Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas traditions

Decked halls  |  Christmas traditions on afeathery*nest  |

Despite my current Rage Against My Kitchen, in all its cramped, dark, grunginess, we're taking on hosting Christmas Eve dinner and post-Christmas-Eve-Midnight-Mass drinks & desserts. I've just put the last touches on our decked halls and replenished the candles in all our holders and am now about to head into the kitchen to start preparing. Luckily both R and I, despite having very different backgrounds, share the same Christmas Eve traditions, so the only melding required was our menu.

I grew up working Christmas Eve with my parents (they owned a small business), going home around 4PM to prepare the meal (usually pork based), eating around 7PM, then heading to midnight mass. We'd arrive back home a little after midnight and then go to bed for a short nap while "Santa" came, i.e., my parents set up.

Around 1AM we'd head back down to open gifts by the fireplace and before our coffee table stacked and overflowing with all the traditional Christmas sweets we'd been preparing over the last few weeks—the majority were Goan (neureos, bibinca, kulkuls), but we also always had a few dishes from other traditions that made their way into ours through family, like Linzer cookies, courtesy of the relatives that married Germans, and Panettone, from my brother's Napolitan godfather.

Decked halls  |  Christmas traditions on afeathery*nest  |

We'd finally head to bed around 3AM and sleep through until mid-day on the 25th, when we'd be up to feast on cheeses, sausages, mustards and marmalades galore, and a variety of nutty breads—a very Germanic style breakfast. Then we'd laze around with movies and playing with our gifts for the rest of the day.

R grew up doing generally the same thing—where the 24th has always held more importance to his family than the 25th.

We're doing something similar this year: hosting Christmas Eve dinner for family on the 24th, then heading up to our church in Nolita for carols and Midnight Mass, then back here for sweets and gifts (although, only the baby is getting something this year!). Then everybody shall be shooed out so we can get to bed. Although, not sure how much sleep we'll get then (or tonight) as we're babysitting our godson/nephew for the next 48 hours so my brother and his wife can get a few night's proper sleep in their hotel. On the 25th we're heading out to see family on Long Island. More feasting will be involved, naturally.

But back to tomorrow: before I get started on the cooking, perhaps y'all might like to see our (ambitious) melded menu?

Decked halls  |  Christmas traditions on afeathery*nest  |

To start, early in the evening in the "living room"—the Swedish portion of the meal
+ Smoked salmon
+ Herring
+ Hard boiled eggs
+ Caviar

Dinner—the mostly Italian portion of the meal
+ Brussels sprouts with bacon
+ Broccoli sauteed with garlic and chilies
+ Arancini (rice balls)
+ Lasagne
+ Polpette (meatballs)
+ Involtini di melanzane (Eggplant rolls)

Sweets—the gluten/sugar-free-for-J part of the meal (featuring Goan sweets + one Italian)
+ Almond tart with chocolate and pears (a variation on my "signature" dessert)
+ Coconut truffles
+ Satsuma, almond and polenta cake
+ Assorted Goan sweets that my mom is bringing
+ Panettone, which R insisted on

Now, time to get started. Merry Christmas, y'all!

Oh, and P.S., I discovered the secret to making any environment nicer, even a less-than-inviting kitchen: candles, candles everywhere (and perhaps a stiff drink...otherwise known as "chef's juice").

Japanese whisky at Christmas  |  Christmas traditions on afeathery*nest  |

One year ago: Oh the places you'll go & A bout of the sniffles & Honduran holiday


  1. This sounds so heavenly. Think about us as you enjoy this goodness as we'll be spending Christmas Eve din at the Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill per Mama's insistence. Queso and fajitas all around (fml). Xoxox.

    1. Ha, aww, that just made me LOL. Love that it's called Tumbleweed.
      Good ol', Mama.

      Will certainly be thinking of you all! Hope your flights went/are going well. Xxx

  2. I love your Christmas traditions, it sounds like the Russian New Year's Eve except minus the church and plus the vodka. How nice that your nephew is getting to celebrate his first Christmas with this family tradition. And yes, candles just make everything more magical, I've been obsessed lately with peeping in the homes of northern europeans they so know how to do candles!...

    1. Thanks, Alla dear! We substituted the vodka for whisky :) Has been such a wonderful few days with the whole family together, including the newest member who is SUCH a treat. Never seen/heard of a better behaved baby. It's almost TOO easy. :)

      I don't know why candles aren't used more here, like they are in Europe, especially Northern. They're just so magical, as you say. Hope you're having a good holiday!

  3. I love all of the festive little touches around your apartment (which is adorable and so cozy, by the way) and I completely agree about the candles. Soft, glowy lighting makes a world of difference. Merry Christmas, J! xo

    1. Thanks so much, Amanda! I have to say, despite all my grumbles toward apartment, I do like how (if I ignore certain things ;) ), it feels so cozy and homey. Especially this time of year. Hope you and Aaron and the puggles and fam and friends are having a lovely holiday! Merry Christmas to y'all!

  4. even though x-mas is really not my holiday, i really really like it. all the decorations and cheers everywhere makes it very festive. your apartment looks very cute. hope you guys had a wonderful time :)

    1. Funny you say that, Dixya. My brother's wife was born and raised Muslim, but after her family came to America (specifically NY), and she saw the decorations and felt the festivity in the air, she began to really enjoy being near the holiday, too. Thanks for the nice words about the apartment—we had a great time with our family and now relaxing before the New Year arrives. Hope you're having a good end-of-year, too!

  5. It's so neat to see how others celebrate the holidays, especially those with more significant culturally different backgrounds - cause, ya know, the ham and lights get old ;).

    1. Hi there, Rikki—nice to see/meet you! I'm completely fascinated with how others live their lives, too (from celebrating holidays to how they organize their bags to daily routines, etc.). I'm a bit of a voyeur, but in the absolute nicest, least-creepy manner possible! Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and hope to see you around these parts again soon! :) Happy New Year!


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