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Dorothy Brecht of Blairstown remembers spending Christmas Day with her grandmother and the German fugens (fritters) she served. They were fried in a seven-hole fugen pan.

"We ate them with sugar or a cinnamon-sugar mix, which I prefer," Brecht says. "... I am in my 80s, and my family looks forward to this special treat. My daughters have also followed this tradition."

2 cups milk, scalded
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package yeast, dissolved in a little warm water
4 eggs, beaten
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (see cook's note)

Add butter, sugar and salt to milk. Cool slightly. Add yeast and beaten eggs, and beat. Add flour and beat well, and then add some raisins and the cardamom.

Let rise until doubled; stir down and let rise again.

Stir down and fry in pan. If using a fritter pan, you need to put a little oil in each cup. When fritters are brown on bottom (probably 3 to 4 minutes), turn and fry the other half until brown.

These are best if served immediately. They also can be made ahead and kept warm in a low oven. When eating, dip fugens in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Cook's note: Cinnamon or nutmeg can be used instead of cardamom.

Another reader of German heritage says Christmas dinner wouldn't be the same without raisin cream pie, cranberry relish in a raspberry Jell-O salad and fried yams.

"One of my aunts has made the yam dish for our extended family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas for over 60 years," writes Dee Horwedel of Marion.

To prepare the fried yams, boil yams until tender. Slice into 1/2-inch slices. Dip in flour and fry in butter.

Another holiday food tradition in Horwedel's family is a pancakelike main dish, Speck 'n Dicken, that another aunt makes on New Year's Eve. To prepare the dish, a batter of eggs, white sugar, rye graham flour, anise, baking soda, salt and water is poured over cooked and crumbled bacon in an electric frying pan and cooked like a pancake.

Ulla Wall, a native of Denmark, thinks of cod this time of the year. A resident of Cedar Rapids, Wall says the following recipe for Danish New Year's Eve Cod and Mustard Gravy is served with boiled potatoes.



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Last updated February 2, 2005