Tuesday 25 December 2012

An American/Australian Christmas

Other North Americans or I suppose anyone from the northern hemisphere will understand when I say Christmas in (Australia) the summer is very hard to get used to.  The days are too long to put up lights so things look a bit bare. Especially when I grew up in a town in mid west America and the houses were lit up like the houses in Chevy Chase's movie Christmas Vacation.

I have gotten over the fact we don't have many lights if any and I am even used to having Christmas in summer, as strange as it feels at times. But I never got used to not having American food for Christmas.

So this year we are having an American Christmas with food I have found at USA foods.com  in Melbourne.

Yesterday I made an enormous pumpkin pie. Americans don't eat pumpkins, the vegetables,  as Australians do. And no the pumpkins that Australians eat are not the jack-o-lantern pumpkins. They are an entirely different variety and quite like a big squash.  They taste differently but are very good. There is also butternut pumpkin. But I digress. Americans eat pumpkin pie using Libby's pie mix from a tin. I know, I know, I have heard it all before but I grew up on this stuff and I love it. Must be the cinnamon and nutmeg that is in it. Today a couple of our Aussie friends are having it. Wonder what they'll think of it.

My "American Pumpkin Pie" 

We'll also have a ham smothered in cloves and pineapple slices. American potato salad which has mayonnaise and mustard in it along with some paprika over the top for a bit of colour with the potatoes and eggs. There will also be sweet potato casserole and of course cranberry sauce, not the berries but the gelled sauce.  Before anyone goes 'ew' or 'ug'  just remember some of your own memories of things you ate as a child and see if you could talk to someone else in another country about it without having to answer their odd looks. That is the fun of multi-culturism.

Our neighbour across the street also gave us 500 grams (1 lb) of sour cherries from her tree. Not the type of cherries I happily pop into my mouth as they are too tart.  I dug out some of my old cook books. It seems most of the recipes for pies are anything other than cherries and not wanting to make another pie crust I looked for a cake recipe.

Using a tin can to cut out round biscuits (American
biscuits are more like flat scones- they are not cookies)
Check out the size of those pancakes on the right.
I have a lot of cookbooks but my favourite cookbooks have always been those from the deep south of the USA.  As much as I love Asian food of all sorts and Turkish food and African food and the Australian staple of meat and three veg, nothing is such a comfort as the cooking of the deep south of the U.S.A.  I am referring to the 'real' cooking of the deep south before things came out of freezers, ready made, processed or tinned.

The book I pulled out was Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook- featuring Fried Green Tomatoes, Southern Barbecue, Banana Split Pie and other wonderful things like Southern Fried Chicken, grits and okra.

An old ice cream parlour. I can only
imagine how good that home made
ice cream would have been.

This book came out after the movie,  "Fried Green Tomatoes" with the wonderful late Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates.

The food featured in the film always looked so delicious with their big pots of mashed potatoes and bbq and everything else that would have been good in a southern diner.

Although I didn't find the cherry cake recipe I wanted in this book I did spend a bit of time enjoying the old black and white photos of the food, kitchens and people as well as reading the wonderful recipes.  It is one of those books if I were to ever do one of those cook book challenges where you blog about a recipe of the day this would be the book I chose. However I would no doubt double in size, at least and my cholesterol levels would look like a basketball score at the league finals.

Instead I decided to share this book with you instead of actually eating too much from it.
When looking up the dessert section I thoroughly enjoyed the excerpt about Christmas fruit cakes.  I have never been a big fan of Christmas fruit cakes but I have over the years become used to them a bit more.  I can now eat a bit of one and quite enjoy it, if it is moist and I have a nice cup of coffee or tea.  But this paragraph had me laughing out loud.

"There are no fruitcake recipes in this book. That's for a very sound nutritional reason. I hate fruitcake. I have been and continue to be tortured and tormented with fruitcakes every Christmas. Friends that I adore send me a fruitcake every year and I am running out of people to give them to. My mailman won't take them anymore. He says he'd rather have cash. So would I.  I am beginning to wonder if my friends are sending fruitcakes that someone sends them. Maybe there are only about ten fruitcakes in the world and they are just being sent all over the country like a fruitcake chain letter. Anyhow, I can see no purpose whatsoever for the stuff except for target practice or home insulation."

I hope everyone enjoys a bit of 'home made' comfort food today.  What is your own comfort food?


  1. Merry Christmas, Pam! I'm not a big fan of pumpkin pie myself, but we always had it both at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our tradition has always been Christmas candy, and though I'm on my own this year, I still made fudge and peanut brittle, and now it feels like Christmas. I just need to take it in to work after the break because I really can't eat it all. I do suddenly have a hankering for potato salad...

    1. Peanut brittle! I'd forgotten about peanut brittle. I LOVE it. Sounds like you're eating good things for Christmas. Thank you for visiting here and all the best for the New Year.

  2. Hope you had a lovely Christmas, Pam. It reached close to 40 degrees in Perth today, and the rest of the week is forecast to be even hotter, so I have no inclination to cook. Thai green curry for lunch and gnocchi for dinner, and the kids have feasted on as much ice cream and jelly and plum pudding as they could manage. We plan to spend the rest of the week in the pool.

    1. Thank you Karyn. I was just reading about the monster heat wave it appears you'll have right to the end of the year. Don't envy you but nice you have a pool to hide out in. I'd be happy for a few more degrees here. Hope your holiday is going well also and all the very best for you, your family and your " Penguining" for 2013.

  3. A delicious meal with great company and plenty of laughs, a merry Christmas dinner. .....with ham and potato salad for breakfast on boxing day.


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