Merry Christmas to all from the HHH

Published 7:26 am Sunday, December 25, 2016

You are likely reading this between holiday activities, or maybe you’ve already participated in some or will be doing so in the coming days. Whatever your schedule, you probably did something that you have been doing for years. That’s how the holidays seem to go. Families build traditions out of activities that bring them together such as travelling, cooking, or crafting. Several presenters came together at the Hormel Historic Home Hearth & Home series last week to share stories of their holiday traditions. Pozole, cheese balls, German Cookies, and Pennsylvania Dutch Amish treats were shared.

Miguel Garate and Anna Montes told of the Latino tradition of serving Pozole during the holidays. The flavorful “soupy stew” is filled with the flavors of pork, chicken, hominy and chilies and then topped with radishes, onions, lime and lettuce. Serving the dish at family gatherings and on special occasions dates back hundreds of years in Mexico. Everyone enjoyed tasting the soup, and I have a feeling Pozole may become a tradition in several Austin homes, including mine!

Who doesn’t like cheese? My co-worker, Amanda, and her mom, Rose, told about their tradition of making cheese balls, which, for Rose, goes back 35 years. During her commutes to Rochester many years ago, she became friends with her fellow commuters. They shared stories and recipes and the cheese ball tradition stemmed from those friendships. Now Rose and her daughter have strengthened their own bond through their annual cheese ball and candy making.

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Pat and David were our final presenters. They each spoke of the influence their upbringings had on their holiday memories. Pat grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she was surrounded by the Amish and Mennonite cultures. Her grandmother taught her to cook, and Pat shared one of the recipes called Sand Tarts. Her husband, David, was raised on a farm near Brownsdale and he, too, was influenced by his grandparents. Every Christmas Eve, following the pageant at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, the family gathered at his grandparents where he remembers eating honey cookies and Lebkuchen made by his grandmother. She never wrote any recipes down so David and his family have had to try to emulate the traditions of their past. The Lebkuchen he shared with the group were soft and lightly glazed. I think his grandma would have been proud.

The idea for this presentation came from an excerpt written by George Hormel describing his own Christmas memory of his mother. “Mother was always a genius in the kitchen and about the stove, and on Christmas she was at her best, preparing a variety of good and attractive things which make young hearts glad and happy. Cookies in many shapes, heart-shaped, round, stars, animals, all were sprinkled with a variety of colored sugar.

“How good these looked and tasted, especially when we saw them taken out of the oven in large pans. The atmosphere of the large kitchen was filled with their appetizing aroma, and we literally were breathing Christmas with every breath we drew.” … Breathing in Christmas-whatever the holiday means to you I hope the aroma of the holiday is sweet and memorable.

History Happy Hour 

5:30 social, 6 p.m. presentation, Jan. 9

Archeology of Bones, What 3,000-year-old bones can tell us. Presented by Elena Haymond who has done research on bones from an ancient Bulgarian cemetery. With pictures and stories, Elena will explain how the appearance of a bone can tell cause of death, childhood nutrition, and information about the civilization of the time period.Free for members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society, and Friends of the Library. $5 for nonmembers.