Someone said to me recently that once you are married, you start to establish your own traditions. That is definitely true during the holidays. Unlike rituals, which are a somewhat specified sequence of events, traditions happen somewhat naturally. They are also usually passed on from generation to generation. My family Christmas tradition used to be going to a pub on Christmas Eve and then coming home for a barbecue. Now as an adult, I still year for a real tree, watching the same Christmas movies and opening presents before watching the Queen's message. And I still have to eat fruitcake.
I made this fruit bread last weekend to slowly wean myself off of super sweet treats. It's a mix between a bread and a cake and satisfies your need for baking after the holiday overload. You know when you want to bake a little something, but don't want an entire rich chocolate cake? This bread has cranberries, coconut and a touch of indulgence with chocolate chips. I brought a loaf of the bread into work and had three different people ask for the recipe. Also, that cake stand with a glass dome lid was on sale for $9.99 at IKEA. Not only is it pretty, it also keeps the cake slightly fresher when it's sitting out.
Cranberry and Coconut Bread (recipe from Baker's Royale)3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Directions:1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour a bread pan.
2. Place eggs and sugar in a stand mixer and beat on high until mixture doubles in volume about 6-8 minutes.
3. Add in butter, vanilla, almond extract and then fold in the flour, salt, cranberries, chocolate chips and coconut with a spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 60-90 minutes.
If you want to indulge, then go all the way with a Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie. I blame this pie solely for the few pounds I gained in December. This was the first time I tried the famous crack pie from Momofuku's Toronto location and with prices like that, it might be the last. The cookies on the other hand are a lot more affordable and just as good in flavours such as Blueberry and Cream, Compost and Maple Pecan Coconut. The pie is insanely sweet. I also got the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for Christmas to figure out how to make it myself someday.
I also stocked up on some Holiday Blend Coffee and Habitual chocolate from Fire Roasted Coffee, a fair trade certified coffee and chocolate company in downtown London, Ontario. One of my favourite things is a cup of coffee after a big holiday dinner or sweet dessert. Waking up on Christmas morning and enjoying a giant cappuccino before opening presents is also a new favourite tradition.
Of course it was also party season and that meant a generous spread of appetizers, cheese, vegetables, crackers and an assortment of holiday cookies. After two cookies exchanges, I don't think I can look at another cookie for a long time. I will post about cookie decorating soon. For now, I will say I made about two to three dozen of four different types of cookies, including sugar, gingerbread, peanut butter with chocolate and jam cookies.
For a small cookie exchange party the weekend before Christmas we lit some candles, put out some appetizers, invited some people over and did what we do best on Saturday nights, which is playing boardgames. This time there were a lot more cookies involved than usual and too many to eat in one sitting. These appetizers, on the other hand, I could still eat many more. Instead of pastry or potato, they are made with spaghetti squash, shrimp and cheese, so they are a little on the lighter side.
Light Shrimp Puffs (recipe from iFoodreal)1 spaghetti squash
8 oz cooked shrimp, peeled and diced
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp mayonaise
1 1/2 cups Panko or whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp black pepper, salt
Cooking spray for baking
Directions:1. Cut the squash in half and bake it in the oven at 375F for 30 minutes. Take it out of the oven and cool and then separate the strands with a fork.
2. Add the squash and remaining ingredients in a bowl.
3. Fill a mini muffin pan with the mixture and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with seafood or marinara sauce.
For Christmas Eve dinner we had ham, creamed corn and roasted vegetables. It was a nice quiet evening before heading out on the road to visit family. Food is definitely a part of making traditions. There are other traditions you can create and pass on to others though besides food. When I'm married, I don't think I will care as much about the silver, silk or gold anniversaries. My idea of a perfect anniversary is building upon the years before it by adding new adventures, challenges, routines and enjoying each moment.