Saturday, December 31, 2011

Purple Palace and Conversing Food Style

This past Christmas I acquired a few purple items for my kitchen and had 3 food related conversations in 2 days.  (Is anyone surprised by this?)  I stopped by my second mommy's house on the way to Grandma's for Christmas. While there I got to see Randy and Nancy, Jen, Shane, Cole and Karson and Ryan and Jared.  I rarely get to see all of the Janssens together and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Growing up I was usually at the Janssens' house a couple times a week.  I love them to bits.  Nancy gave me (drum roll please!) a plum Fiesta Ware spoon rest and a plum Fiesta Ware salt and pepper shaker set.  My first pieces of Fiesta Ware! Yesterday we went to Sioux Falls to have a small family Christmas while my in-laws where driving through on their way to St. Cloud to visit Steve's grandma.  We exchanged Christmas presents at Nathan's after supper.  My mother-in-law gave me a purple apron and dark purple plastic plates and forks.  With the plastic-ware was a note that read: "Psst--It's not Fiesta Ware.  If you don't say anything maybe nobody will notice the difference."  I told Linda that I could use them for a fiesta.  I appreciated that Linda was contributing to my purple kitchen and her sense of humor about doing so.  I told Steve that we can save them and if the Vikings get into the Super Bowl, we can use them then.  His response: "It's not looking good this year."  So maybe we'll just use them when I don't want to do dishes someday.

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.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Purple Kitchen Becoming Reality

       As many of you know Steve and I have been house-hunting.  We have found the perfect house for us.  Built in 1900 with 4 bedrooms and technically 3 bathrooms (the third is in the basement).  An updated eat-in kitchen and a formal dining room.  It has the fancy woodwork from years past that newer houses lack.  Doesn't this house have me written all over it?  We closed on the house yesterday.  Steve's birthday was Thursday so I like to joke that it's his birthday present.  But in reality, it's a present for both of us.  We've been wanting a house for a long time and are excited to get in.  My parents are coming to help us move and paint.  Nathan is already here to help.  The paint has been purchased along with my stove.  I get a brand new stove!  Although it has been stressful to pick out the appliances, it has been fun too.  I'm excited to see my dream kitchen come together and will be posting pictures as soon as it's done.  It will be nice to finally be able to cook and bake in a big space.  In our apartment, we were always moving things on the counter to make room for something.  It was a hassle and we are so glad to be rid of it.