The holiday season is all about food, family, and celebrating the birth of Christ. With Christmas just around the corner, we sat down to share some of our favorite holiday treats with each other while we combed back through the second season and remembered bits of our favorite conversations. Join us for some reminiscing—both of the memories associated with the dishes we brought in and the themes that stood out over the past few months.
Mentioned Food Items
Most of the food shared on this episode came as a result of recipes that have been modified with each host’s iteration of the dish. If you’d like to try any of the dishes mentioned in the show, below are links to similar recipes.
- Tart cranberry sauce with bourbon
- Latkes with sour cream and applesauce
- White chocolate trash
- Cornflake candy
Do you have a favorite food or holiday memory that you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share your memories or feedback on this episode.
Michael Sapiro: I’m glad we finally got to be a little more provocative in a way. Just because we showcase a provocative thought doesn’t mean obviously that we endorse it. It’s this whole idea of higher education letting people critically think and letting people engage with all sorts of thoughts.
Michael: Dan’s looking at me like, ‘You poor, naive…’
Angelina: Welcome back to the Living Uncommon podcast. We have a ton of food in front of us today, and we’re doing a special little holiday episode. Everyone brought in a dish of some significance. We’re gonna eat and talk about it, and you get to listen to us chew.
Michael: Beyond that, more than just talking about our dishes, we’ll be talking about this past season that we had. Why don’t we talk a little bit about…. Let’s not do the whole, “Oh, what’s going on in your life?” kind of thing. I don’t care. We’ve got a bunch of food in front of us, and I think that’s more interesting. Dan is a little odd, and he brought something that usually isn’t a main dish, it’s a little bit more of a condiment. That’s been the debate for the whole day. People have been coming in and out of our office talking about this.
Dan: I brought in cranberry sauce, which I consider to be not a main, but definitely something that you would eat a lot to accompany your meal, like a fruit salad. I bought cranberries. We live in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin is the number one cranberry producer in America.
Michael: He’s been waiting all day to use that fact.
Dan: We have a lot of cranberry farms in the northern, middle to northern, Wisconsin area. You probably have heard about cranberry bogs, right? What they do, is they actually flood the farm. Everything’s above ground. The cranberries are grown on bushes, and when it comes time to harvest it, they flood it. They flood it about, I don’t know, 16 inches maybe. Then, because they’re kind of like…. raw cranberries are almost woody in its consistency. So, they float to the top. The bush and all the leaves stay connected to the ground. Then, people come by with these rakes, if you do it manually, or a robotic harvester, and then they just pull all the berries right off the top while it’s flooded. So, if you go at harvest season, you’ll see all these bogs with people, or robots, standing in the middle of them harvesting cranberries. These are Wisconsin cranberries, and it’s a very basic recipe. For sweetener, I like to use raw honey. This is just raw, organic honey. Unfortunately, the honey’s not local, but it’s alright. Forgive the mistake. I forgot to look at the location when I bought the honey.
Michael: What else is in it?
Dan: Some love. I added just a little bit of vanilla. Then, the secret ingredient is bourbon. There’s two thirds of a cup of bourbon in there as well. I actually put a little bit of fresh-squeezed orange juice in there too. You add it all together, and you just boil it on the stove. You boil it for 15 minutes maybe, and that’s it. If you used cheap ingredients like brown sugar, or white sugar, or whatever, I mean, you’re right, Michael. You could do it for a lot cheaper. This is two pounds of cranberries. We’re gonna be eating this until we’re sick.
Michael: Well, we’ll partake.
Dan: I brought in a fancy bowl to serve, but nobody can see that. There will be photos.
Michael: It’s good, it’s tart. I can’t taste the Bourbon. Maybe I’ll do a little bit now.
Dan: I tasted it as an aftertaste.
Michael: I get it now. The first thing on the palate you get is the texture a little bit, and then it’s very cranberry ish. Then, evolves into a little bit of honey, a little vanilla, and it finishes with the Bourbon. It’s very nice.
Angelina: It’s bourbon forward for me. I also haven’t had a drink in a really long time.
Michael: When was the last time you had a drink?
Angelina: Almost seven weeks ago.
Dan: I just had some bourbon in my coffee yesterday. I mean, not at work, but back at home.
