Vita Greco’s Christmas Eve Open House.
The silent snow falls softly, blanketing the earth in white. Sounds are muted and the excitement of Christmas lingers in the air.
The happy singing of carolers echoes from afar, as the guests chatter, their laughter tinkling through the air like sleigh bells. The freshly fallen snow crunches under their footsteps as they hurry on to Vita’s Christmas Eve Open House and the welcoming warmth of a crackling fire.
Vita’s Christmas Eve is a tradition passed down from her mother and Vita has been opening her home for over thirty years.
The table is laden full with the most delicious foods imaginable, all prepared by Vita herself. A lot of planning goes into Vita’s Christmas Eve celebration.
All the preparations for the food are done toward the end of summer. Vita makes a list of what she wants to serve and begins planning on when to buy everything. She stocks up on paper doilies , aluminum foil, paper products, drinks and she knows ahead of time of of how much approximately the evening will cost. There is no room for unpleasant surprises and “oh my God, it’s costing a fortune.” Vita has it all under control through careful planning.
Most of the menu is from her maternal Sicilian background, although there might be some influences from both sides of the family, and by now, Vita includes her own influences as well, such as the Cross Cakes (Pasticcioti).
If you follow Vita’s method, having a Holiday Open House is not as complicated as it might sound. Some foods can be prepared ahead of time and frozen, some can be partially prepared a few days before and then finished on Christmas Eve and some have to be prepared fresh on Christmas Eve day. It’s all in her cook book.
On the morning of the 24th, Vita begins the day around 8 a.m. For that day, there is a restraining order in effect. All are banned from the kitchen and it’s every person for himself to eat and drink that day, until the evening feast. That restraining order doesn’t prevent though the brave at heart, to sneak into the kitchen for a small taste of this or that. Vita graciously chooses not to notice. By 3 p.m., she’s all done and rests for about an hour before getting ready for the evening. While Vita is resting, the family is outside with the neighbors lighting the Luminaria. The neighborhood becomes a magical winter wonderland.
The detailed step-by-step instructions of how to plan and all of Vita’s delicious recipes are available in her cookbook. You can buy Next Door to the Chicken Market from “Kindle”, Barnes and Noble “The Nook,” Kobo.com (Canada) and our own Bookstore.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Buon Appetito.