Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My! Didn't it snow!

I hope your holidays were wonderful and fulfilling! Ours certainly has been a white one! Nearly three feet of snow has fallen on our other-wise temperate community, and all socialization and business has been at a standstill since the 23rd of December. Despite the inconvenience, it was absolutely dleightful to view from our livingroom window! Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney would have loved it!

We received so much fluffy precipitation that I feared we would have to postpone Christmas. However, (God bless them!) my dinner guests drudged through the blizzard (via bus, if you can imagine it!)and made it to our little holiday oasis just in time to help with the final preparations for the feast. We hosted a lovely young family originally from Holland; Evart-Jan and Francike and their two small children, Anna (aged 5 and 1/2) and Job (aged 3). Also in rapt attendance was our dear friend Dorothy ( aged 29 and some months!), a kindred spirit of the first water! The visit was a whilrwind of excitement, as one would and SHOULD expect with children of that age. In fact it was that very whilrwind we dearly hoped for and will fondly remember! As a childless couple it was an experience that Eric and I had never been privy to, and my, wasn't it magical!

Job, was immediately drawn to the Polar Express train set that circled the bottom of our Christmas Tree. How could it be otherwise? Charlie, our llaso-shiitsu-husky dog was beside himself with delight. As I have told anyone who will listen, poor Charlie asks for a little boy every year for Christmas, and is always disappointed. This year, I am sure he thought that Santy Claus had granted his wish, because there was Job more than willing to be his boy at least for the day.

Anna fell madly in love with Charlie. With a little instruction from me, it wasn't long before she learned how to make him sit, lay down, give a paw and retrieve his stuffed toys. ( "Retrieve" is a bit of a euphemism. He will run after a toy, but we have not yet discovered how to make him bring it back) After an hour of play, poor Charlie was in need of a rest, as he is not as young as he used to be. (he turned 7 in November which is 49 in people years, so by now he is well over 50!)

After a spirited time of opening presents, and eating our turkey dinner (a veritable banquet with all the fixings including a dessert of several kinds of baked gooods, traditional English Trifle, and a delectable white chocolate cheesecake!) it seemed that in no time at all our Christmas day was at an end. Uncle Eric gingerly backed his car out of the driveway so that he could offer our holiday visiters a swift ride home in the comfort of a heated vehicle. The children were sleeping soundly by the time they were tucked into their cozy liitle beds. Auntie Dorothy was our houseguest for Boxing Day and the day after that.

Looking back on it now, I suspect that Christmas 2008 will be remembered as one of our most-memorable. The hot mulled cider served with beaiming looks and plenty of love, the jovial exchange of gifts, the amiable company, the children's eyes a-twinle with the magic of this most beautiful season; it was an enchanted foray into the heart of the Holidays.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mom's Sugar Cookie Recipe

Mom made these cookies every Christmas for as long as I can remember. To be honest, they weren't my favorite, because they were very hard. However, since they were the only sugar cookies I had ever eaten, I asked Mom for the recipe. The first year of my marraige, I made the cookies, but instead of using margarine, as Mom always did, I used butter. The difference it made in the recipe was phenomenal! In fact they were so good, I was grateful that I lived 4000 miles away from Mom. I didn't want her to taste my version, because she took such pride in her own recipe, and frankly, mine were SO much better, that I didn't want hers to be overshadowed. Every year I would make them I would say to her, "Well, Mom, I made the sugar cookies, but they just don't taste like yours." I never told her that I used butter, and she would quiz me as to what I might have done wrong. I'd tell her that there was no way that I would be able to bake them like she did. I think she took some pride in being the "Sugar Cookie Queen". Having said that, I have to admitt that my Mom's potatoe salad was absolutely THE BEST! I couldn't come close to reproducing or improving it. She just had the touch, and she certainly didn't pass that one on to me, or any of my sisters. Mom passed away 7 and 1/2 years ago. I really miss her, and would give anything to sink my teeth into her sugar cookies one more time., even if they were a little firm. These cookies are absolutely delicious, very moist and flavorful, and they are especially good after a week or two, once the flavor of the neutmeg really becomes pronounced. This makes about 5 dozen cookies, or about 2 1/2 dozen double cookies. I make double cookies which are a round cookie on the bottom, and a cookie of the same circumference but with a small hole in the centre, into which I put a dab of raspberry jam. To give you a word to the wise, these bake up quite large, and need to be watched so that they are baked sufficiently , but are not over-done. Anyway, here they are in all their glory, but take my advice and use butter!

Mom's Sugar Cookies

Cream together: 2 cups sugar
1 pound of butter
4 eggs (room temperature)

Combine and then add to the above mixture: 5 cups white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Roll into a large ball. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate until firm to make rolling easier. Roll out 1/4 inch and cut into designs. Bake 350 degrees F. six to seven minutes.

Of Blogging and Christmas Cakes

Greetings Dear Readers:

Today I have embarked on two monumental tasks. First of all, after certainly no malice, and hardly any aforethought, I have decided to enter the world of blogging. Along with my dear friend, Silken Purse, I am entering this "brave new world" to post my thoughts, my ideas, and my flights of fancy. Who knows the heights to which we will ascend? The world is just a-flutter with possibilities!
Secondly, with liquid Christmas cheer to my left and a sharp knife to my right, I am combining the various candied fruits and nuts for what I hope will become my annual Christmas cake bake. Ah yes, 'tis the season! With Christmas just over three weeks away, and barely enough time to properly age my culinary creations, I will pop the dark cake into a slow oven tomorrow morning, after the fruit has had time to marinate in fragrant Napoleon brandy. Today I will concentrate on the light fruit cakes which don't require the pre-soak, along with a recipe entitled "Wexford Raisin Cake" given to me by a most obliging voice student of my husband's. After tucking the cakes away to rest until the Yuletide, I will immerse myself in my annual tradition of cookie creating; Mom's Sugar Cookies, made with a hint of nutmeg, Whipped Butter Shortbread and finally, delicious Gingerbread which will this year. take the shape of snowflakes, as I was fortunate enough to procure a set of incredible snowflake cookie cutters! I would love to share with you my Mom's delicious sugar cookie recipe, and I will do so tomorrow or Monday, when I have a bit more time at my disposal. Hopefully I will also be able to post some photographs of my much-anticipated Christmas Cakes., and other delicacies. I do hope they turn out well! New recipes are always a bit risky. Do you have any recipes you would like to share; ones that have been tested and tried by you?
Apart from baking, I enjoy entertaining, attending Christmas-themed concerts like Handel's "Messiah", and directing and performing in dramatic readings of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". So, dear reader, what are some of your Christmas preparatory traditions? I would dearly and sincerely love to know. Whatever you do during this blessed time of year, I hope and pray that you and yours will find peace and joy in remembering Him who is the Reason for the Season.


Scone Queen