Angelina: That’s really good.
Dan: I think it turned out pretty good. I think I would use a different honey next time. Honey has different flavors depending on where it comes from. I don’t know if I love this one.
Michael: Dan, what were your thoughts about this season?
Dan: One common theme, and maybe it’s more of just a common word that I noticed, they all mentioned, to some degree or another, isolation as being a major societal issue. It’s funny because our topics ranged across a lot of things. Even in the last episode about theater, Ben brought it up. Theater is something that brings us together as a community and forces us not to be isolated consumers, but to be consumers in a group to experience something together. Obviously, in our guns podcast, they talked a lot about isolation being something that may lead to violence, volence against yourself, violence against others, mental health, you know. It came up again, and again, and again. I think that we’re really on to something, as far as like diagnosing… My question is, what do we do about it? We’re just a podcast, but, any thoughts? What do we do? I think all of our guests offered community as a solution, or at least a way to get around it.
Michael: I think, you know, there’s a couple thoughts about that. What do we do about it? I mean, we work for an organization that fosters community, not only the way we do education even. If it’s online, it’s still part of a community. Certainly, in our campuses. Then, also, we’re in a service to the LCMS church and the church universal. When I think about community and what do we do about this, well, I think that sort of community, getting involved in the church community, in the spiritual community, at the Christ centered community, is really important.
Dan: It’s interesting when you think about the university atmosphere. For me, when I went to college…Actually, I’ve been talking to my daughter about this because she’s a senior in high school. I’ve been trying to play up the aspect of ‘you get real close to people real fast in college.’ I was like, “You know, within three weeks, I had a friend group.” People that I never in a million years would have met or known. Because you’re there every day from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. with the same people in this environment, you know, the university is a great place for especially undergraduate students to form a unique community that they may not have even had in high school. I think that that’s something that on-campus education can do maybe better than anything else right now. It gives us that opportunity to just literally be together, to be in proximity to one another. Kids skip a lot these days. My daughter and her friends, they don’t go out a lot. When I was a kid, we always went out. That was a thing.
Michael: They don’t go out?
Dan: They stay at home. They’re constantly in contact with each other via texting or an app, so they feel like they’re already together. Why go out and do anything? People don’t get a driver’s license, people don’t go out, so I know it’s a trend in the younger generation. College forces you to do it. I’m actually taking some online courses here at Concordia, and even in an online course, they make a really strong effort to try to make you feel like you’re a part of the community. Whether it’s through emails, or phone calls, or even opportunities to meet up at some of our extended campus regional centers, you can meet up with other online students. You’re in contact for coursework and things like that.
Michael: Isolation and community is the big kind of takeaway, just kind the thread that you saw.
Dan: Every time, I was almost waiting for someone to say it.
Michael: That’s important to you personally. You talk a lot about that.
Dan: Maybe that’s why I picked it up.
Michael: Why is it important to you personally?
Dan: I think, because I have a high ecclesiology. I have a strong view of the church as an alternative society, or an alternative politic to the world. Seeing the way that people can be in community with one another has really taken a huge prominence in the way that I experience faith. As a young man, or as a kid even, it was a lot more centered around doctrine, and Bible memorization, and things like that. That’s still super important, obviously, the aspect of living life together with people. That is an important piece of it.
Michael: I brought latkes because I’m a half Jewish. My family celebrates Hanukkah, and the other half celebrates Christmas. We celebrate both. Our Christmas tree has a Jewish star on top of it. We celebrate Chrismukkah and all that stuff. For me, one of the things that I did right away when we bought our first house was make it our family tradition. Speaking of my wife and my kids, I’m just having latkes for Hanukkah, and I’ll also eat them for Christmas too, depending on when things fall. First of all, I’m gluten-free and dairy-free typically. I tried to make something, even though we have a big sour cream with dairy…These are made with sweet potato, russet potato, onion, and the flour that binds it together is chickpea flour. Then, you eat it with some apple sauce and eat it was some sour cream. That’s the way to do it. You could pick one or the other if you want. I like to do both. You could put a little bit of that cranberry sauce on it if you want.
Angelina: What’s your first memory of having latkes?
