Archive for December, 2015

Merry Christmas … to everyone

elfonashelf151_thumb[1]_thumb[4]even the good-natured Lab and the elfontheshelf [h/t http://www.michellesmirror.com

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This is a fascinating article. I can recall some of these traditions from my childhood and more traditions from listening to my parents and other relatives reminisce. When they start with the reminiscing, they always say, ‘Well, back then…’   I remember letting off fireworks, guns or big flares [Fuzees] at our country home or my grandpa’s. And this quote about meat is right on, I never had steak until I was an adult, either.

Here’s a sample from the blog. There’s lots more but fair use prevents me from quoting more, especially since the author is a professional writer. Check out the website and see what you think. After Christmas, I plan to research the blog and the people there.

     Christmas dinner was different, too.  Few kept geese, and most were not that crazy about turkey, so Christmas dinner was always chicken or ham.  Everybody had chicken and pigs.  In fact, in Appalachia, pork was the staple meat.  People might have a milk cow, but very few raised cattle for meat.  Steak to Appalachians was cubed steak, floured and fried like chicken.  I was an adult before I ate what most people think of as steak.

http://www.cornettmedia.com/ninas-blog/old-christmas-as-observed-in-Kentucky. In this post, the author is quoting from a letter submitted to her.

The blog author, Nina Cornett, also has a nice history of Old Christmas.

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This Christmas Eve in My Church

December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

Prelude: Winchester Bells

     Ding Dong, Merrily on High [Arr Sondra Tucker]

     Carol of the Bells [Arr Douglas Wagner]

Three Carols for Flute and Harpsichord:

     What Child is This

     Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

     On Christmas Night all Christians Sing

Processional: O Come All Ye Faithful [Adeste Fideles]

Statement of Purpose/ Opening Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

Lighting the Advent Candle, Unison Prayer

Choir Anthem: To Bethlehem [David M Williams]

First Lesson: Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19

Carol: Come,  Thou Long Expected Jesus [Hyfrydol]

Second Lesson: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Choir Anthem:  Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day [L Pfautch]

Third Lesson: Isaiah 11:1-9

Carol: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming [Es Ist Ein’ Ros’]

Fourth Lesson: Micah 5:2-4

Carol: O Little Town of Bethlehem

Fifth Lesson: Luke 1:26-35, 38

Choir Anthem: All My Heart This Night Rejoices [William Stevens]

Sixth Lesson: Luke 2:1-7

Carol: Away in a Manger [Mueller]

Seventh Lesson: Luke 2:8-16

Choir Anthem: In Dulci Jubilo [Arr David Lee]

Carol: Hark the Herald Angels Sing [Mendelssohn]

Eighth Lesson: Matthew 2:1-11

Carol: As with Gladness, Men of Old [Dix]

Ninth Lesson: John 1:1-14

Choir Anthem: Before the Marvel of This Night [Carl Schalk]

Service of the Candle Lighting

Carol: Silent Night, Holy Night [Stille Nacht]

Charge and Blessing

Recessional: Go, Tell It on the Mountain [Go Tell It]

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And it’s a Monday, too

cat crawdad

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Ree Drummond is my go-to source for new recipes. I like her because she uses ordinary ingredients that are easy to find no matter where you live, they’re not costly ingredients, she likes a variety of food -sushi as well as steak/potatoes, and she uses those ordinary ingredients to turn out really good food. Her stuff is good, and she rarely lets me down. In fact, if a recipe isn’t especially good, it’s almost certainly because I messed up.

I needed a quick cookie/candy recipe and there are many, many good recipes out there. I’ve had excellent feedback with Christy Jordan’s No Bake Cafeteria Peanut Butter Bars [http://www.southernplate.com/2011/04/no-bake-cafeteria-peanut-butter-bars.html] and my daughter swears by PW’s  Sharon Thompson’s Tiger Butter, from Flavors of Kentucky. As usual, I’m always trying a new recipe so I tried PW’s Pretzel Turtles. Very easy, very tasty, quite attractive, it was a very good candy but I’ll probably continue searching for a new recipe next year.

