Holiday flavors in your own backyard

A universal pleasure:
Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa may draw different crowds, but they all gather around a dinner table. Food has the ability to make us feel comfortable and nostalgic. Holiday dishes often are rooted in individual cultures and family memories. For the juniors interviewed, the recipes they make during the holidays reconnect them to their cultural and familial traditions.

Annelisa Crabtree’s Christmas Vanille Kipferin
Backstory: “When I was little, I was the one who always got to roll them in powdered sugar. Now I make the entire thing. It’s a tradition that I know my family has and my mom’s family had before us.”
How to: Mix and knead 250 grams of flour, 200 grams of butter, 100 grams of sugar, 100 grams of peeled ground almonds and ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Form the dough into small crescent shapes and bake at 375 degrees for nine minutes. Once cooled, roll the crescents in sugar, let sit for 1-2 days for greater flavor.

Liz Hall’s New Year’s Eve Oreo Pops
Backstory: “We usually end up making them on New Year’s Eve. We started making them about six years ago and have made them every New Year’s Eve since.”
How to: Crush one packet of Oreos with one softened eight ounce block of cream cheese, then shape into small balls. Dip in melted chocolate and let harden.

Ayumi Matsuda’s Christmas Rivera-Pan de Jamón
Backstory: “We eat it for Christmas dinner. We’ve been making it since my great-grandmother.”
How to: Unroll a Pillsbury French Loaf, and then fill with three cups of raisins, one cup of chopped olives, one tablespoon of butter, and chopped ham as desired. Re-roll and bake on a greased baking sheet for 28 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Enjoy!

Tracy Soon’s Chinese New Year Pork Dumplings
Backstory: “For Chinese New Year, we always have steamed fish, pork dumplings and oranges. Cooking instructions are passed on orally. On a side note, the steamed fish I mentioned stands for ‘remainder’ because both ‘fish’ and ‘remainder’ have a similar pronunciation (yu), so when you eat it, you have to leave some leftovers to ensure prosperity in the new year.”
How to: In a medium bowl, mix ½ pound of ground pork, 1-2 chopped green onions, 3-5 diced shiitake mushrooms and a bit of soy sauce. Make meatballs with an inch in diameter and place in round dumpling skin. Using water and fingers, wet the edges and fold each dumpling in half. Pinch the skin around the meat. Boil. When they rise to the surface, they are done!