Memorial Day

May 25, 2020

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day in which we remember those who died fighting for our country.  While I do not personally know anyone who gave the ultimate sacrifice for my country, I do know several who went to fight.  My grandfather, my father, my uncle, my brother — all gave of their time and their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy. 

Let us not forget those who gave their all protecting liberty, and let us not give away the liberty they died to give us.

More Philippine Christmas Recipes

April 25, 2020

Tsokolate  (Philippine hot chocolate)

6 cups milk
3 cups (18 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 egg yolks

Heat milk until hot in a large saucepan.  Stir in chocolate pieces and heat over low heat until chocolate has melted.  Beat egg yolks slightly.  Whisk into hot milk mixture and beat over low heat until frothy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


LECHE FLAN 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4  egg yolks
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Caramel

  • 10 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. water

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Medium heat large pan or a steamer with a litre of water, you must cover it to get the maximum heat.
  • Prepare a couple Llanera’s or any deep tins, then divide sugar and water on both tins.
  • Heat Llanera on a low fire one at a time until sugar starts to melt, dissolved and syrupy. Turn off the heat when the caramel syrup turns light brown.
  • To coat all sides you must tilt the mold around and continue with the other Llanera and set aside to cool.
  • In a bowl whisk egg yolks and eggs together, pour in condensed and evaporated milk and whisk, vanilla extract and continue to whisk until combined. Use a strainer and a ladle to transfer milk mixture into tins to get rid lumpy bits and air bubbles.
  • Steam for about 30 minutes with a cloth under the lid, to catch water drippings and avoid flan from soggy.
  • Check with a toothpick if it comes out clean your done.
  • Turn off the fire and transfer on a wire rack and let it cool for 10 minutes.
  • Refrigerate Leche flan for about 30 minutes before transferring to a plate.
  • Serve cold

 

PUTO BUMBONG  (a favorite after attending Simbang Gabi)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pack (400 grams) glutinous rice flour
  • 2 Packs (115 grams) purple yam powder
  • 2 1/2 Cups of water
  • Brown sugar or mascuvado (raw sugar)
  • Banana leaves
  • Grated coconut

Utensils:

  • knife
  • muslin cloth
  • sifter or strainer
  • 2 pcs bamboo tube (bumbong)
  • steamer for making puto

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Prepare steamer with enough water for  steaming.
  • In a large bowl, combine purple yam powder and glutinous rice flour , Mix together until well combined.
  • Gradually add enough water to the rice flour to make a dough. Knead until smooth.
  • Pinch off about 2 tablespoons of the dough, using your hands make a ball and roll into a round and long shape, about 4 to 5 inches in long.
  • Spread margarine or butter in a  heat proof plate and layered the dough, steam for 3-4 minutes or until done.
  • Apply margarine or butter then roll in shredded coconut and serve with muscovado sugar.

Christmas in the Philippines

March 24, 2020

jeepneyIs your Christmas celebration too short?  Then celebrate Christmas in the Philippines.  They have to longest Christmas celebration

The cultural diversity of Christmas celebrations in the Philippines is great also.  If one were to observe Christmas in the Philippines one would see Spanish, Chinese, Indian, British, and American Christmas customs interwoven with Philippine Christmas customs to make a truly unique Christmas celebration.

Beginning December 16 many attend a 4:00 A.M. mass.  Everyday for nine days people leave their homes to attend this 4:00 A.M. mass.  These masses are called Simbang Gabi, meaning Night Mass.  These masses lead up to the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass celebrating the birth of the Christ child.  These people do not have to worry about being late to mass.  They may be wakened and hurried on their way by firecrackers, bands playing Christmas carols, carolers, or the village priest going door-to-door waking everyone for mass.

While Christmas carols may be heard on radios and sung in houses and on the streets in the days prior to December 16 they really take off on December 16.  Groups of carolers, some raising money for civic organizations or church groups, are heard every day after December 16.  Popular Filipino carols as well as English songs like “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas” are sung and played for the enjoyment of all.

The Filipino people lavishly decorate for Christmas.  Everything from homes to vehicles, churches to government buildings, stores to office buildings are decorated for Christmas.  City streets and public squares are also adorned with buntings, lights, flowers, and more.

