Today we have opened our blog to a guest blogger!
Kendra Thornton is a Travel advocate, TV Spokesperson, PR Buisness Woman, a proud wife and mother of 3.
Kendra is an expert on travel, having been the Director of Corporate Communications at Orbitz prior to founding Thornton Public Relations ( http://www.thorntonpr.com/chicago-public-relations.html) in 2005.
You can find Kendra on Twitter at https://twitter.com/KendraThornton or Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/pin/112730796896321228/ or Gogobot at http://www.gogobot.com/blog/2013/12/05/green-v-white-urban-winter-holidays/
Kendra talks about her Christmas Family Tradition in Chicago.
It is Christmas time again! Everyone has pep in their step and the music is more magical than any other time of the year. People are scurrying to put presents under the tree before Christmas morning. It is always a winter wonderland here in Chicago! There is an endless amount of fun and excitement to be had. Since my family is Norwegian, there are certain traditions that are part of our heritage. Some of the best are the traditional foods and drinks we serve.
The family gathers every year on Christmas Eve. We work together and make lefse and kringla. Everyone must ‘shoot’ a raw oyster down his or her throat simultaneously, which is always a laugh. We follow that with a hearty bowl of oyster stew. Then we have a toast with a shot of Akvavit, which is a Scandinavian spirit that is very strong and warms the stomach. No toast would be complete if we did not shout ‘Skol,’ which is the Norwegian way of saying ‘Cheers!’
There are many traditions that my kids enjoy as well. They like to go ice-skating and help decorate the tree in our bay window. They always help me prepare the huge Norwegian feast and we always leave a plate of cookies for Santa. Their favorite tradition is to make reindeer dust, which we sprinkle outside their windows to help the reindeer find our house. Once everything is done, we cozy up to a mug of hot chocolate and then we head to bed.
In a former job, I traveled all over the world. I know now that there is nothing that compares to being home for the holidays. What would Christmas be without my wonderful family and the beautiful Chicago snow? On Gogobot, there was an article talking about warm holiday and cold holidays. Since I have been to a variety of warm places over the holidays, I know that it does not do Christmas justice. I could not give up the snow, evergreen trees and ice skates for sand, palm trees and roller-blades. What is your hometown like for the holidays?
We grew up with a cold Christmas and that is what works best for the Thornton family. This year we are blessed to be able to stay home and welcome our wonderful family to our dinner table. Everyone came over for Thanksgiving and it was an unforgettable holiday. Hopefully you enjoy lots of good food, great laughs and wonderful people this holiday season. Merry Christmas from the Thornton family!
Tell us about some of your Family Christmas Traditions!
No matter who you are cheering for in the Superbowl, there is one winner for everyone…
A little history about Chili
The full name is Chili con carne. In Spanish, the “chili” refers to a chile pepper and the “carne” means meat. American frontier settlers would make it with dried beef, suet (a fatty meat or mutton), dried chili peppers and salt. They would take this mixture and pound it together to form bricks and left to dry. When they were ready to use it, they would boil it in pots on the trail.
At the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the San Antonio Chili Stand would help people from other parts of the country taste and appreciate chili. Chili con carne, better known as just chili, would become the official dish of Texas in 1977.
San Antonio, a tourist destination, would play a big role in introducing chili to America. During the 1880s women who were dressed in brightly dressed Mexican outfits would come to be known as “Chili Queens”. They would appear at dusk in public gathering places in San Antonio and build charcoal or wood fires to reheat cauldrons of precooked chili and sell bowls to passersby. The aroma was a potent sales pitch with mariachi street musicians joining in to serenade the eaters. This industry would all by disappear overnight in 1937 when the San Antonio Health Department implemented new sanitary regulations. San Antonio’s “mercado” or semi-permanent stands were renovated in the 1970s and they began staging historic re-enactments of the chili queens’ heyday. The Unofficial re-enactment is “Return of the Chili Queens Festival” held in April.
Hundreds of small, family-run chili parlors or “chili joints” could be found throughout Texas and other states before World War II. As early as 1904, chili parlors were opening outside of Texas. Each would claim to have some kind of “secret recipe”. In the 1920s and 1930s chains of diner-style “chili parlors” grew up in the Midwest. As of 2005, one of these old-fashioned chili parlors still exists in downtown St. Louis.
Speaking of “Secret Recipes” I have a “Secret Recipe” for Wendy’s Chili. This is what we made today for the Superbowl. I have to tell you it is very close to the original recipe. The only thing missing it the “Frosty” afterwards!
Wendy’s Secret Recipe Chili
Makes about 12 servings
2 pounds ground beef
One 29 ounce can tomato sauce
One 29 ounce can kidney beans, drained
One 29 ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced green chili – I used 2 serrano peppers
1/4 cup diced celery – about one stalk
3 medium tomatoes, chopped – I don’t like a lot of tomatoes in ours so I used 3 Roma tomatoes
2 teaspoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
(To make it hotter or spicy – add more black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. We love it with it)
Brown the ground beef and onions and then drain off the fat. Place in a crock pot. Add the remaining ingredients and turn on. Let cook through the day, at least 2 to 3 hours. Stir throughout the day.
Serve with cheddar cheese and sour cream on top.
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