The holiday season is synonymous with food (at least in my eyes). Sure, I’m excited to make the trek home, reconnect with those few high school friends I’ve managed to keep and finally catch up on the past season of Dexter, but don’t get me wrong: most of my winter break will be spent eating. And I won’t be eating in restaurants. I’ll be at home with my family, carrying on our many food-related Christmas traditions.
We’ve eaten the same Christmas morning breakfast since my age was in the low single digits (delectable cinnamon buns stuffed with chocolate), and the toes of our stockings always cradle a mandarin orange, but my favourite food tradition makes its appearance at our big turkey dinner.
Simply called Christmas Salad, it’s a strange combination of Jell-O, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Made only once every 365 days, its fleeting appearance makes it something of a celebrity amongst the mashed potatoes and gravy. The recipe originates from my grandmother, and as the third generation of women in my family to use this recipe, I’m sharing it with you.
1 small box lemon Jell-O
2 cups raw cranberries, sliced in half
1 cup celery, chopped
½ red apple, chopped
½ green apple, chopped
1 small can (8 oz/227 g) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup white sugar
1 cup almonds, chopped
Prepare Jell-O according to directions on box. Set aside. Lightly mix the cranberries, celery, apple and pineapple with the sugar. Once the Jell-O has cooled, combine with the fruit and vegetable mixture. Gently mix in almonds. Cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight. Enjoy.
For those intimated by Jell-O salad, there are plenty of Victoria restaurants offering Christmas-themed specials this month.
Stop by Bin 4 Burger Lounge (911 Yates St.) any time during December for their holiday-themed menu. The Let’s Talk Turkey burger ($14) features Fraser Valley free-run turkey, sausage stuffing, wild mushroom gravy, sweet potato strings and cranberry aioli. For dessert, try the eggnog cheesecake with rum caramel ($5) or the white chocolate and mint Bailey’s mousse with candy-cane sprinkles ($5).
Canoe Brewpub (450 Swift St.) has its Winter Gale Strong Ale on tap ($6.50 per pint). My roommate swears by this brew, with flavours of cinnamon, ginger and clove in each sip.
The Clay Pigeon (1002 Blanshard St.) offers homemade stocking stuffers. Choose from Nutella cookies ($4 per bag), root chips ($5 per bag) or sweet and spicy almonds ($6 per bag) for your special someone. And if you need to escape your house post-Christmas, The Clay Pigeon is holding a Boxing Day brunch until 3 p.m.
Provided the apocalypse slated for the 21st is a hoax, Pizzeria Prima Strada’s Cook Street location is open News Year’s Eve and Day (230 Cook St.). Champagne pairs wells with pizza, right?
My Christmas Salad my not be for everyone, but my family’s food traditions aren’t really about eating. They ensure we’re together, spending the last days of the year with those most important to us. Because the way I see food? Sharing a meal isn’t about eating, it’s about saying “I love you” without saying anything at all.