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Winter Holiday Fireside Moments Interview with Jo Dereske

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It’s that time of year when the chill in the frosty air brings us indoors to hunker down with thick comforters and mugs of steaming hot chocolate overflowing with fluffy marshmallows.  When holiday music and movies become the soundtrack to our everyday home lives. When we gather ‘round the fire for company, drink, food and love.  When we are celebrating and remembering those we treasure and hold near and dear.  When the real meaning of the season is family – by our DNA or by our heart.  When we reflect and give thanks for all we have. In a nutshell, unconditional love.

I’d like to welcome Jo Dereske to share the beauty of the season with us.

Favorite Holiday tradition?

I become all mushy putting together Christmas stockings.

Favorite childhood toy?

A wind-up walking elephant, which when its fur was torn, proved to be formed from Budweiser beer cans.

Favorite childhood game?

Red Rover (does anybody remember THAT?)

Snowball fight or making snow families?

Snowball, with snow forts, prisoners, and no-man’s land and take your deads.

Sleigh rides, sledding or skiing?

Sledding, the faster the better.

Favorite Holiday song?

“Santa Baby”

Favorite holiday movie?

I’m sentimental: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Favorite holiday story to read?

David Sedaris: “Six to Eight Black Men.”

Snow on holiday eve or just a chill in the air?

Snow, absolutely!

Most memorable holiday memory?

It’s not a happy one: next question.

Did you eat popcorn balls as a kid? If you did, do you still?

Yes and yes, and I make the gooey messy things, too

Real tree or artificial? Green or white?

Real, cut from the forest – usually “uniquely” shaped.

What do you holiday eve?

Panic, trying to wrap presents – and remember where I hid them.

What are your holiday plans this year?

Potentially explosive! Mixing together a lot of relatives I haven’t seen in years. 

What’s the one holiday dish your family can’t go without?

Kugelis – a Lithuanian potato dish, see below.

Please share a Holiday recipe.


 5 lbs. white potatoes, peeled (Idaho or “old” potatoes work best)

Large can of evaporated milk (not sweetened!)

½  to 1 lb bacon, chopped, with grease

½ large onion cooked with bacon

2 tsp salt, or to taste

4 eggs

Grate potatoes (There is a traditional wire grater, a friend uses a sausage grinder. Metal graters have too large a grate), fry bacon and onion. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a large greased oblong pan. Bake at 400o 10 minutes, then lower oven to 350o and bake for two hours or until golden brown.  Eat in slices, hot, with sour cream.

Best (in my opinion) cooled a day, then sliced and fried in more bacon grease and served with sour cream, or even MORE fried bacon and onions.  ~ Pass the cholesterol meds,

Holiday party tip?

Alcohol works

Favorite holiday decoration?

Anything made by my children, natch

Please share some magical holiday memories?

Emerging from midnight Mass and it was finally snowing huge bird-wing flakes

Lighting a Christmas tree with real candles

Wrap, gift bag or bow & go?

Wrap, but I make such a botch of it that people have gently suggested I try gift bags.

Gifts or gift cards?

The older I get the more the gift cards look like sanity

Do you eat fruitcake?

Absolutely. I adore it.

Do you head to the movies on the 25th?

Often, it keeps me from eating leftovers.

 What’s in your stocking?  *wink*

Something pink.

What do you want in your stocking? *saucy wink aka swink*


Do you head out on the 26th into the madness to exchange or shop for anything?

Not on your life.

Thank you so much.

Happy Holidays from my house to yours!

Visit Jo’s website for the latest news.

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About Diane Morasco