For me, Christmas is full of rituals, some old, some new traditions. I have found over the years that no one year is the same as the next. I change, my family changes. But there are some things that never change. This is what I want to share with you and offer as my Christmas Greeting to you.
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps..means a little bit more!” ~Dr. Seuss from How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Christmas Greetings to You and My Traditions of Christmas
One thing I do each and everyday, regardless of whether it is Christmas or not, is that I look out my window and thank God for another day.
Christmas this year is a bit grayer and snow-laden. But that doesn’t matter to me. I’m actually glad that Santa had some to land on my roof. Not a good thing to land on bare shingles, I think.
I’m the first one up each year. Go figure! I don’t let anyone know that I really love to check out what Santa has brought everyone and if he has eaten the cookies and carrots we left him and his reindeer. Oh, and he always answers our Christmas Eve letter.
We have a family tradition of writing a letter to wish him and his reindeer well. Does he answer? Of course! In Santa-style he writes in his familiar scrawl and highlights what he believes is the very best of the the writer and wishes them well for the upcoming year. This year, number one son decided to avoid writing a letter.
Funny how Santa knows this and includes him on his well-wishes.
The Christmas tree is lit and I get my first glimpse of Santa’s generosity.
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
Now for my personal favorite: coffee! I cannot even begin thinking of what’s ahead for the day without my first cup (or glass) of coffee. Thank goodness for Nespresso!
And, I share the Christmas spirit with my love, my hubby, with his very own hot glass of Joe to get him up-and-at-em. These are venti cafe lattes.
I’m not kidding…I have a lot of cooking to do this morning before all is said and done!
But first…I need to make the main dish, Sarma. Sarma? It is a Croatian specialty that is made up of a mixture of beef and pork, spices, rice, rolled in cabbage leaves. It is tradition and I cannot think of a Christmas without this family-fav. But first, I have to do some preparation.
It all starts out as a sour head that I purchase from our specialty grocer Rupenas. From what I know, they are the only ones who offer this in the whole area. I suppose you could create your own by letting green cabbage ferment, but why smell up your house when you can get it fresh from the pros.
Here is the set up for the sink. Don’t the strainers look like googley eyes?
I core the cabbage head and start to peel off the layers of cabbage down to the center.
Cool water is key, as the cabbage is extremely salty. That is why it tastes so good but you can’t consume the cabbage without properly rinsing it at least three times. Yup! I said three times!
The one year I tried to shortcut this step and my Sarma was soooo salty that it was hardly palatable. So rinse, rinse and rinse again!
To 3 1/2 pounds of ground beef and pork, add 1 onion, chopped, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika, 3 eggs, 1 cup breadcrumbs (I use Italian) and two cups of long grained rice. Mix well by hand.
It isn’t difficult to make cabbage rolls. I take a leaf and with the firm end toward myself, I place a tablespoon of meat mixture. I tuck in the sides and roll up. It’s that simple!
I place the rolled cabbage package in a large Nesco with a smoked ham hock and smoked kielbasa, hot and spicy Hungarian and Slovanian sausages.
Keep stacking until you have used up all of the cabbage leaves or meat, whichever comes first.
I top the Sarma with fresh sauerkraut. But just like the sour head, you have to rinse it three times. Then I spread it evenly on top of the Sarma.
Then I pour fresh cool water over everything until it just covers the Sarma. I cook at 350 degrees F for at least four hours.
Leftover Sarma meat is made into meatloaf. I froze it after it was baked through for another meal. Yummy!
“Christmas is doing a little something special extra for someone.” ~Charles M. Schulz
Now onto breakfast…I can hear my hubby waking!
I made my family my delicious Ham and Cheese Frittata. It is a favorite for any occasion but I think it is a special treat for Christmas. Besides, the oven is hot and since the Sarma meatloaf is baking, why not kill two birds with one stone.
Next to make is homemade soda bread. This is a Jacques Pepin recipe. I’ll have to share this with you later. But take my word for it. It is super delicious!
Now onto the dessert! Tiramisu.
It only takes about 15 minutes and my Tiramisu is complete. We will eat this later. After our Sarma, of course!
Can you believe that I got all of this out of the way in less than an hour? I don’t. But then I have been doing this for years.
Whew! I can now settle down to opening Santa’s gifts…
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” ~Roy L. Smith
Looks like Buick Regal (yes, that is our pup’s name) made out like a bandit.
Notice his paw on his toy. No, you don’t mess with his toys–just kidding. He’s a sweetie!
Oh, I heard someone ask if the Sarma is ready. It is! Yea!!!
The usual way our family eats Sarma is with mashed potatoes. I’ve added the homemade soda bread to my plate to sop up the juices. My mom always told me not to waste food. Mom+, here’s to your memory!
I think after this filling meal and delicious dessert that Buick Regal has the right idea. I think I’ll take his hint and rest a bit, too!
What a day! It has been wonderful and full at the same time. Here’s hoping that you, too, had a wonderful Christmas. Here is my final wish for you:
“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” ~Bob Hope
Quotes thanks to Good Reads (www.goodreads.com)