My biggest caution is to be very, very careful when you cook the caramels with the pretzels before topping with each with a roasted pecan and then setting each candy piece atop melted chocolate. The pretzels, as well as the caramels become tooth-destroying crunchy very quickly. The recipe says bake 4-5 minutes but a few seconds less than Four minutes works best, at least in my oven. Of course, I don’t much like crunchy, chewy foods that challenge my teeth fillings.

pecan turtles


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I don’t watch Bertinelli’s show on the Food Network. No reason, I watch Pioneer Woman and Southern at Heart and that’s enough time spent watching food on television. Evidently Bertinelli cooked these cookies on a recent holiday show so I intend to watch the video sometime. I checked out her cookbook – the name of the cookbook is upstairs, please don’t ask me to go and get the name – and thought her picture for Neopolitan Holiday Cookies was just lovely.

It’s not a  difficult recipe but it takes a little time and you must use some care to assemble and cut the cookies, which are really tiny pieces of a 3-layer cake. The cake is tinted Christmas colors. Since it’s an almond paste-whipped egg whites cake, it’s not a fluffy, moist of creaminess. My best advice is to watch the cooking time very carefully because the layers will dry out and harden very easily, even a minute or so too long will affect the texture.

After the layers cool, you put preserves – apricot and seedless raspberry – between layers and let the flavors mingle overnight by weighing down the layers. The top layer is bare at this point. The next day, you frost the top layer with melted chocolate. The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, which I found not quite sweet enough for my American taste. Now the Italians, yes. I cheated and melted some milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate and spread that atop the dark chocolate layer. It helped a lot, too. You have to take some care to cut the layers into little pieces; I dampened the knives just a bit and instead of using the recommended serrated knife, I used a sharp little paring knife.

I took this to a choir party and it was a big hit. It’s beautiful, festive and very tasty. Worth your while. My layers are quite as even as Bertinelli but people don’t care, they really do appreciate that you went to some trouble and tried something different. That’s what I tell myself anyway. I did use “Southern Cooking” as an identifying category because well, it’s southern Italy, after all.



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I try to make a trifle every Christmas. The classic ladyfingers/custard/raspberry sauce is still excellent but I like to try new recipes and I don’t have a standard ‘don’t touch this’ family tradition. For several years my daughter or I has made Paula Deen’s Gingerbread Trifle, and it is a delicious trifle. Most trifles develop a full flavor only after setting at least overnight and that’s especially true of the Gingerbread Trifle.

For the church holiday dinner this year I made the Southern Living Cherry-Spice Cake Trifle in the November 2015 issue. How does it compare to other trifles?

It took longer for the cake since traditional trifle uses store-bought ladyfingers or a pound or sponge cake and Deen’s Gingerbread Trifle permits a store-bought mix. I was a little disappointed with the Spice Cake when I first tasted it because it’s a little blah but after I  put it into the trifle, I have to admit I wouldn’t change that. The subtle spices mixed very well with everything else. Occasionally I think a SL recipe isn’t really worth the trouble but that’s not true with the Spice Cake. If you’re going to make the cake just as a cake and not for a trifle, you’d have to use a jazzy icing to punch up the flavor. Maybe use a spice icing and layer it with spiced apples.

The filling uses cherry preserves and cranberries – I used fresh ones – and it was quite tasty but I added a little more preserves than the recipe called for because I didn’t think it was sweet enough, especially with the rather bland cake.

I love a good custard and the custard recipe for the trifle was wonderful, wonderful. You could top the trifle with a Cool Whip but I used the real whipped cream recipe in the mag. It was a lovely trifle and I added some rosemary sprigs as depicted in the mag pic.

Was it worth it? Yes. Will I make this again next year or continue my never-ending quest for the perfect trifle? Well, Sissy said it was really, really good but she didn’t gasp or say ‘Oh my goodness’ and everyone at the church potluck said it was delicious but ….. no one asked for the recipe. That’s the kiss of death for a recipe in my book. Not likely to make it next year.


Here’s the links to the Southern Living recipes. You use the cake as the base for the trifle. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/holiday-spice-cake

The  trifle recipe here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cherry-spice-cake-trifle

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