The most popular decoration found in every house, church, and public place is the parol.  Made with bamboo sticks, brightly colored rice paper or cellophane, and usually sporting at least one tassel parols are usually star shaped with lights and, possibly, a nativity scene inside.  Every house, whether in wealthy parts of town or in the poorest villages, is decorated with one or more parols often with every window displaying a parol.  While some parols are purchased from stores or roadside stalls many families make their own.  Parol-making is so popular in the Philippines that many towns, villages, and cities hold contests with big prizes going to the best parol entered.

Christmas trees are found in many Filipino houses; but because of the country’s proximity to the equator, real pine trees are rare and very expensive.  Most people use artificial trees, use other trees or plants as Christmas trees, or make trees out of palm branches, triangular pieces of cardboard, or twigs bundled together in a cone shape spray painted gold, white, or green.  No matter what is used for the Christmas tree, the tree is brightly decorated with tiny star lanterns, candies, fruits, carved wood or bamboo, painted shells, little baskets, tinsel, rice paper ornaments, empty matchboxes wrapped as presents, and, for some, artificial snow.

Watch my website http://www.customsofchristmas.com in the coming weeks for more about Christmas in the Philippines.

Maligayang Pasko!

Two Philippine Christmas Recipes

February 25, 2020

There are a number of dishes that are traditionally eaten during the Christmas season in the Philippines.  I have chosen two recipes to present here.

Puto Bumbong is usually purchased from vendors outside churches and enjoyed by those returning home from Simbang Gabi masses held in the predawn hours each morning from December 16 to December 24.

Rellenong Manok is a deboned, stuffed chicken.  It is said that the proficiency of a cook can be determined by the presentation and deliciousness of their rellenong manok.

Maligayang Pasko! (Merry Christmas!)

Rellenong Manok

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, deboned with shape kept
  • 2 tablespoons calamansi juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Stuffing

  • 1/2 kilo ground pork
  • 1/2 cup bacon, diced
  • 1 cup ham, diced
  • 1 can Vienna sausage, drained and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sweet green peas
  • 1/4 cup carrots, minced
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 5 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  • Marinate chicken in calamansi juice, soy sauce and sugar.
  • In a bowl, mix all stuffing ingredients well.
  • Stuff the chicken in all parts.
  • Sew the cavity opening and truss the chicken.
  • Wrap chicken in aluminum foil.
  • Heat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake breast-up for an hour or until chicken is cooked.
  • Open the foil and rub chicken with butter and put back in oven until golden brown.

Puto Bumbong

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pack (400 grams) glutinous rice flour
  • 2 Packs (115 grams) purple yam powder
  • 2 1/2 Cups of water
  • Brown sugar or mascuvado (raw sugar)
  • Banana leaves
  • Grated coconut

Utensils:

  • knife
  • muslin cloth
  • sifter or strainer
  • 2 pcs bamboo tube (bumbong)
  • steamer for making puto

Cooking Instructions:

  • Prepare steamer with enough water for  steaming.
  • In a large bowl, combine purple yam powder and glutinous rice flour , Mix together until well combined.
  • Gradually add enough water to the rice flour to make a dough. Knead until smooth.
  • Pinch off about 2 tablespoons of the dough, using your hands make a ball and roll into a round and long shape, about 4 to 5 inches in long.
  • Spread margarine or butter in a  heat proof plate and layered the dough, steam for 3-4 minutes or until done.
  • Apply margarine or butter then roll in shredded coconut and serve with muscovado sugar.

Valentine’s Day is coming.

January 25, 2020

I usually share Christmas related traditions that may be celebrated around the world.  However, I found this video on YouTube.com about Valentine’s Day traditions around the world.  Enjoy.

I also want to share my favorite Valentine’s Day special.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Christmas…I mean…Valentines blessings.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2019

I am wishing everyone here a very merry Christmas. Remember who’s birthday we are celebrating. Give Him the gift He is wanting. You.

Happy birthday, Jesus. – Christmas Prayer – Burl Ives

May the Christ of Christmas bless you and keep you.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas For My Family

November 24, 2019

Last month I shared what Christmas was like for me as a child. Now I’ll tell you about how I celebrate Christmas with my wife and children.

Christmas music may be heard anytime during the month of November, but it usually isn’t played exclusively until the day after Thanksgiving. At 12 noon Thanksgiving day our favorite internet Christmas station, https://www.stfrancis.edu/spirit/, begins their all-Christmas programming. They continue playing Christmas music 24/7 until noon on January 2. We also fill our 5-disc CD player with CDs from our Christmas CD collection of well over 50 CDs. I sometimes think we have a larger selection of Christmas music than some radio stations.

