3 Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas to all!

In honor of the day, I thought I’d share a few of our favorite traditions for celebrating the holiday:

Luminarias

So simple, so beautiful! You take paper bags and tea candles (cheap) and sand (ubiquitous), and put them together to make lights. Then, line Mary and Joseph’s path to the inn – and the path to Christmas Eve mass. This is a lovely New Mexican tradition!

Plum Pudding

Being Anglophiles, it was only a matter of time before we tried this Christmas treat mentioned in so many seasonal British stories. And it’s worth it! Full of spice and plums (raisins) and love, it is quintessential Christmas. (I use butter rather than suet, and it turns out fine!)

We don’t end Christmas on the 25th

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Seriously, try it! Some of the best fun is to be had after the stress and expectations of the day are over. Plus, if you’ve maybe forgotten a gift or two, there are the post-Christmas sales to hit. After all, traditionally, the season isn’t over until Epiphany (or 3 Kings Day), which is January 6th! I love Christmas so much that I would rather extend it than call it over after all the presents are opened!

I hope that you all have a blessed and wonderful holiday weekend!

-Abigail-

Sunday Random Recipe: Turkey Posole

One thing everyone complains about is post-Thanksgiving turkey (kind of ironic, since shouldn’t we be thankful for our turkey bounty?). It’s been over a week since the turkey was smoked, and maybe there’s a little meat left in the fridge – not to mention the bones in the freezer. What’s to be done? Posole, of course!

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Posole (also known as hominy if you’re weird) is corn that has had horrible things done to it, which results in an interesting chewy kernel. Here in New Mexico, we like to turn it into a scrumptious stew, often with pork; but smoked turkey has the perfect intense flavor to make a rich and satisfying bowl. This is one of our favorite Christmas-time recipes. Here’s how we do it!:

The Stock

First, the turkey bones lend their flavor, which is too smoky and turkey-ish to work well with many soups, to a stock.

  • Turkey bones (waste nothing!)
  • 1 large onion, chopped roughly
  • 4-6 garlic cloves (to taste – we like a lot of garlic!), minced
  • 2 roughly chopped carrots
  • 3 roughly chopped celery stocks
  • Dry herbs: Parsley, oregano, celery seed, 2 bay leaves. Sprinkle in generously!
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (this helps draw calcium from the bones – plus adds an accent of citrusy tang). Or a couple of dashes of apple cider vinegar.

Cover with water, and let simmer for a few hours or in a crockpot overnight. After this, stir in salt and pepper to taste (at least 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt). Strain the gunk, horrible bones and veggies out of the liquid. At this point, whatever meat that you missed in your first go-over will be much easier to pick off the bones.

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The Stew

Now that you have an amazing (often cloudy) and fragrant stock, you can start on the posole:

Return the stock to the stock pot (or crockpot). Add:

  • 2 pounds of posole (frozen). Canned hominy can substituted, if it’s easier to find.
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • dried oregano
  • a sprinkle of dry parsley
  • 1 tsp. powdered cumin
  • red chili powder (medium). Now, different people tolerate different levels of heat. If you like it spicy, add 1-2 tablespoons. If you just want a hint of authenticity, sprinkle in about a teaspoon.

Let this simmer for an hour, or as long as specified on your package of posole (hominy) – if you’re using canned hominy, cut this down to half an hour. Stir in during the last 20 minutes of cooking:

  • Chopped leftover turkey (about 2-4 cups, or whatever you happen to have left in the fridge)

Taste, and adjust seasoning.

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Now it is hot, scrumptious, and ready to eat! Serve in big bowls, or cozyWIN_20151206_14_05_57_Pro mugs, with extra hot sauce (Cervantes Red Chile Sauce is our favorite for this), sour cream, and hot tortillas. Tamales are Posole’s perfect partner. For desert, you could have churros and hot chocolate, biscochitos, or sopapillas with honey.

 

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(bonus St. Nicholas Day fawn ornament. Soo cute!)

 

There are a lot of different posole recipes, and I don’t want to say that this is the “right” way to make it. But around this time of year, it is our way! It’s a rich, New Mexican, Christmasy comfort food!