Michael: My first memory of having latkes? I don’t know if it’s my first memory. I know my favorite memory. When I was living in Iowa, we lived right next to Chabad kind of synagogue. It was a Jewish deli. It was probably the only Jewish deli at Iowa that I know of. It was run by a rabbi who was a Lubavitch Chabad hasidic Jew. They’re very Orthodox. I mean, they’re very mystical in a lot of ways. They have a viewpoint of the Rebbe, which is like a more than a Rabbi, kind of like a spiritual leader of their group. They have high reverence for… It was fascinating. The guy who owned it was the most interesting person I think I’ve ever met in my life. He walked in, and he would start talking instantly with you about your life. It got very deep, like within two minutes a deep conversation. He was hilarious. They would do a thing where they would do a giant menorah, and they would light it and have a community lighting every night of Hanukkah in the wintertime. Every Jew in Iowa, which is probably like 13 people, would assemble, and he would hand out latkes. Everyone got a fresh fried latke from his deli. It was just a nice community thing. Again, we’re Christian. We believe in Jesus. We go to church and all that stuff, but Judaism is important to my family culturally. My family, meaning my wife, and myself, and our kids. That was a neat experience to me.
Dan: I’m excited to try!
Michael: Let’s dig in, folks.
Dan: Just stab one? What would you eat this accompanying with traditionally?
Michael: Maybe a brisket. When I think about this past season, a few things stand out to me. There’s one specific one, and there’s a couple that are general. Unfortunately, I wish we could have recorded all the discussion that centered around both the gun episode and capitalism internally. For instance, the discussion that Dan and I had all the way back from Ann Arbor for like seven hours about the gun episode, and the discussion we had before it, and the discussion we had immediately after, and the discussion we had with Angelina on campus before and after probably would have filled up 30 hours of audio. It definitely touched a nerve among all of us, and I hope it did with you too. I hope it did with all the listeners as well because that’s kind of what this podcast should be. I’m glad we finally got to be a little more provocative in a way. Just because we showcase a provocative thought doesn’t mean obviously that we endorse it. It’s this whole idea of higher education letting people critically think and letting people engage with all sorts of thoughts. The second thing is more specific. It’s the story about Paul. We’re talking about photography and humanizing issues. It was really an immigration topic, I think. It was humanizing issues. Immigration was a huge thrust behind what his work is and what our conversation is centered around. His story about his kid, and his wife, and they’re in the grocery store, and the guy harasses them and tells them to go back to their own country, and it’s just a little kid and a mom, and how vulnerable they are, and that you would view that in that light. Dan, I know you or saw this horrible thing and commented on this on social media, the acid attack that happened in Milwaukee were that person who wasn’t even an immigrant…
Dan: He was an immigrant, but he was an American citizen.
Michael: An American citizen had acid thrown on him just because he looked like someone that person didn’t like. They had facial features and heritage that someone didn’t like. For me, these stories, if we’re Christians, regardless of what political spectrum you fall on, you can’t hate people. If you think immigration is an issue, and there’s arguments on either side that can be respected, but what can’t be respected is hating people. You can’t call yourself a Christian if you hate people.
Dan: One thing I do want to add is that it’s important for us as Christians to be…it’s ok, and it’s also important for us to be political, but what we can’t be is partisan. I think that that’s a really difficult line. I think it’s something that we need to be ever vigilant about. You’re talking about immigration. Certainly, it’s a political topic. There are political decisions that need to be made at every level. Do we need to marry ourselves to a party in order to tell us what to believe versus viewing it through our faith and seeing the most christ-like response to this? How do the politics flow from that?
Michael: You’re absolutely right. This is my opinion. None of this is spoken on behalf of the LCMS or Concordia itself. Christianity, your identity is no longer found in anything in the world. Your identity is found in Christ. You’ve left this whole narrative system of what the world tells you, that you are the way things should be, and now, you’re in the world, but you’re not of it.
Angelina: It was interesting in the episode with Van and Joe that they both several times said something to the effect of, “Well, as a Christian…. And, “Because I’m a Christian,” and it would sometimes be on points that they were disagreeing with. Even if you’re choosing to let your faith inform your politics, it can still look very different.