We used to put up our outdoor decorations including the lights on our house Thanksgiving weekend. But, because it is frequently unbearably cold that weekend where we are, we started putting the lights on the roofline of our house earlier in the month. We just don’t plug them in until after Thanksgiving.

The Christmas tree is decorated the day after Thanksgiving. Our main tree is a 6-foot slim tree. My son likes to put up our 4-foot tree in the basement. We call it the kids tree. We decide on one of the four color schemes we have, red and silver, blue and silver, purple and silver, and anything goes. I think this year is an anything goes year. We put a lot of lights on the tree including a string of bubble lights.

We have 5 different ways, 4 books and 1 set of ornaments, we rotate through each year for advent. 3 of the books tell a story that is inter-related with the other 2 books to give 3 different perspectives of the days leading up to the birth of Jesus. The main characters go on their own journey while intersecting and interacting with the characters of the other 2 books.

Our church has a Christmas program put on by kids in the church. The program is put on the first weekend of December. Through the years several of my children have taken part in the Christmas program. This year my youngest daughter is in the program, my middle daughter is helping out with it, and one of my sons is handling one of the spotlights.

Our church’s adult choir also puts on a Christmas program a week or two after the kids program.

During the month of December the family makes several kinds of cookies and several batches of fudge. Everyone gets to help make cookies. At one time we made all the cookies on one Saturday in December. That quickly became a chore that I dreaded as the number of kinds of cookies grew with the number of children in the family (we have 7 children). Now some of the older children are given the opportunity to make their favorite cookies anytime during December while I make 1 or 2 different kinds of cookies on “Cookie Saturday.”

Christmas morning the children are not allowed out of their rooms except to use the bathroom. They are not to go into the living room with the tree or into the kitchen before Mom or I call them. We fix breakfast of egg casserole and put their stockings out so they can have them during breakfast. Before the gifts are passed around we read the Christmas story out of the Bible or the last chapter of the Advent story book. We always have Christmas music playing while we open gifts usually with a fireplace video playing in our DVD player.

By the time we finish with the gifts it’s almost lunch time. We don’t have the traditional turkey or ham for Christmas. Instead we make an extra cheesy and meaty lasagna. We like doing this because there’s less clean up afterward. This year we’re going to have a couple cheesecakes for dessert instead of pies.

After lunch we play games and enjoy our gifts and each other.

That is our Christmas celebration. How do you celebrate Christmas?

Childhood memories of Christmas

October 25, 2019

Christmas has always been the time of year I look forward to the most. The music is happier. The decorations are bright and jolly.

The radio station I listened to most growing up added Christmas music gradually to the playlist. The first week of December one Christmas song per hour was played after the news at the top of the hour. The second week of December the station added a Christmas song at the bottom of the hour. From the third week to Christmas Eve, Christmas songs were added to the quarter hours. Four Christmas songs an hour, that is the most Christmas music played per hour until 6:00 p.m. Christmas Eve. At 6:00 p.m. Christmas Eve the radio station began a program called The 30 Hours of Christmas. It was wonderful. I remember Santa tracking updates from NORAD, a narrated musical version of A Christmas Carol (I didn’t know until recently that the songs came from the Christmas Carol movie starring Albert Finney) and ad wrappers called The Customs of Christmas telling how certain customs started. (That is where I got the name of my website, customsofchristmas.com.) I went to sleep listening to that station and woke up the next morning listening to that station.

For a number of years we had a real Christmas tree in the house. Sometime in mid-December the whole family piled into car and drove an hour and a half to my grandmother’s house in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains. Then while we kids played with cousins and enjoyed my grandmother’s house my dad hiked back into the forest behind the house to cut down our tree. In later years we just used artificial trees including a silver tree that reflected the Christmas lights wonderfully.

Every December we could look from our kitchen window into the kitchen window of our neighbors’ house and see them baking cookies. We knew it wouldn’t be long before they gave us a large tray full of the Christmas goodies we saw baking.

