Monday, December 27, 2010


“It’s a great treat to be at home and to have had Christmas here. . .  Thursday a.m. we pulled down the blinds and had the tree. It was piled full at the foot, besides the table. A huge Christmas was had by all. Myrtle Dobson, Christmas 1933

As we await the arrival of Hallie and Nick today, December 27, I thought of the Dobson Christmas of 1933, when my dad was supposed to join the family for Christmas but didn't. There was a storm that year, with lots of precipitation down the west coast into California. Evidently my dad decided the weather was too bad for travel and gave up the trip to spend the holiday with friends in Seattle. His sister, Myrtle (quoted above) came by train from Portland without much difficulty. The problem was that my dad didn't send word that he had changed his plans -- if indeed he had ever really planned to come -- and that was regrettable, of course. 

Anyway, they held the "tree" for him for several days, finally determined he wasn't coming, and went ahead to open their gifts a day or two after Christmas. I thought of this particular correspondence because by pre-arrangement we are holding our "tree." The new tradition is "flexibility." Nick and Hallie are on their way -- woo-hoo! -- and we anticipate no travel difficulties today.

I spent Christmas Day afternoon making sacks for gifts out of holiday fabrics. This past year I gave away all but a few rolls of my large, slowly-dwindling stash of holiday wrapping paper, and now I stash fabric instead -- much more satisfactory and better use of storage space. But -- I was still slow to get started with the holiday bag production. It feels good to have made some progress. 

Here's Vance's recipe for shrimp aspic which he always made for the Christmas Eve buffet. He wrote the recipe on the back of a piano recital program from Tuesday, April 15, 1958. We always used the left-over recital programs for scratch paper. Because this piece of paper is well-worn, I am confident this is the recipe he used.

1 tbsp gelatin softened in 1/2 cup cold water
Bring to a boil 3/4 cup of water and 1 tbsp of lemon juice
Dissolve gelatin in hot mixture.
When cool add 3/4 cup of cocktail sauce.
Add a little red coloring, 1 tbsp of finely chopped onion, 2 tbsps of finely chopped celery, 2 tbsps of finely chopped green pepper and ditto chopped dill pickle. Add 2 tsps sugar.
Layer gelatin mixture with 2 cans of shrimp or crab meat and 4 of 5 hard-boiled eggs coarsely chopped.

Mother had a set of molds that hung on the wall in the kitchen, and Daddy set the aspic in one of the molds -- the fish, I think. Sometimes it unmolded beautifully, sometimes it didn't. Oh well.

Hmmmm. I don't know if I want to try this recipe or not. I'm not sure about that dill pickle thing . . . The shrimp aspic was popular with the family, though, and many still make it. KW


Chris said...

Hmmm, this recipe sounds interesting. So the shrimp and the hard boiled eggs are layered not stirred in?

The last molded salad I made didn't want to come out and some of it landed down the inside of my blouse when it finally decided to come loose. Definitely a cold, slimy experience.

I'll be thinking of you all having fun over the next couple of days! Merry Christmas! :-)

Kathy said...

I guess I'm not a real fan of the aspic because I've never made it. At buffets I would take just a little on my plate. But here's a message that sister Harriet sent:
I have made the aspic recipe many times and everyone enjoys it. Yes, I do include dill pickle. The problem I found with the recipe is that if you put everything in, it is too much and won't hold together when unmolded. I cut back just a tiny bit on all the included ingredients except the gelatin ingredients. It unmolds easily with the Tupperware mold that unseals on the bottom. Last few times I used the recipe I just stirred it all together and that works just fine.

I was thinking I might try it for New Year's, but I don't have a mold. I would just mix it up and serve it from the bowl.