We really did go “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go” to get to my grandmother’s house, and “the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow, ohhh” fits nicely too because we did get to go on horse-drawn sleigh rides, complete with jingle bells—just like the children’s song recounts.
Christmastime meant gathering in the front room, Grandma Luthy would sit next to the tree and pass out the presents. There was a present from a cousin, and one from Grandma. Grandma almost always made us something for Christmas, sewed, crocheted, or hand crafted. One year she gave all of us journals, and I wrote in it faithfully nearly every day. She had one herself, and one day I would love to read it through and learn more about her life.
Games were a big part of the day. The grown ups would hoot and holler and laugh as they played hearts around the kitchen table. We kids would set up card tables and play games too, Monopoly, Slap Jack, and Old Maid, were favorites. I loved the Disney puzzles Grandma kept there for us. I liked the Donald Duck one the best, with Mickey being a close second. It was fun too, to play in the bedrooms. I liked to go through my “secret passage” —I could go in the closet in one bedroom, and come out the closet in the other bedroom. I would pretend to do a “disappearing” act, and then suddenly reappear in the doorway. Oh what fun we had.
Grandma and her grandchildren — about 1973
Christmas at Grandma’s meant snowball fights with the cousins, sleigh rides with Uncle Bill’s big horses pulling the sleigh, bells jingling in the crisp winter air, and the kids bundled up, gliding along the snow covered lane, singing Christmas songs as we rode.
And of course, Christmas meant wonderful food. I loved to eat Grandma’s rolls with homemade jams and jellies. Baked ham, mashed potatoes and gravy were often the main dishes, with salads, pickles, and olives (for putting on fingers of course) on the side. It was always good food.
After we were stuffed, we had to wait awhile, and then Grandma would bring out dessert — hard candies in the shape of ribbons, black licorice wrapped in gold and black striped foil, Grandma’s honey candy, and of course her signature cakes, cookies, and pies, mmmmmm.
Grandma always froze huckleberries from the summer picking, and then for a special Christmas treat, she made huckleberry pie. And if you were lucky, you got to have a small piece with a scoop of vanilla ice cream before it was all gone. She also made carrot pudding, steaming it in quart jars placed in a steam bath. The best part was the toffee sauce; a smooth, rich, buttery sauce. This decadent dessert was served in her little, glass gold-rimmed dessert bowls, the perfect size for the toffee topped goodness.
Carrot pudding like Grandmas’ (in fact both of my grandmas made steamed carrot pudding) has been a long-time favorite of mine. I found a crock pot carrot pudding recipe that is nearly the same as Grandma’s steamed pudding to share today.
Crock Pot Carrot Pudding
1 c. sugar 2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt 1 1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 c. shortening 1/2 c. chopped nuts
1 c. grated apple 1 c. grated potato
1 c. grated carrots 1 c. raisins
Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Cut in shortening until it is the size of peas. Add chopped nuts, stir to coat. Add grated apples, carrots, potato, and raisins. Stir to coat with flour mixture. Grease crock, transfer pudding mix to crockpot. Cover and cook on low heat 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours — check at 1 1/2 hours (crock pots time/temp varies) done when center is cooked through. Serve warm or cold with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. half-n-half (or whipping cream)
1/2 c. butter
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c. water
Whisk corn starch into 1/2 c. water; set aside. Over low heat melt butter, add half-n-half, brown sugar, and salt stirring constantly; slowly increase heat to medium. Bring to a boil; add cornstarch/water mixture return to boil, boil one minute. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Serve warm over pudding.