Christmas morning we kids were not allowed downstairs until mom and dad had breakfast ready for us. We finally were allowed to go downstairs. Opening our stocking gifts occurred while we ate. There was always a banana in our stocking to go along with our breakfast. We didn’t do oranges. After breakfast we opened the presents under the tree. After the presents were opened it was time to get ready to go to my other grandparents’ house for Christmas dinner with mom’s side of the family. My parents were never known for being early or on time for anything. We usually were baking one of the turkeys for dinner so we could count on phone calls asking us to hurry up. We finally made it. My grandparents’ house was full with most if not all my mom’s 6 brothers and sisters, their spouses, and children. Talk about bedlam. After dinner, or was it before I don’t remember, there were more gifts to open. As the day advanced, games appeared, new and old, adults talked of family happenings, and others went outside to frolic in the snow and play outdoor games.

It was late before we finally left for home tired but happy.

That was my childhood Christmas. Please tell us about your childhood Christmas in the comments below. I would love to hear your story.

Poland’s Christmas Dishes

September 25, 2019

Last month I presented some of Poland’s Christmas traditions.  Now I will post some links to recipes for some traditional Polish Christmas dishes.  But, first, some fun with this little video.

 

http://www.pwaa.org/Polish_Christmas_Recipes.htm

https://culture.pl/en/article/the-12-dishes-of-polish-christmas

http://www.polskafoods.com/polish-recipes/how-polish-christmas-wigilia-recipes

https://www.polishyourkitchen.com/polishrecipes/polish-word-of-the-day-christmas/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/polish-christmas-dessert-recipes-1136988

Happy eating!

 

Christmas in Poland

August 25, 2019

Upside down Christmas treeChristmas in Poland is all about family. As often as possible Christmas activities are done by the whole family together.

Modern Christmas trees, pajaki, did not appear in Poland until the 1800’s. Early Polish Christmases did not see a Christmas tree. Instead elaborate, handmade mobiles were hung from the ceiling. In the 1800’s in southern Poland tops of fir trees were cut and hung upside-down from the ceiling. This allowed for more room for the family while still giving them a chance to hang their ornate, handmade decorations.   Once the custom of bringing whole Christmas trees into the house began the popularity of mobiles and upside-down trees waned until they finally disappeared. Christmas trees may be set up any time during Advent; but, traditionally, they are not set up until the afternoon of Wigilia, December 24. Many people do not take them down until the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady, February 2. Homemade garlands, paper cut-outs, apples, nuts, candy, and small cakes decorate the trees along with store-bought decorations, strings of electric lights, strings of peas, beans, and corn and blown-out egg shells painted with intricate designs.

Nativity scenes are often placed under the Christmas tree to be joined by the family’s gifts later.

Creating and sending Christmas cards is becoming more popular in Poland. It provides the family a great time of making and sending Christmas cheer to friends and loved ones.

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Like Advent celebrations in other parts of the world it is a time for reflection and fasting preparing oneself for the coming of the Christ child. A number of saints’ days are celebrated during Advent, St. Martin on November 11, St. Catherine on November 25, St. Andrew on November 30, St. Barbara on December 4, St. Nicholas on December 6, St. Lucy on December 13, and St. Thomas on December 21.

On December 24 everyone prepares for Wigilia. Wigilia is considered the first of the twelve days of Christmas or Gody in Poland. The house is given a thorough cleaning with attention given to barns and other outbuildings as well. Many families also visit family graves placing evergreen boughs or small evergreen trees on them. Food preparation is also a major component of Wigilia. The scrumptious smells permeating the house test the piety of the household as they are still in a period of fasting. Hay is placed either under the tablecloth or as part of the centerpiece to commemorate Christ’s birth in a stable. As evening draws near children make it a game to see who sees the first star to appear. The Wigilia feast starts with the appearance of the first star or 6:00 p.m. whichever comes first. The family enjoys many fish and/or vegetable dishes at this feast as eating meat is not allowed until Christmas day. After the feast, usually the eldest family member present reads the Nativity story followed by the family singing Christmas carols. Following the singing comes the gift-giving. Larger, more expensive gifts are for the children while smaller, more personalized gifts go to adults.

At midnight many families head to the church to attend Pasterka, Shepherd’s Mass. After mass some families will spend the night visiting friends, neighbors, or relatives.

Christmas day is spent with the immediate family. Now that the fasting of Advent is over the main meal at Christmas, served in mid-afternoon, features lots of meat.

December 26, St. Stephen’s Day, is almost treated like a second Christmas. Many families spend the day visiting friends and extended family members.

New Year’s Eve, the seventh day of Christmas (Gody), is celebrated with loud parties with family or friends

New Year’s Day, also known as the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, is a day for playing tricks on friends and family members.

The twelfth day of Christmas (Gody) falls on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. This day commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.

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