 

-Abigail-

 

Thankfulness Thursday: Memories, Pumpkins and Leaves

I love Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays. I say ‘one of my favorites’ rather than second favorite or first favorite or whatever, because I can never decide. So am I saying I like Thanksgiving more than Christmas? No. I love Christmas, but there’s something wonderful about Thanksgiving. So I am really looking forward to and enjoying these coming Thursdays, and the whole week of Thanksgiving.

DSCN8296If you’ve read the last few Thursday posts, you’ll know we’re featuring something we’re thankful for, and taking turns. Today’s my turn and I wasn’t really sure what to do, but I thought I’d feature some ‘classic’ Autumn things for our family (or New Mexico)

To the right is the Bosque. The Bosque is beautiful any time of year. It’s not a wonderland, but there’s nothing like it’s rustic beauty, and it is especially beautiful in Autumn. If you happen to be in NM during the Autumn, you have to go. (in NM, by the way, Autumn is properly in the air from anywhere beginning in mid-October to November)

DSCN8324 A more recent Autumnal trademark is- to the left- the Pumpkin Fairy. I was walking past a box full of pumpkins when it occurred to me that they looked like some fabric gathered up in the center- an idea that’s taken off since I saw it. I then came up with the wonderful idea of a lady (clearly a fairy) working on stuffing pumpkins in a field. Technically it should have been a forest in fall time, but a field was easier to do in watercolors.

I love the Pumpkin Fairy! Somehow, miraculously, she turned out right. She was one of those certain type of creativity that doesn’t happen very often for me, much to my annoyance, and then that’s it. For instance, I wish I could come up with a Leaf Fairy, but nothing comes to mind as amusing as the picture above, which is why she’s the only one I’ve done – for now

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It’s funny. I’ve noticed it’s very easy for people to decorate when Autumn comes around, and then of course Christmas is even easier. Everyone loves Autumn, all the leaves and colors. And of course we have always decorated our house with leaves, Thanksgiving trees, pumpkins and corn, gradually adding other things, including small decorative squirrels. To the right is a picture of our oldest leaves, which we don’t actually use very often because they just don’t look right (too well used by now). Now they are decorating our front entrance.

DSCN8307And finally we have…. the Autumnal Pictures. Abigail, Hannah and I used to set up our milk can, pumpkins and various other farm/autumn things and “take pictures”. Unfortunately we had a plastic camera that didn’t actually take pictures.

So, I set it up once again, pulling out the milk can and arranging the pumpkins in the same charming, slightly inexplicable way. I had to add in our more recent purchase of the adorable scarecrows, and use our dog, Annie, instead. You see, if you have someone in these pictures, they have to be wearing overalls! It was always an essential part of the picture for me! (I was either under the impression I was a farmer or a scarecrow. Possibly both)

One of the most important part of Thanksgiving is our Thanksgiving Tree, which I was under the impression for a long time everyone had one. We used to have an ancient paper one, which we finally got rid of a few years ago. Now we have a fabric one, which you can see behind our Black Lab in the last picture. It’s usually set up in our hallway, but we put it on our front door to take this picture, and decided we like it there. Soon we’ll be writing on paper leaves anything (but never everything) we’re thankful for, and taping them up next to our tree.

So, what am I featuring in this post that I’m thankful for? It pretty much seems full of tradition and trademarks, which I am thankful for. But tradition is to a season what flour is to bread- only one, small ingredient (and not always necessary at that)

What I am thankful for is – hard to explain. I think it’s basically this: every year I get caught up trying to get things done. I want to get things done by the time Springtime comes, I want to get things done during the Summer while trying new things and planning for the rest of the year. I want to get things done during the Fall, such as getting a few things out of the way for the end of the year. I want to get things done in time for NaNoWriMo and of course before Christmas. It’s way too easy to think you don’t have time for silly small things.

I think that’s why Thanksgiving is so important. It comes at just about the right time in the year, when I’m spiraling out of control trying to get done the things I wanted done in July and obsessing about the things I have to do in December. Silly things like Pumpkin Fairies, scarecrows and Thanksgiving Trees, those things you’re just used to pulling out when the time comes, helps remind you to enjoy what you’ve always had.

I’m thankful for…. having to stop.

Sarah