A Tasty Christmas Eve Tradition
In our family, there has to be Tourtière at Christmas time. It’s one of those traditions that everyone loves and expects after church on Christmas Eve. If we’re visiting my parents at the farm, church is a 45 minute drive either way. By the time we begin eating the Tourtière, appetizers, and treats, it’s usually around 1 am. Having full tummies helps us withstand the gauntlet of frenzied present opening. This merry making that often lasts until 3 or 4 in the morning! It was pretty brutal when my kids were small, but they are older now and can deal with it. Now the whole family is able to have a good sleep-in Christmas morning.
The Magic of Christmas
Our last two Christmases have been here in Calgary. We celebrate Christmas Eve a little differently here in the city. Now that the kids are older, we can give them the gift of charity by volunteering with The Magic of Christmas.
The Magic of Christmas is an organization that has been running for years. They are there for families who are going through a rough patch. Parents who are unable to make Christmas special for their children. The families are nominated each year by a friend or family member. Calgary Transit donates all the busses, bus drivers donate their time, and the toys are donated throughout the year. In the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, volunteers sort through the toys by age and sex. All the way from baby to adult and each box carries toys suitable for that age range. On Christmas Eve, each bus is loaded up and the boxes take up all the seating…one side for boys and one side for girls with adults at the back.
All the Christmas Eve volunteers must attend the Elf Rally and go for a costume fitting. Did I mention we all dress like elves? The CEO (Chief Elf Officer) and Bus Santa attend extra sessions as their jobs are a little bit more involved. Hubby was our Bus Santa the first year but found it was too much pressure. He’s happy to stay an elf for now.
This year I applied and got accepted to be the CEO! There’s a special training session for CEO’s but mostly we’re in charge of decorating the bus, making sure Santa is presentable and hydrated, planning our delivery route, and calling out the requirements for the houses we visit. I’ll have a master list of all the recipients which tells me how many people to expect at each home, whether or not they need a food or turkey hamper, and suggested gifts for each person in the family. It takes a little bit of skill (and a lot of Christmas magic) to be able to load Santa’s pack on a moving city bus!
Our Reward is a Hot Tourtière
Our family always volunteers for the later shift that begins around 3:30. The shift is late and we are always pretty tired afterward. The last thing I want to do is make dinner. The great thing is that with a little planning ahead, dinner is already made! I make and freeze our Tourtière ahead of time, then put it in the oven and set the timer before we leave. I always have to approximate when we’ll be home because it really depends on when we’re finished our delivery list. With a side salad and some prepared veggies, we’re always thankful to come home to a cooked dinner at the end of a long day of giving.
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Christmas Traditions with Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen
Christmas Eve Tourtière
Christmas Eve Tourtière
- 450 grams lean minced pork
- 15 crimini mushrooms
- 1 medium onion; small dice
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp dried powdered sage
- 3/4 tsp ground cloves
- 4 medium potatoes
- double pastry for a pie
MethodPeel the potatoes, cut into cubes, and boil until they are soft enough to drain and mash. Set aside mashed potatoes. Add all the mushrooms to the bowl of a food processor and process until they are quite fine, though not as far as to make a paste. Sweat the mushrooms in a med-hot pan with a bit of vegetable oil (if necessary). Remove and cool. Add small diced onions and some vegetable oil to the pan and sautée onions until softened. Add minced pork to the pan and brown; breaking it up as it cooks. Add dried herbs and season the meat mixture with salt and pepper. Mix mushrooms and potatoes into the meat. Cool until filling is room temperature. Roll out pastry and place in a deep dish pie plate OR springform pan. Add meat mixture to pie and top with pastry. Don’t forget to make pretty designs! Bake 400 F for 20 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 F for another 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is nice and golden. You can freeze it for anther day or eat it right away!