At this time of year there is nothing better then bringing out the family traditions that give you that warm taste of comfort and Christmas feeling. It can be ones passed down from years of multiple generations or ones that you may have just started with your own immediate family. Either way, these are special times and there is nothing better then to share it with friends and family.
Many gardeners grow vegetables for fresh eating as well as storing. With loads of social gatherings of family and friends, this is the perfect time to bring out those veggies again and make some of your favorites or to try something new. Besides that's what you worked so hard and grew those veggies for right from the beginning.
To make things a little more interesting this week, I decided to ask some co-workers what types of traditional veggie side dishes they enjoy at Christmas time. By sharing these traditions it gets everyone excited about the season and may even give others ideas of what may become something they could try as well. I loved being able to talk with everyone about this as it brought smiles and a bit of that Christmas nostalgia to each others minds. This time of year is so special as we look forward to mostly just having that peaceful rest time together and to put all the busy days behind for a few days, hopefully!
I gotta say...it was quite interesting when touring around the office to gather these ideas because as with every idea, everyone has a story. This is another reason why I felt that it would be great to share!
There was much conversation generated around Vesey's when staff were asked this question..."When you sit down for your Christmas dinner, what type of vegetable, whether its a casserole or a certain way it is done up, would complete your Christmas dinner that you just have to have?" Some shared unique traditions such as roasting veggies to make a Shepherd's Pie with, and this staff member indicated that instead of using white potato he uses sweet potato as the topping. Other interesting side dishes mentioned were creamed cabbage and beet salad, "the way mom use to make them." Some side dishes are so special to carry on as traditions especially when enjoyed in memory of loved ones. I can definitely relate to those unique traditions as my husband's family have always enjoyed the Green Bean Casserole with cream of mushroom soup and french onions to crisp on top. This was one of his dad's favorite side dishes that he just had to have, especially on Christmas day. This tradition still continues to be enjoyed by family in his memory. These are all things that bring us that warm comfort of home and how important it is to be with friends and family.
I did find many had said, "Oh you can't mess with serving the veggies the old traditional way, just mash them and add a bit (or lots) of butter. When cooking all different types of vegetables and so much variety why not keep it simple if that's your preference. You don't even need any recipes! It's all in what makes this complete for you.
Along with cooking your veggies no particular way there is a method in how they are served as I mentioned. Whether carrots are cut into "coins", Julienne with parsnip, glazed with either just butter or brown sugar, mashed with turnip, butter and brown sugar, combination of mashed carrot with turnip and parsnip nothing added, they are simply delicious! Is this making you hungry yet?
Another favorite Christmas veggie mentioned was the turnip aka Rutabaga. It's interesting how many prefer them prepared as well. It was specifically said to be sure to just cut up turnip in "cubes" and not mash them, another staff mentioned, "Oh no, you have to have them mashed with brown sugar and butter, YUM!" The conversations were so entertaining, and very interesting to hear everyone's slightly different preferences even though the vegetables mentioned were the same. Turnip is also great mashed with other vegetables such as parsnip, carrot and even winter squash.
A few other veggies that were suggested were corn, grilled zucchini and grilled asparagus simply because they were interested in having these veggies since they haven't had them since the days of BBQing. We are always open to adding new traditions with each year as our families grow and look forward to ideas from our next generation. One of my newest favorite Christmas side dishes has become sweet potato casserole. So easy to prepare as well as a new and interesting way to add flavor to these delicious veggies that are so easy to grow.
You may also have an abundance of delicious preserves stored in your cold room that make an excellent addition to any meal. This was also a preferred choice from a staff member. Many people think of meals that will pair well with their preserves because they enjoy them so much. Be it mustard pickles, pickled beets or chow, they are all simply delicious and really add to any dinner especially at Christmas. Is your plate full yet? Another mention of a delicious side was creamy coleslaw and the ever famous cranberry sauce. I found it funny when some even mentioned if they could say their favorite thing was, is the dressing. Although it's not a vegetable side dish, it does have a specific spice called summer savory we like to grow. If this is one of your favorite additions, I can understand why because it is simply delicious and most Christmas Turkey dinners aren't complete without it. After the dinner it may be another one of your favorite traditions to have one of these...
Our holiday season is fast approaching and may have even started long ago for most. My hope for you all is to be able to make time to just sit, relax and enjoy the peacefulness of the season with family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all from the staff of Vesey's Seeds. Thank you for your continued support as we look forward in hearing from you in 2016.