The per­fect gift is just a tra­di­tion away

Tri-County Vanguard - - OP-ED - Kristy Her­ron

In the run up to Christ­mas we can all be­come ob­sessed with the per­fect gift for those we hold dear, yet the gifts that are re­mem­bered are the ones that came from the heart.

My trea­sured mem­o­ries and pos­ses­sions in­clude the stuffed or­na­ments that are not per­fectly stitched that were made for me by a child, some pa­per snowflakes, a Christ­mas card with a thought­ful let­ter, the cookies and sweets that my friends give me, as well as the thought­ful kind­nesses of the years gone by.

The Christ­mas Eve feast af­ter mass in our house­hold was a cul­tural mys­tery. As with most Cana­di­ans it was a blend of old and new – her­itage in­flu­ences that merged tra­di­tions, as well as new ideas. The sta­ples were a tour­tière, the turkey, the sal­ads and then Grandma Her­ron’s ‘Ir­ish’ fruit­cake or Grandma Bessie’s Christ­mas pud­ding. No of­fense was taken when the pud­ding pre­vailed. It was lux­u­ri­ous. It would be set alight with a wee bit of brandy, then served with a dab of ice cream and a deca­dent rum sauce. Grandma would have re­placed the ice cream with a dab of a sweet hard sauce, but it was ‘our way.’

For some rea­son Bessie’s pud­ding was a bit dif­fer­ent each year. Al­ways good, but she, like most cooks of her era, used what she had the most of to make this del­i­cacy. I re­mem­ber car­rot and turnip fla­vors but I also re­mem­ber the fruit and the raisins. Walk­ing into the kitchen and smelling the pud­ding as it steamed was in it­self an ex­pe­ri­ence. The real chal­lenge, how­ever, was stand­ing be­side her and try­ing to quan­tify the in­gre­di­ents. Pinch of that, a tea cup of this, yikes, how would one ever repli­cate her creativ­ity?

Her recipe was for a huge gath­er­ing, hence now, as much as I so love it, I no longer make it as it would be waste­ful. Grandma would not ap­prove of waste, but I can still have a spe­cial pud­ding as the dear ones at Grace United Church will make that a re­al­ity for me and you. The culi­nary artists who are part of that con­gre­ga­tion will make a one-pound pud­ding for those of us who still re­mem­ber that joy. They will gift wrap as well. I am sure that will fit some­one on your list. So for a mere $12, you can have this in­dul­gence by call­ing Linda at 902-467-3729.

Per­haps you are won­der­ing about the ‘Ir­ish’ fruit­cake? Well, some of you may re­mem­ber what was called in re­al­ity ‘war cake.’ In war times, eggs, but­ter, and milk were ra­tioned. Cre­ative cooks dis­cov­ered an easy and eco­nom­i­cal recipe for mak­ing a cake, thus, it was given the name. You would boil: 2 cups water, 2 cups raisins; 1 cup light mo­lasses; 1 cup sugar; 2/3 cup short­en­ing. Af­ter it cooled you would sift to­gether

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