Some families watch sports when they get together for the holidays; some play sports; some sleep; some fight. Mine talks about food and politics. Since politics aren't really my cup of tea (no lectures please! I'm just not that into them.), I usually focus on the food conversations. Now we all know that my Achilles heel this year for Thanksgiving was the dressing. I had separate conversations with my aunt Colleen and my grandma about dressing. Both said they add more liquid than the recipe states. Grandma also omits something but for the life of me, I can't remember what it is. This year she added small apple chunks to it. Grandma also pops her dressing in the microwave on high for 5 minutes to get it started. Colleen does all of her prep work for the dressing the night before so Thanksgiving (or Christmas Day) is less hectic. Great tips that I will surely keep in mind for next year. I will have successful dressing if it's the death of me!
My third food conversation was with my uncle Mark and my mom. Every year Uncle Mark makes divinity. It is a very rich Irish dessert made mainly with sugar and corn syrup. (There is more to it but I don't have the recipe right in front of me at the moment.) Mom had tried to make divinity once years ago and flubbed it. Divinity is a very picky thing to make. Uncle Mark learned how to make it from his mom and has modified his recipe a little to suit him. The recipe can be made primarily using a standing mixer. However the batter will start to rise out of the mixer and you must continue to mix it by hand for 15 minutes. This is usually when Uncle Mark's mom turned it over to him. I would like to learn how to make this. It's one of Mom's favorite desserts and a tradition in our family. (As are Uncle Mark's bourbon balls... but that is a recipe and post for another time.) Perhaps next year I will ask Uncle Mark if I can come to Omaha to witness the making of the divinity. I enjoy learning other people's family traditions and making them a part of my own. Plus it would be good bonding time with an uncle I hold dear.
Also during that conversation we talked about traditional Norwegian and Swedish food. Our family is neither but the area my mom grew up in has a lot of Norwegians and Swedes and Scandinavians. It was a fun conversation. We talked about lefsa, lutefisk and a whole bunch of other desserts and foods that I can't spell. Steve is Scandinavian and German so I'm going to try to learn how to make some traditional foods. However not lutefisk. If you're interested in learning more about lutefisk, check out this wikipedia entry. Here's what I know about lutefisk: it is a process of aging fish and it reeks to high-heaven. Steve has never tried it and I'm certainly not going to.