Wednesday, November 26, 2014

sounds corny

While I was growing up near Toronto, one of the traditions my family did every year, was to take a day trip to the Toronto Eaton Centre (a historical, six-storey glass-ceiling landmark built before outlets and super-malls ever existed) to see their annual showcase of Christmas trees and window displays.

On an early Saturday morning in December (stores weren't open on Sundays back then), my brother and I would rush through breakfast and our family would take an hour long drive to the Eaton Centre, wearing our snowsuits, hats and mitts (there seemed to be more snow back then), sweating in the car long before our arrival to the world's longest wait to get a parking spot at our destination.

Our parents then clutched our hands as we maneuvered amongst other excited children as we entered the front door of the big department store called Simpsons, where the Christmas trees were displayed. As a child, it seemed like a Winter Storybook/Wonderland was created, and my brother and I would visit Santa, stare in amazement at all the beautifully lit and decorated trees, pick out one special toy we wanted, and purchase as many presents on our lists for family and friends. We'd then go to the World's Biggest Book store next door to get a few Christmas books, then head out to Chinatown for a quick dinner before heading home. It was always a big and exciting day.

It was a Christmas ritual that faded as department stores closed or moved, and retailers put less effort into the magic of Christmas, and more into the commercialization of it.  Other than the craze for the Cabbage Patch Kids, the Star Wars Millennium Falcon and MonChiChi Monkeys (I dare you to Google down memory lane for that one), one of my most fondest memories weren't the toys under the tree, but the day when the Christmas season officially began for us...our trip to the Eaton Centre.

Now the Christmas season seems to begin when the flurry of ads for Black Friday sales dominate, enticing everyone to trample each other hurry in to get the cheapest TV, just in time for the Christmas season.  As much as I love sales, I wonder if we'll have a generation who will only associate the start of this magical season by the sounds of cash registers and hours of lining up at the mall.

Maybe it sounds corny, but as Thanksgiving is celebrated south of the border, I'll be thankful to continue our own holiday traditions, starting the season by making our annual gingerbread houses, setting up the tree on the first weekend of December and avoiding the aggravation of long line ups this Friday.

Tarragon Creamed Corn
(makes approximately 6-8 servings)

This is a great dish to go with turkey for the holidays.  The sweet corn balances the creamy texture, making it a comforting cold weather side dish.

  • 8 ears of corn on the cob
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 small shallot, finely chopped 
  • 4 sprigs tarragon (or 3 tsp. of dried)
  • 1  cup heavy cream (I used table cream)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • Remove kernels from the corn (I find it easiest to cut the corn in half first, then with the flat end down, with a sharp knife, slice downwards to remove the kernels).  Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add corn kernels and 3/4 cup water.  (When there is an abundance of corn in the summer, I cook the corn, remove the kernels and freeze them.  You can omit adding water if you use pre-cooked corn...just use the back of a spoon to press out the "juice" out of the corn)
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook, until corn is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add cream, parmesan, tarragon; simmer, uncovered, until cream has thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

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