Monday, December 19, 2011

First Christmas

11 hits from Germany this week!  Way to be awesome, Germany!  I would make something German, but I don't really know any German recipes.  I do take suggestions!  Come to think of it, I did Christmas with my mom's side of the family last night, and she got me a meat grinder/sausage maker... so I could make sausages.  Sausages are German.  Unless that's a racist thing to say, in which case, sorry.  I love sausages! <---Fact.

Anyway, yesterday was family Christmas with my mom's family.  We've got three families to arrange Christmas with, and they all live in opposite directions in the state, so things need to be spread out over more than two days.

I had a great time.  My sister has a two year old, and his complete joy at opening presents has actually gotten me in a Christmas-y mood.  Which is a big deal for me.  I generally am one of those people who just gets stressed out and angry at Christmas time, and most of the time it doesn't seem worth the trouble.  But a two year old giggling uncontrollably whilst throwing colored bits of paper up into the air - along with a whole lot of wine (for me, not the two year old!) - has made me downright jolly.  Really.  I listened to Christmas carols on my way in to work today.  I may have even sung along!

At any family dinner, I am always in charge of vegetables.  I feel like vegetables - especially salad - tend to be overlooked in the big meal.  This may be a Wisconsin thing, but meat and potatoes are always the star.  Vegetables are there to have something green on the table, but generally are afforded very little room on the plate!

But good vegetables are good.  And I don't always care for meat that much when other people are cooking.  One of the realizations I have made in this locavore quest is how different "real" meat tastes from the meat you buy in the grocery store.  In fact, there was a time that I thought I didn't like meat.  I even considered becoming a vegetarian!  Imagine!! Turns out I just don't like crappy meat.

But, I do understand that not everyone has the time/money to buy fresh local meat, and I don't begrudge them that, I just fill up on vegetables.  Vegetables that I bring, so I know that they're good.

Which is why I have become the vegetable girl!

I did ask ahead and found out that there would not be room for me in the oven (seriously, people.  It's only polite to ask!), so I made two crock pot vegetable dishes, both of which could be warmed in the microwave if necessary (and it was).  My only complaint with either of these was in regards to the beets.  I used a combo of red and yellow beets, which I should have realized was a bad plan.  Some of the yellow beets got stained with the red beets, but not allover, which just ended up making them look weird.  They still tasted delicious, but it was kind of like someone colored on them with a big red marker.  In the future, I think I'd only use one color of beets in this dish.

This was probably my favorite beet preparation so far.  And it was a lot easier than some of the others, so this concept is something I might stick to moving forward.  I figure it should work with a lot of different flavors.  As written, it was very Christmas-y!

While the beets were my favorite, the squash was the star of the show.  I didn't get to take any home, so I will be making more soon.  I also promised my sister that I would get this posted today so she could steal the recipe... I'm just barely making good on that promise!

Braised Beets with Orange and Clove 
(I have to be honest, here, only the beets and honey are local...)
  • 3 lbs beets (stick to the same color beets)
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
Peel beets, and cut into 1/2 inch slices.  Season with salt and pepper, and place in the slow cooker.  Combine remaining ingredients, and pour over beets.  Cover, and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.  I held mine on warm for about 2 hours longer, and they held up nicely.

Spicy Squash with Garlic-Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lb squash, peeled, cut in half, and cut into 1 1/2 inch thick slices (I used a combination of butternut and an orange squash that I bought because it was pretty, but which I have no clue what it is)
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 small diced Thai chili (frozen from my garden)
  • 1/2 pint tomato sauce (from my canning frenzy!)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
 For the Yogurt Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped mint
In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, warm the olive oil.  Working in batches, add the squash, season with salt and pepper, and saute until evenly browned, about 7 minutes.  Transfer to the slow cooker.  Add ginger, garlic, coriander, cinnamon, curry, and chilis, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato sauce, the honey, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Stir, scrapping the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil.  Pour over squash in crock pot.  Cover and cook until squash is tender but still holds it's shape.  I cooked mine a little too long.  It was good, but falling apart more than I would have liked.  I would say four hours on the low setting and not a minute longer!  Maybe only 3 and a half if you're going to need to heat it up later.

Meanwhile, or the day before, combine yogurt, garlic, mint, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Finally, I promised my step-dad that I would post a picture of his stollen bread.  Look how pretty.  And!  Stolen is German!  Yay!  Full Circle!!


  1. Kate, I totally agree that Christmas with kids is totally different than Christmas without kids. Their joy is infectious. Even my step-daughter noticed and asked her mother if she could spend Christmas morning with us even though technically she should have been spending it with her mother.

    Both of these recipes sound delicious. I think I'm going to try the beets on Christmas, but the squash is a little too fussy when I have to cook everything else too! And two new vegetables at once might be a bit too much for my family!

  2. I have to agree that Vegetables often get overlooked - and I am a huge fan of vegetables. Beets are not one that I love, but I do like them. Thanks for the ideas!

  3. The beets were awesome! My parents even asked me for the recipe!