I’m writing this as I’m about to fly home to Alaska for the holidays. It’s always exciting to be going home to spend time with family, friends, and as many of you as I can.
This trip has me particularly excited because Christmas is right around the corner, and I’m ready to be in the spirit. I’m ready to be with my daughters and my wife in front of our Christmas tree. I’m ready to drive through neighborhoods, looking at the beautiful Christmas lights. I’m ready for hot chocolate and cookies and laughter.
Maybe it’s because we are so much closer to Santa Claus than any other state, but we have extra Christmas joy in Alaska like nowhere else.
Last year in my Christmas message, I wrote a little about my family’s holiday traditions. One tradition is caroling in the neighborhood a few days before Christmas. I may not have perfect pitch, but my girls are all great singers and our neighbors are very patient.
Before Christmas, I always take the girls out to buy something for hard-to-shop-for Julie. She says she already has everything she needs and wants. But we somehow manage to find something special, and the girls are always so excited to wrap her present and put it under the tree, alongside books and peanut M&Ms for me – my favorite gifts. [xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]On Christmas Eve during my childhood, my family would eat “Lobster Newburg,” one of the most special meals of the year. So naturally I began to carry on that tradition when Julie and I were married and moved to Alaska, with a little tweak. Now we call it “Alaska Seafood Newburg” using Alaska shrimp, king crab, and scallops – sharing our meal with dear family and friends who jokingly call it the “3000-calorie Christmas Eve dinner.” The recipe for that dish is below.
This year, I asked Alaskans on my Facebook page to post their favorite holiday recipes. Some of the recipes from Alaskans look so good that Julie and I might have to give them a try. I’ve included some of those recipes below too.
On Christmas Eve, full of seafood and cream and butter, we usually head out to midnight Mass, which was a tradition from Julie’s childhood in Fairbanks. It brings back memories of the Northern Lights and the North Star shining so brightly on the way to Mass, reminding us of another star shining bright, leading shepherds and wise men to the Prince of Peace.
At church, we say prayers for the homeless, the hungry, the sick, and those who have fallen on hard times.
We say prayers for our men and women in uniform who aren’t home for Christmas. We say prayers for all who aren’t as blessed as we are. And we say prayers for all of you.
To serve you is an honor and a gift beyond measure. Thank you so much for that. Happy Hanukkah and very Merry Christmas, Alaska. Know that my door is always open.
Alaska Seafood Newburg
submitted by Julie and Dan Sullivan
2/3 cup butter
6 T flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups light cream
4 beaten egg yolks
3 cups cooked seafood — shrimp, scallops, king crab or lobster
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 tsp lemon juice
Paprika to taste
Melt butter in skillet. Blend in flour and salt. Remove from heat and gradually stir in cream. Return to heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.
Stir small amount of sauce into egg yolk, and then add this mixture back into the sauce on the stove. Continue stirring and cook until thick.
Add seafood and dry sherry, then lemon juice, salt and paprika. Serve over rice or toast. Serves 8.
Submitted by Robbie Graham and given to her by the “English mum of my best friend in High School.”
6 ounces sugar
1/2 pound butter
2 cups flour
Mix and pat into a non-greased baking dish. Crimp edges with a fork and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cut when warm and enjoy!
Grandma’s Special Jello
Ingredients and directions
One Raspberry Jell-O package. Cut water to ½. Add frozen strawberries, fresh pineapple, 12 oz of Applesauce. Chill. “Perfect sweet treat with Turkey or Ham.”
Ingredients and directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. All ingredients must be at room temperature. Sift into bowl 7/8 c flour and 1/2 t salt. Make a well in center and pour in 1/2 c whole milk. Stir. Beat until fluffy 2 large eggs. Beat into batter. Add 1/2 c water. Beat well until large bubbles form. Melt 1 stick of butter in oven-proof pan. Pour batter into melted butter and bake for 1/2 hour or until pudding rises well above pan. Doubling the recipe makes it suitable for 8 to 10 people.
Caramel Shortbread Squares
Submitted by Becky Hultberg. “It’s my kids’ favorites,” she said.
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
“My favorite Christmas Cookie”
submitted by Joan Laux Powers Tower