Christmas

We had a nice Christmas. It was cozy, and we felt at home. Enjoying this Christmas showed the dual personalities that make up who we are as a family.

On Christmas Eve we ate pizza and roast duck with our coworkers (they made the duck, I made the pizza).
Christmas morning we opened presents in front of the lit Christmas tree. We enjoyed a Western breakfast.
Mid-morning we walked to church and enjoyed the Christmas service that they hold every year.
Like always, we ate Christmas lunch with hundreds of our mountain village friends. We enjoyed rice with various sauces. The boys happily heaped fish and instant noodles on their rice. Michael headed for the bitter greens. I reached for grated green papaya mixed with a dark coconut sauce. The boys told me that they were a little sad that there wasn’t breadfruit curry (Grey) or cassava greens (Jude) this year.
Evening was for playing with presents, and making a Christmas lasagna. I’ve included the recipe for my lasagna below.

Do you think Western style comfort food is worth the effort?
Cassava and greens takes less juggling, and planning ahead.

At another Christmas celebration I realized the importance of also eating my friends’ comfort foods. A lady asked our house helper, “do they eat cassava?” To which she replied, “Oh yes of course. They love cassava. They eat it all of the time.” I realized that we had, in a small way, made further steps towards belonging here. “Yes, yes we do eat YOUR comfort foods.”

What would YOU do? Would you eat locally all of the time? Would you put the work into eating comfort foods from your home culture? Or would you do like we do, and do a mix of both? Spaghetti sauce and noodles with a side of rice and greens.

RECIPE for Christmas Lasagna (with “lots of red sauce because that’s a Christmas color” —Jude)

Sausage
Purchase pork in the city and grind it
Mix ground pork with approximate amounts of:
garlic powder
onion powder
fennel seed
sage
thyme
oregano
paprika
small pinch of salt, pepper, and sugar.
Divide into 250 gram portions, place in freezer bags, and take to your friends’ house. They’ll store it in their freezer until you are ready to use it.

Tomato Sauce
1/2 kilo tomatoes (approximately), roughly chopped
2 smallish carrots, shredded
2 Garlic cloves
6 small Shallots
2 Tablespoons Tomato paste (purchased in the city, and brought to the mountains on the back of a motorbike)
Pinch of Sugar (or palm sugar)
Italian seasoning (or a mix of basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and rosemary)
Fennel
Pepper
Salt
Olive Oil (2 liter bottle purchased in the city)
“Sausage” (brought up from our friends house 3 days before Christmas, sautéed the day it was brought up, and then made up into sauce the next morning)
Pound the garlic and shallots in a mortar and pestle (or use a garlic press). Sauté in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a dab of butter (optional). Add tomatoes and carrots, and cook until soft, mushy, and the tomato skins are easy to remove (optional). Add tomato paste, sugar, and spices. Taste. Add cooked sausage. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and cover. Let sit until night. Heat to a very bubbly boil. Turn off. Because we don’t have refrigeration we’ll repeat in the morning and evening until we need to use the sauce. Our Christmas lasagna sauce lasted for about 56 hours before using (the sausage wouldn’t have lasted from market day until we needed it..so I made it into the sauce to “preserve” it).

Ricotta
4 cups of water
2 cups of powdered milk
2 tablespoon of vinegar
Bring milk to the just about to “pop into bubble” stage. Add vinegar. Let sit for 2-12 hours. Strain through a cloth dish towel. It makes about 1/2 cup of ricotta.

Layer lasagna noodles(purchased in the city, brought to our mountain home, and stored until we needed them), Tomato Sauce, olives (optional), crumbled Ricotta, and Parmesan(purchased on another island, brought to the city, stored in our friends freezer until Michael got it on market day). Top with parmesan.

Bake in an aluminum box on top of your stove. You might want to bake it along with homemade garlic bread. But that’s a recipe for another day.

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