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Pull Out the Pizelle Maker: It’s Weird Holiday Food Time!

Posted Nov 26 2012 9:11am

It’s not just families that makes weird food for the holidays apparently. Peppermint potato chips?! On second thought, sweet-and-salty is a pretty awesome flavor combo…

“Wow, you must really love cooking!” a friend exclaimed yesterday when she dropped by unexpectedly to find me under a pile of dirty dishes surrounded by 72 muffins (however would I learn my twelvesies time tables if it weren’t for muffin pans?!), two loaves of whole-grain bread (hubby found a hand-crank wheat grinder on sale and the kiddos think it’s more fun than the Wii), two large pans of enchiladas, a pan full of boiling chicken and a very suspicious-looking batch of chocolate chia seed pudding*.

“No,” I sighed as I surveyed the mess that would make a frat party look like a Norwex party. “I just prefer it to the alternative.”

The truth is I don’t love cooking. But luckily I don’t hate it either because with the way I prefer my family to eat combined with my control-freak nature the only other alternative would be a very expensive food bill or, you know, hosting The Swedish Chef on a student-muppet exchange program. (Better him than Elmo! Sigh… poor Elmo.) And my predilection – if not my less-than-stellar kitchen skillz – come in handy, especially this time of year.

Fire up your ovens, Lords and Ladies! It’s holiday cooking time! Which for many families is code for “break out the old family recipe that is supposed to remind us of our cultural heritage that we only eat once a year.” Just like every family has a skeleton in their closet, each clan also has that one really crazy dish in their repertoire that has to be served every year much to the delight (or chagrin) of the members. Up here in Minnesota, the Scandinavian influence is so strong that “lutefisk” – white fish soaked in lye – is so popular they even sell it in giant jars at Costco. (I’ve lived here six years now and still haven’t had the guts to try it. And I’m a girl who will pretty much eat anything.) Another winter fave here is “hotdish” which is Scandinavian for “we’re too good to call it a casserole like everyone else” with the perennial favorite being the horrid (sorry Gym Buddy Allison & Krista!) Tater Tot Pie.

I saw this at Target the other day. So much of this baffles me. First, there is nothing velvet or chocolate in red velvet cake (as far as I can tell it’s just regular cake with red food dye?) and second, when did red velvet chocolate cake become a holiday flavor?

So after chowing down this past weekend on my mom’s pretzel Jell-O salad a pretzel Jell-O  dish  (Confidential to the reader who commented that she forgot the sugar in the pretzel crust this year: we did too! We also still ate it!) I decided to find out what other weird things people eat for the holidays. Here are some of my favorite funny, but delicious (or so they say), holiday recipes from weird-o friends around the country:

In Utah, one friend reports a holiday potluck must-have with “a Lime Jello layer, then this white layer that has Velveeta cheese in it, then a cherry jello layer on top.” If this sounds crazy just remember that Utah officially designated Jell-O the official state snack food .


A friend from Texas reports an annual New Year’s Eve dish of black-eyed peas stewed with okra . Although he notes dryly, “I do not personally observe this tradition.” And it may be one reason he doesn’t live in Texas anymore.


In Ohio, about as far from the ocean as you can get, a friend’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner is oyster stew . She explains, “It’s disgusting but my mom thinks that everyone must love it because we do it every year! Uh, mom, we do it every year cause you make it every year! Stop making it!!”


Finally, in my own family, no holiday celebration would be complete without the Hearts of Palm Salad . You marinate a can of hearts of palm (yes, the middles of palm trees are edible! I’d love to meet the human who figured that one out.), artichoke hearts, baby corn, olives and cherry tomatoes in Italian salad dressing and then serve over a bed of greens. No one eats the greens but it we like the health halo so we keep doing it. Seeing as my mother comes from strong German stock, I always assumed the recipe came from Deutchland. “Oh heavens no!” she retorted. “I found that in a magazine one year when I was trying to be fancy! They don’t have palm trees in Germany!”


With all the emphasis on watching our waistlines during the holidays – if I hear one more time about how “the average American gains 7 pounds over the holidays” I’m going to whack the speaker over the head with their scale – it can be easy to forget that food is nourishing, uniting and even entertaining. So instead of focusing on how that bon-bon is going straight to your bon-bon, let’s remember all the great – and strange – holiday foods you grew up with and what they mean to you.


Do you have a funny, off-beat or crazy holiday recipe that’s become a tradition in your family? What kind of holiday cooking do you do? Do you healthify anything? Feel free to share links to your fave recipes/stories! Would you eat Peppermint Pringles?


This is actually an ice-cream turkey put out by Baskin Robbins this year. When I first saw the pic I thought it was a glammed-up Tofurkey but no, that shiny stuff is caramel. 


*This all was not part of a holiday bake-ganza, actually. Every Sunday I do a crap-ton of cooking to get ready for feeding my family (that includes one son who ate eleven ounces of frozen yogurt in ten minutes this weekend during our family’s first (expensive) excursion to Cherry Berry).
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