Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday nostalgia

It must be the holidays. Lately I've been feeling even more nostalgic than usual. Listening to old Christmas songs by Perry Como and Dean Martin has me remembering my Aunt Hazel and our pre-Christmas tradition of McDonald's cheeseburgers (paired so perfectly with a chilled Chablis). I hear Bing singing "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and I wonder if Aunt Hazel and Uncle Elmer had that version in 78 RPM. I imagine them sitting together enjoying their tree and reading greeting cards.

My mind wanders to one of my childhood heroes. Reuben is in hospice now, in the final stages of cancer. I was four or five years old when he introduced me to flavors beyond my mother's kitchen. My first taste of Reuben's homegrown homemade horseradish ignited my love and exploration of food. I wrote about that experience in Called to the Table this week. To honor Reuben I will be adding plenty of horseradish to my holiday meals. 

Now, back to Pandora and Johnny Mathis and daydreams of never-to-be-forgotten loved ones.

Horseradish Butter*
Makes ½ cup

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish (or bottled horseradish drained and squeezed dry in kitchen
¼ teaspoon salt

Cream the butter with electric mixer set at medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the horseradish and salt. Transfer to small serving dish and chill until ready to use. Serve cold with meat, poultry, or fish.

*From “The Cooking of Scandinavia”

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