Monday, December 23, 2013
The preparations are almost complete. A few miles up the road, I understand, the exits at our nearest shopping center are jammed, but I was there yesterday when it wasn't too crazy. People seemed to be reasonably sane, there were no cart crashes in the grocery store although I saw a few close calls, and people wished each other Merry Christmas. So, too, do I wish a very Merry Christmas to all those who observe.
My household always was and still is multi-religious. We are Catholic, Protestant and Jewish in nearly equal number, have a few folk who observe Yule and a few who just observe a good dinner--because that is one thing we always have. Most older members and a couple young ones are with us in spirit only. Since the death of my Aunt Mary, I am now officially Matriarch of the Family. And though I'll never mix a cocktail like my aunt--whom I happily carted to Midnight Mass for the last years of her life--I will dutifully dish up chili and cornbread on Christmas Eve and roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding on Christmas Day.
To this day, there has been only the slightest variation in the menu bequeathed to me by my Nana Lillian, which she put together at the instigation of my grandfather. So quiet he was nearly overlooked in the flood tide of Nana's boisterous Irish family, Grand Dad Herman Wells nevertheless left a legacy of indomitable will and roast beef very appropriate for a Cornishman. I know most people have their own favorite method of preparing roast or prime rib, which has sneaked its way onto our table occasionally. But I doubt anyone has my Nana's recipe for Yorkshire Pudding, so I thought I would share this with you as my Christmas cyber-gift:
NANA'S YORKSHIRE PUDDING
1 cup sifted flour 1/2 tsp. salt 1 cup milk 2 eggs
Remove roast from oven and keep warm. Pour 1/4 cup drippings from roaster into a loaf pan. Sift flour and salt. Gradually stir in the eggs and milk. Beat with a beater until smooth. Pour into pan and bake at 450 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. If pudding browns too rapidly, reduce heat to 300 degrees until pudding is puffy and a knife blade inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and serve with gravy and roast. Makes six modest portions.
We usually doubled or tripled the quantity and simply lined up loaf dishes because the small-volume dish makes the pudding rise like crazy.
Additionally in our case this meal was always accompanied by Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips, creamed onions and apple pie. And usually tea, though we're pretty thoroughly assimilated by now and coffee often prevails. Still, I suspect this meal would look familiar to someone from Cornwall. Someday I'd like to go there and find out for myself!
Happy Holidays, all!