree. Her parents served roast pork and homemade eggnog laced with brandy -- yes, to a group of teenage girls. :laugh:

Another time, I was invited to a Polish friend's house where I don't recall what we ate for dinner, but the kitchen table was laden with all the baked goods her mom had made.

When I was single and living in NYC, I began hosting Thanksgiving dinners for "waifs and strays" -- friends who had no family in the city, my ESL students (English-as-a-Second-Language, which I tutored as a volunteer). I usually got invited to other people's Christmas celebrations.

My husband's experience was entirely the opposite. His parents were big on semi-formal Christmas dinners, standing rib roast and everyone gathered around the piano singing Christmas carols.

So over the years, we've been forging our own family traditions.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I LOVE your Christmas Eve dinner---gathered close for a dip into the communal bowl.  That's a dining experience long in every culture, and it's lovely to see the shared laughter and closeness as you taste the rich warmth of the fondue.

We did our own dipping via a big ladle, into the huge bowl of long-cooked pinto beans, ladling it over Calrose and topping it with our own choices of finely chopped onion, hot sauce, Lea & Perrins, soy sauce, sriracha, or sambal.  We took a beans and cornbread meal and made it a celebration, for many tastes.

Thank you for taking all the time during this holiday---holiday blogs are HARD!!!

Yes, that's what we were thinking. It makes us think about sitting around the hearth, in the absence of a fireplace in Hawaii.

Hooo-wee!!! The whole process of blogging in real time is giving me a whole new appreciation for eGullet bloggers! It's hard to experience the events, take and upload photos, write everything up, and post the links all in one day! Kind of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time! :laugh:

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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