Dan: Well, it was interesting. As we look for topics to cover during the podcast, we’re always trying to find Christians who have a variety of viewpoints. We always want to be able to represent the group that we’re representing here, through Concordia, whether that’s professors here, or someone from the LCMS. Sometimes, it’s hard to find people who hold opposite perspectives. I mean, we looked for a long time to find a pacifist perspective, and we did not manage to find anyone. Maybe some of our viewers know of some in the LCMS that hold that as an ethic, but we had a hard time finding. When we talk about capitalism versus socialism, we got a guy, he’s close, but there’s actually a very robust Christian left who are very invested in the economic ideas behind socialism. The Catholic Worker movement has a deep history of that. There are other Christian groups that have that perspective. It is interesting that we can hold these things up and they can become an idol. Again, that’s just another thing we got to watch out for.
Angelina: I brought two Christmas treats in that my family made every year growing up. They will kill you. There’s corn syrup, there’s sugar, there’s fake white chocolate.
Michael: What’s fake white chocolate?
Angelina: Just don’t think about it. You just can’t think about it.
Dan: You just shove it in your mouth.
Angelina: We’ve got some white trash, which is just a bunch of random stuff mixed together and covered in white chocolate.
Michael: It’s what you call white trash. What do I see here? I see some M&Ms, pretzels, some Chex. Is that Rice Chex?
Michael: Is there peanuts in there? Is that butterscotch chips?
Dan: Are they in clumps?
Angelina: So, you mix it together, and then you lay down a parchment paper to dry. You break it up. It can be big clumps. It can be small clumps.
Dan: I mean, the variety is never-ending, the clump variety.
Angelina: I grew up on a sugar diet. We had our shelves stocked with every kind of unhealthy cereal that you could think of, at least four kinds of soda in the fridge.
Michael: Did you drink soda constantly?
Angelina: Oh my gosh, yes.
Dan: You don’t peg you as that type.
Angelina: I’m not anymore.
Dan: Does everyone in your family have diabetes?
Angelina: No, surprisingly.
Michael: What would you eat for breakfast?
Angelina: Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs.
Michael: Did you have soda with it too?
Angelina: Yes. No! I mean, it was supposed to be like one soda a day, but I didn’t do this as much because I was a rule follower when I was younger. My brother and my sister would go down, and they would put puncture holes in the cans, and drink through the cans, and then put the can back in the fridge, so it looked like the same amount of cans are still there, but they were getting an extra soda hit during the day. Don’t get me started on the potato chips.
Michael: Tell us about the potato chips.
Angelina: How many kinds of Doritos can you have in one household?
Michael: What was a typical dinner dinner?
Angelina: Dinner was always homemade. On one side, there was a lot of unhealthy food in my house growing up, but then we had a huge garden, and we preserved a ton of food every year, both canned and frozen. Then, we would butcher our own meat, and that would supply us for the year. We did that every year.
Dan: Let’s try some of this white trash. This is literally just a clump. I could not even tell what I was grabbing.
Michael: Crunchy. It’s good.
Angelina: It lingers on the tongue. It coats the tongue very well.
Dan: It’s amazing. It tastes like sugar clumps. I’m loving it, as they say.
Michael: That’s very good. It tastes like frosted cheerios.
Dan: But, with like 10 times the frosting.
Michael: It’s like super thick frosted Cheerios.
Dan: I’m wide awake now for the first time in my life.
Michael: I mean, i’m on a no sugar kick for a long time too. So, anytime I eat candy or anything, it’s like “Woah.” What are these next ones?
Angelina: The next thing is a corn flake candy. This is where the corn syrup is, so, tread lightly.
Michael: It’s like corn flakes with peanut butter, and corn syrup, and sugar.
Dan: It’s like a protein blast.
Angelina: It’s good for you.
Michael: These are heavy.
Angelina: Michael’s face is getting red. It’s a lot of sugar. It’s you biting into pure sugar. It tastes good. It’d be good with coffee. It’d be good with an espresso. That’s good. My teeth hurt. That’s good though. Well done. Well done, Angelina.
Angelina: That’s a little taste of Angelina childhood right there.
Michael: Are these for your family? The rest of them?
