Monday, December 20, 2010

Keep Christmas Eve Simple, but Sacred

Here is a festive, but simple Christmas eve supper.  I always try to keep the menu green and red.  Maybe you can take a couple of these ideas to add to your customary fare. I simplify the menu to keep the emphasis on the reason for the season, a celebration of Christ's coming birth!

First course, virgin strawberry Bacardi.  This is simple to make.  Get the strawberry Barcardi in the frozen food section, usually next to the frozen oj and lemonade. I blend it using less water than called for on the can, but adding a couple of cups of ice cubes to the blender. In your glass ware, carefully pour in the slushy mixture, add frozen whole strawberries and a slice of lemon for garnish.

Second course, broccoli soup.  I have used this recipe for years, and it is never-fail. You can make it ahead and simply warm it in the crock pot a couple of hours before you eat.

Fresh Broccoli Soup

2- 1 pound lunches of fresh broccoli
2 cups water
a can chicken broth
a teaspoon dried whole marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 large carrots, scraped and sliced
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 skim milk

Cut broccoli in one nice pieces, removing leaves and touch lower stalks.  Combine everything except milk in  a dutch oven cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until veggies are tender.

Remove 2 cups of the flowerets from soup mixture with slotted spoon; set aside.  Spoon half soup mixture into blender, process until smooth.  Repeat with rest of soup.  (You can chill all of the soup until an hour or so before serving.)

Put soup mixture and milk and reserved broccoli flowerets into crock pot.  Warm until thoroughly heated.

Makes about 6 cups of soup.

Third course, hot chicken salad cooked in individual red ramekins, peas with pearl onion, and spinach salad dotted with pomegranate seeds and fresh mushroom slices, and dinner rolls.  

You can make this a day ahead to eliminate the last minute rush.

Hot Chicken Salad

4 cups cold cubed chicken
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon slat
2 cups chopped celery
4 hardboiled eggs
3/4 cups cream of chicken soup
1 teaspoon minced onion
2 pomentoes chopped
1 and 1/2 cup crushed potato chips
1 cup grated cheese
2/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
Combine all ingredients except cheese, chips, and almonds in ramekins.  Top with cheese, chips, then almonds.  Refrigerate overnight.  Bake 400 decrees for 20 minutes.

Serve with spinach salad. (Wash spinach, then toss with pomegranate seeds, fresh mushroom slices, and toss with Raspberry vinaigrette dressing.)

The fourth course is peppermint pie.  Purchase an Oreo cookie crust and peppermint ice cream.  Thaw the ice cream and place in pie crust.  Freeze.  After slicing, top with mint sprigs and maraschino cherry.

After our Christmas Eve supper, we open some gifts, and attend a ten p.m. candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols.

If you aren't familiar with the Service of Lessons and Carols, it began in Cornwall, England on Christmas Eve in 1880.  The a medieval liturgy began with the lessons on the fall of man. Subsequent lessons illustrated the story of redemption, from the Old and New Testaments, each supplemented with carols about Christ's coming. 

By 1918, the service had jelled into nine lessons and carols arranged by the newly appointed dean of the King's College in Cambridge, Eric Milner-White. 

The dean's order of Scripture readings has remained constant, but the carols can vary from year to year. As he explained, "The main theme is the development of the loving purposes of God...seen through the windows and words of the Bible."

Traditionally, the service begins with "Once in David's Royal City" with readings given by participants starting with the youngest and culminating with the most revered member of the community.  The Scriptures for the lessons are as follows:

Lesson 1:  Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19
Lesson 2:  Genesis 22:15-18
Lesson 3:  Isaiah 9:2, 6, 6
Lesson 4:  Isaiah 11:1-3a, 4a, 6-9
Lesson 5:  Luke 1:26-35, 38
Lesson 6:  Luke 2: 3-7
Lesson 7:  Luke 2:8-16
Lesson 8:  Matt 2:1-12
Lesson 9:  John 1:1-14

In 1928, the service began to be broadcast on the BBC, a custom which continues to the present.

Happily, the tradition spread to America, with the first carols service in this country performed at Appleton Chapel in Harvard Yard in December 1909.  

Today, the Service of Lessons and Carols is performed during the advent season all over the world.

If your church doesn't have such a service, inaugurate one in your family.  Begin with the youngest reading member of the family and proceed to the patriarch who can read the final lesson.  To keep everyone's attention, intersperse carols.

I pray that you and yours have a joy-full celebration of the Savior's birth.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. Candlelight service is just the most beautiful, peaceful time isn't it?! Thanks for sharing some of your traditions and the simple pleasures that add warmth and beauty to the table! Looks delish!