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On Tia Pepy's Rice Pudding, Reindeer Cookies, And Other WUSF Family Holiday Traditions

On Tia Pepy's Rice Pudding, Reindeer Cookies, And Other WUSF Family Traditions

Holiday traditions take shape in many forms, and this week on Florida Matters, we take a look at some of our WUSF staff's favorite family holiday traditions.  

Red-nosed reindeer cookies

We start by hearing from Dalia Colon, the producer of our Zest podcast. She takes us into her home as her family prepares, bakes and delivers their traditional reindeer cookies. 

reindeer cookies
Reindeer cookies are ready to go into the oven.
The Colon family makes their reindeer cookies
The Colon family makes their reindeer cookies.

Fishing With Dad

Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham shares her day fishing with her father. His smoked mullet is a favorite among their friends and family.

Robin Sussingham's father, Bob Trohn, catching mullet to smoke.

Remembering "Tia Pepy"

As soon as we started talking in the newsroom about traditions and holidays, the first thing our Morning Edition host, Jessica Meszaros, thought of was her Aunt "Tia Pepy's" rice pudding. 

Jessica says she thought of her aunt "immediately because ever since I was growing up, she would come around on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and she would have a Tupperware for us and she does that for everyone."

Jessica Meszaros and her Aunt "Tia Pepy".

Rice Pudding recipe:

3 cups water

1/2 gallon whole milk

2 cups Valencia rice

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 cinnamon sticks

1 whole lime peel

Wash the rice

Boil water, rice, cinnamon sticks and lime peel until water levels out rice

Add rest of ingredients - milk, salt, sugar, vanilla and set to medium temperature

Stir for ONE HOUR - secret is to use the cooking spoon to hold some of the rice against the wall of the pot so the rice gets sticky and allows it to get thick and creamy. My aunt recommends using thick rubber gloves, elbow high for splash safety.

Remove cinnamon sticks and lime peel before serving and enjoy!

A Pagan Celebration

WUSF multimedia reporter Daylina Miller celebrates a pagan yule log tradition. Daylina teaches us about the pagan tradition, which celebrates the winter solstice and why some have moved from buring the yule log to baking one.  


The ancient season of Yule is a time of both reflection and celebration, a time to connect in a relational way with one’s own inner wisdom and with the people that surround them.

Many different cultures from the Nordic Vikings to the Celtic Druids, Egyptians to the Hopi ritualized this sacred time to promote spiritual unity and attunement.

Yule is when we celebrate the turning of the wheel of the year. It is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the morning after the winter solstice at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb.

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.

-- Hamilton Wright Mabie

Borscht, Their Way 

Kerry Sheridan spent a day with her 96-year-old grandmother, Olga Smith, recreating a traditional favorite soup made by their Ukrainian ancestors. They traveled from the butcher shop to the kitchen and down memory lane, as they cooked up some homemade Borscht with a personal twist.

Kerry Sheridan and her Grandmother, Olga Smith,

Christy Oshana is the Producer for Florida Matters, WUSF Public Media’s public affairs show.
Robin is Senior Editor at WUSF, spearheading the station's podcasting initiatives and helping to guide the vision for special reporting projects and creative storytelling. She created The Zest, the station's podcast that's all about food, which she continues to host and serve as senior producer.
I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.
Since 2012, I’ve been a voice on public radio stations across Florida - in Miami, Fort Myers, and now Tampa.
I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
"I host a food podcast" is a great icebreaker at parties.