Family traditions are one of the things that make your grown children want to come home for the holidays.  It’s what makes the memories.  I am not sure how this Christmas Eve tradition got started for us, but I think it was because my kids would both very happily eat pasta of any form, anytime.  I was so stressed out by the time Christmas Eve rolled around that I wanted no arguments or sour faces.  It began with three different pastas and sauce eaten in front of the fire when the kids were little; Ziti with Marinara, Fettuccini Alfredo and Ravioli (homemade sauce, but bought pasta).  Somehow it progressed over the years into an all-out six course, fully homemade sit-down tablecloth dinner.  In the last several years, the cooking has become a family affair-woe to any girlfriend who does not cook.  You ARE cooking on Christmas Eve.  Fortunately, we’ve got a cooking group now with one new permanent member-the lovely Michelle who has recently become my Daughter-In-Law.  Secretly, I think this evening is like Survivor for likely long-term girlfriends.  If you survive and are not voted out of the kitchen, you’ve got potential to be a Kieffer. We tried the seven fishes a few times; last year being one of them and we did it the traditional Italian way with salt cod and sardines.  Everyone always wants to return to the seven pastas.  No surprise there;  so we do. Here was this year’s menu: Charcuterie Plate of Cured Meats and Cheeses (non-cooking hubby’s contribution) from DiBruno’s, Gorgonzola and Spinach Tarts (Michelle’s creation), Turkey Soup with Sage Dumplings, Seasonal Greens with a Lemon Vinaigrette and a Piave Cheese Crisp, Orecchiette with Cream (Jace), Pici Bolognaise (Grant), Gnocchi with Crab and Brown Butter, and Strozzapreti with Preserved Lemon and Spinach.  For dessert?  Tiramisu.  All homemade from the pasta to the crème fraiche.  Carbs anyone?

Here’s a brief pictorial visit to that evening:

Gorgonzola and Spinach Tarts

Gorgonzola and Spinach Tarts

Turkey Soup with Sage Dumplings

Turkey Soup with Sage Dumplings

The Cheese Crisp Base for a Simple Salad

The Cheese Crisp Base for a Simple Salad

No One's Crabby with This Gnocchi

No One’s Crabby with This Gnocchi

Some of the Kitchen Crew

Some of the Kitchen Crew

The Kitchen Crew of the Non-Human Variety

The Kitchen Crew of the Non-Human Variety

Why Does Nothing Fall??

Why Does Nothing Fall??

Ready for the Preserved Lemon and SpinachStrozzapreti

Ready for the Preserved Lemon and Spinach Strozzapreti

Bolognaise with Pici

Bolognaise with Pici

This year we made it through the Gnocchi, but everyone gave up on the last two courses so the Strozzapreti went into the freezer for the day after Christmas (the prep was all done-yea!!) and the Tiramisu was eaten the following day after Christmas Dinner.  As we sat around the fire that evening looking like a bunch of Budas we talked about…what else…what to make next Christmas Eve, 2014.  It’s never too early to plan when tradition is involved.