Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tradition, Quilts, and Flaming Desserts

Christmas this year was a big occasion. Christmas every year is big. When you have 3 brothers, 2 sisters, 3 stepbrothers, and 1 stepsister, every occasion is a big occasion. Christmas fortunately is split into 2 days for my side of the family. My dad and my stepmom always have the Brain and I over to celebrate Christmas and my stepbrothers and their wives are terrific people and we all get along great. This year was a little different than usual and I'll post on that later.

Christmas at my mom and my stepdad's house happens every Christmas Eve. My mom is big on tradition, and just like when I was a little girl at my grandmother's house, we celebrate with a big fancy dinner on Christmas Eve. We have pickled herring as a starter and it is always my job to cut the pickled herring into bite sized pieces. I LOVE pickled herring and frequently feast on it while cutting it into pieces. Then we have a delicious meal with green bean casserole and twice baked potatoes. Last year we had a crown roast of pork. This year we had chicken cordon blue. My stepdad is a really really good cook.

After we've eaten dinner on the fine china and we are all stuffed to the gills, the adults all help clean up all the dishes, put away one of the extra dinner tables (12 adults and 4 children need two tables), and get things ready. One adult gets the job of working the DVD player and keeping the kids occupied with a Christmas video and somehow Santa always comes to our house first on Christmas Eve. After the dishes are done and the adults are finished cleaning up from dinner, Santa yells "HO HO HO!" and slams the front door. By the time the kids get to the door he's all gone, but he's left a mammoth pile of presents under the tree. It's really cute.

Then we draw presents from youngest to oldest where you can't pick a present for yourself, it has to be for someone else. This way we all get to see what everyone else got. Opening presents can get a little tedious and has lasted well into the wee hours of the night. Not so much now that the adults all draw names so we have far less presents under the tree.

This year, my favorite present is a quilt my mom made the Brain and I. It is a quilt that I started with her and I put 4 squares together. Now that I have a sewing machine and I have successfully put together my apron I was ready to finally come up to Michigan and collect the quilt pieces and do it myself and maybe sometime this century I'd have it finished. Apparently when Mom made our wedding quilt, we had asked for king sized, she felt bad because it is much bigger than our bed. So over the summer she finished the melon ball quilt I had started. Quilts are really hard work and I was teasing my sisters that Mom likes me best because I got 2 quilts in one year. The wedding quilt is the picture here and the Christmas quilt is the one above this paragraph.

After all the presents were unwrapped, we had dessert. Dessert, as tradition dictates, is Rice Bavarian. Rice Bavarian is a delicious dessert of whipped cream and rice and gelatin. it's really really tasty. Then on top we pour brandied cherries and light them on fire. My grandpa would always put loads of brandy in it so it would really flame high. Grandpa was quite the character. As our family has grown bigger we now also accommodate the vegan and lactose intolerant members of our family with a pineapple upside down cake made without milk or eggs. But really it's all about the flaming Rice Bavarian.

Rice Bavarian
Dorothy Hunter

1 1/2 pints whole milk
lemon peel*
1/2 cup rice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 oz granulated (unflavored) gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup heavy cream whipped

Put milk and lemon peel in double boiler, when hot, stir in well washed rice and salt. Cook until rice is perfectly tender. Add to hot cooked rice; flavoring, sugar, and gelatin which has been dissolved in water. Mix carefully.
When mixture is beginning to set, fold in cream, whipped stiff. Pour into mold and chill.

"Grandma like to use canned cherries mixed with Cherry Kiafa and set aflame."

* What can I say, it's another family recipe. I asked my mom how much lemon peel and she pulled out of jar and added a couple shakes.

Cherry Kiafa is some kind of cherry liquor. Something with a high proof burns the best.

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