My Favorite Family Tradition: Dad's Christmas MuesliAllison Czarnecki
Christmas is the only time of year I really take the time to completely relax for two whole weeks to just enjoy and spend time with my family and friends. I pull back from work — and with the kids home from school — we chill out and get reacquainted with one another. We play games, go swimming, watch movies, put together 2,000 piece puzzles, read books, and eat our weight in chocolate. There’s really nothing like it, and taking all that time off really re-energizes and renews all of us.
One of the best things about Christmas, of course, is participating in old family traditions and making new ones. For our family, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without breakfast muesli, a special family recipe made every year by my father. In fact, I don’t have a single Christmas memory without muesli in it. My father doesn’t cook much more than oatmeal and scrambled eggs, but on Christmas morning the kitchen becomes his lair to make his delicious muesli for the family.
He picked up the recipe as a young twenty-something living in Germany (for 3 years) shortly after WWII where muesli was a tasty staple, if you could get the ingredients. Afterwards he came home and married my mom, and together they quickly started what was to be a large family — I’m one of 8 kids. He incorporated making fresh muesli in the kitchen by himself into an annual Christmas morning tradition. While we dashed around madly to find and unload our stockings as very young children, my father would be in the kitchen in his bathrobe, peeling and slicing apples, oranges, and bananas. Now as the mother of two children, the only thing my children want to know about going to Grammy and Papa’s house on Christmas morning is if Papa is making muesli for sure, for sure, please, please, pretty please.
Click through for the super secret family recipe for Christmas muesli.
Step 1 – Slice The Apples 1 of 11
Here's the muesli recipe in its entirety.
The first step to making muesli is to find a huge, huge bowl. Unless you're making muesli for two, in which case use a smaller bowl. This silver bowl has been used for muesli for 40 years, and it's ginormous.
Slice up a bunch of apples. We use about a dozen, but remember, ours feeds about 25+ people.
Step 2 – Add Oats + Oranges 2 of 11
Peel, slice and add about a dozen oranges to the muesli mix. Add several cups of non-quick-oats. You want the old-fashioned kind.
Step 3 – Add Dried Fruit 3 of 11
We're raisin people in my family, so raisins and dried cranberries are a mainstay. Muesli is a mix of whatever you have, whatever you like though, so make it your own!
Step 4 – Keep Going 4 of 11
Over the years the muesli has become a whole-family affair. All of us older kids are taking it over slowly as my dad is getting more frail. Many hands make the best muesli. That should be a bumper sticker.
Step 5 – Get NUTS! 5 of 11
Nuts are a pretty important part of muesli. If you're allergic to nuts, you'll want to skip this part. If not, start with pecans. We use an entire bag.
Step – 6 More Nuts! 6 of 11
After that, add walnuts.
Step 7 – Add the Bananas 7 of 11
Once you've layered the more solid fruit, ie. apples and oranges, and all the nuts you want are on top, add a bunch of sliced bananas. We use 10 t0 12.
Step 8 – Yogurt is for Winners 8 of 11
This is the least pleasing photo of the bunch, because a container of yogurt is just a blob. But that's the best part of the muesli. The glue! Add an entire container of plain yogurt. Not flavored, just plain. If it isn't creamy enough for you, add another.
Step 9 – Mix it All the Way Up 9 of 11
This part might not be for the squeamish among you: using your hands (super, super clean ones, obviously) mix up all the ingredients. These are my dad's hands, and just looking at this picture of him mixing makes me happy.
Step 10 – Sir-Mix-A-Lot 10 of 11
Keep on mixing! Pull up from the bottom of the bowl and fold the ingredients towards you. Now repeat until you feel happy.
Voila! Muesli! 11 of 11
This is the finished product of my father's famous (among dozens) traditional Christmas morning muesli. At this point everyone grabs a spoon and starts taste-testing. My mother adds honey or sugar (you can choose neither) and cinnamon. Repeat steps 9 and 10 to mix in the sugar + cinnamon and enjoy! Eat cold and refrigerate for up to 2 days. After that the oranges start to sour.
I hope you have a lovely, reinvigorating, re-energizing Christmas!