Angelina: Yeah. I’ll probably take them to Thanksgiving.
Dan: Does everyone make these or just you?
Angelina: We used to do a big… it’s not cooking or baking really, but like a good, a big treat making day. We can make a ton of Buckeyes. You mix peanut butter, and powdered sugar, and some other stuff together, and it gets to a point where you can form it and see forming the balls. You dip it in chocolate.
Michael: Oh, those things. Yeah.
Angelina: We do those. We cover just anything that we could in chocolate.
Angelina: Those we fry. That’s another thing that my immediate family does every year is… don’t judge me. We have a big fry day. We just get everything, whatever you want, you bring, and we put it in a deep fryer.
Michael: Wow. What do you bring?
Angelina: There’s fish, there’s pickles, cheese, mushrooms.
Michael: What’s the weirdest thing?
Angelina: One year, we got wonton wrappers, and then we took pickle spears and wrapped it in cheese, and then wrapped those in the wrappers, and deep fry those. It’s pretty good. Afterwards, you just feel like death. Then, we eat white trash and cornflake candy.
Michael: Is that your Christmas meal?
Angelina: Well, it’s my immediate family sometimes. For extended families, we would always, you know, whenever we’d get together, if it was lunch, or dinner, and then two hours later, everyone would bring out their snack. It’d be like two giant tables just full of stuff like this.
Michael: Angelina, what were you thoughts about this season?
Angelina: I think, overall, like you guys both already said, I think this season was more interesting. Not that the first season wasn’t interesting, but I think we didn’t always set our guests up well in the first season. It was fun this season to have topics that resonated with us. We had guests that were really passionate about it. Something that stood out to me through several episodes was just the importance of listening. Obviously, that’s not really being done very well in multiple areas. It’s hard, and that’s something that’s hard for me too. When I’m really passionate about something, I don’t always listen to hear, or hear to listen. I hear to respond. I think that’s a good reminder, especially around the holidays as you go and spend time with family. The world’s gonna be okay without your opinion on everything.
Dan: Do we have a responsibility to respond?
Angelina: That’s what I struggle with sometimes. If something really outrageous is said, is that almost sinful to not speak up?
Michael: Are you gonna change anyone’s mind though that? Is it just gonna become an argument? If you speak up, it’s just doing what the person wants you to do, and that’s getting into a debate.
Angelina: Sometimes, I’m like, “Well, what’s the intent of the person? Is it to provoke me? If so, then, I shouldn’t respond.” Sometimes, because I’m naturally pessimistic, I assume the worst out of people. I think that doesn’t always put me in a good place either.
Michael: What about just digging in deeper with more questions? Just keep asking, and asking.
Angelina: I don’t have the patience for that.
Dan: Here’s 5 more questions for you about your racist comment.
Angelina: I have thought about the episode with Paul a lot because I would so admire and respect his posture towards people and how curious he is. Like you were saying of how we build up these images of people, or perceptions of people in our mind as we’re thinking, What if they say this? Then, I’m gonna say this. Then, when you actually have a conversation with someone, it’s like, Oh they’re not as bad as I thought they were.
Michael: For social media, send us all the images of your holiday meals. Tag it, #lupodmeals.
Dan: There comes a complex hashtag.
Michael: We want to see what you have to eat. We want to know what you’re eating. We want to know, how did it go? Did you get in a fight with with Uncle Frank? Was Uncle Frank on the soapbox again? Or, did you hold your tongue? Did you get curious about people? Send that to us. We know you won’t.
Dan: Go ahead and share this podcast with at least one family member this holiday season.
Michael: Your gift to us would be sharing this with one person. Well, do share this, do send us your stories, send us your food, and the winner will get something very special.
Dan: I like that.
Angelina: Which is?
Michael: We’ll have a living uncommon hat made.
Dan: Like a trucker style hat?
Michael: Sure. Whatever.
Angelina: Merry Christmas.
Michael: Bless us all.
Dan: Winter wishes, as NPR likes to say.
Michael: Anyway, it’s been a delight this season. We’ll see you for season three, unless we don’t do it.
This podcast is brought to you by Concordia University Wisconsin and Concordia University Ann Arbor. However, the opinions and views are not meant to be official statements on their behalf.