I guess all families hope for a conflict-free Christmas Dinner. We hope the children will leave their new toys and come to the table willingly. We hope certain extended family member won’t bring up certain memories (as they always do). We hope Grandpa won’t say a blessing before the meal that goes on and on like a sermon (and like this sentence) while the kids peek at each other and stomachs rumble and mouths water and Mother worries that the food will get cold.
Like Tiny Tim’s mother, the cook hopes her “Christmas pudding” or whatever special dish she attempted for the holiday will turn out and everyone will like it.
As a mother, and now a grandmother, I have often been the Christmas Dinner cook. I know how Mrs. Cratchit felt. And I know the joy of a holiday meal together around a festive table with candles burning, spicy and savory scents wafting from colorfully prepared dishes, the best silver clinking on pretty china, and the children, who are eager for dessert, allowed to drink out of fancy crystal goblets.
But this is the first year that I, to avoid conflict with special diets, had to adjust my usual holiday recipes to accommodate my husband, who must eat gluten-free now, and my granddaughter, who is on a doctor-ordered diet of no sugar or lactose.
We had ham dinner. I couldn’t use the packaged glaze that came with the ham because it contained both gluten and sugar. So I mixed my own glaze of honey and lemon. It helps that we have a lot of honey from our backyard beehive. I used honey in several of the dishes, including the gelatin salad and the dessert, both of which were much less rich than what I’ve usually served. (I have always made pies before — pecan, apple, and pumpkin with whipped cream).
My family scarfed down the food without qualm — and even the children asked for more salad and dessert. So I’m going to share these recipes with you in case you’d like to try them. Here they are:
Sparkling Gelatin Salad
In a saucepan pour 4 cups Cranberry-Cherry Juice (unsweetened, 100% fruit juice). Sprinkle over that 4 packages of Plain Gelatin. Stir over low heat until dissolved. Add 1/3 cup Honey and stir till dissolved. Stir in 1 cup Sparkling Cider. Chill till partially set. Then add: chopped, unpeeled organic Apples, sliced Bananas, and some coarsely-chopped Pecans. Mix and pour into a gelatin mold. Chill. Just before serving, unmold the salad onto a pretty, round Christmas platter.
Baked Honey Custard
In a mixing bowl, slightly beat 4 Eggs. Stir in 1/2 cup Honey, 2-1/2 cups Milk (I used coconut milk), 1/2 teaspoon Salt, and 1 teaspoon Vanilla. Mix well. Pour into six custard cups. Place cups in a shallow pan and pour 1/2-inch of hot water around them. Bake in 350-degree oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1/2-inch from edge comes out “clean.” Sprinkle with Nutmeg if desired. Cool, then chill in refrigerator and serve cold. You may want to serve the custards along with a plate of Christmas cookies.
Our Christmas dinner (which we celebrated a few days early this year with our daughter’s family) was conflict-free also, in the sense that no one had to worry about whether or not they could eat the food.
Because we love our families, we keep making adjustments.
~ Catherine Lawton