A New Season


After a long sabbatical, I plan to post new snippets with some holiday recipes from around the world. May your upcoming holiday preparations be interesting and fun. Stay happy and healthy until I write again.

Mushroom Holiday Appetizers


Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought I would share this recipe that we’ve used at holiday parties and at Christmas Eve and New Years Eve buffets.  These are nice either served cold or warm and can be kept hot in a chafing dish.  I prefer them cold.  Put them on a nice platter that is lined with a colored foil and some sprigs of herbs such as thyme or rosemary for a nice presentation.  They’re a little work, but well worth it.  Puff pastry in different brands can be found in the frozen section of your supermarket.  It usually comes four large rectangular sheets to the box.

INGREDIENTS:

2 packages frozen puff pastry
1 pound mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (white or Vidalia)
1/4 cup white wine
1 large egg, beaten together with 4 Tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
celery seeds (in jar in spice section of market)
1 garlic clove or two teaspoons jarred chopped garlic

Defrost the puff pastry according to package directions.  Saute the mushrooms and garlic in butter; add the parley and onion.  Season the softened mushroom mixture with salt, thyme and pepper.  Saute further until the liquid evaporates.  Add the wine and cook the mixture until it becomes dry.  Let cool.  On a floured rolling surface, roll out 1 pastry sheet to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut out 24 circles with 2 inch round cookie cutter (if you do not have one, use a glass with a 2 inch rim dipped in flour).  Place teaspoon of mushroom mixture on each piece of pastry dough leaving a 1/4 inch edge.  Using a second piece of pastry, roll out and cut 24 more circular 2″ pieces.  Use these for covering the first batch of filled rounds.  Press down the edges and use a table fork to seal the edges.  Put pastries on large ungreased baking sheets and brush with beaten egg, cream mixture. Cut a slit on top of each pastry to vent the steam.  Repeat the process using the second package of pastry.

Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 14 minutes or until mushroom appetizers are puffed up and golden.

When lightly browned, remove to wire baking rack to cool.  Serve warm or cold, but not do not refrigerate unless you are planning on serving them a few hours later.  You may also freeze these in between sheets of waxed paper after they have cooled and reheat in a conventional oven.  They do not microwave well.

I hope these are a big hit at your next holiday gathering.

Open House Antipasto Salad


antipasto

antipasto (Photo credit: freakgirl)

Whenever it is time for a holiday gathering, especially for those open house parties that are held at the end of the year, we like to serve up a variety of salads.  One of our favorites is this Italian style antipasto salads of which you can mix and match the vegetables and meats to suit your own tastes.  This one features traditional Italian cold cuts that can be obtained at your supermarket deli counter or in Italian food specialty shops.  Sometimes, I switch the ingredients around, using julienned turkey or reduced salt ham and cheeses for the saltier Italian cold cuts and replace the plain iceberg lettuce base with varied leafy greens to line the platter as a base.  It’s you choice whether to make the traditional Italian style salad or whether you would rather have the reduced-salt, lower calorie version.  As long as the vegetables are the marinated version, the taste should remain close to the original.  I often use leafy greens like iceberg,  romaine, red leaf and Bibb lettuce as well as the mixed greens like Mesclun, spinach and Italian blend that come in large bags at warehouse stores.

The amounts of ingredients in this salad can be increased so the measurements are not exacting.  Change the ingredient amounts to suit your taste.  We use less cold cuts and more vegetables to make a colorful display.  Serve up with a fancy spoon and fork set and a colorful platter. (We sometimes use a turkey platter).  The recipe is as follows:

INGREDIENTS:

Lettuce (of your choice)
Large jar marinated mushrooms
Black olives (Sicilian, Greek, black pitted, or green olives)
2 large jars artichoke hearts – drained and cut in half
2 jars roasted peppers, slice in strips
one jar anchovies, drained (amount used to your taste)
1 small onion – peeled and cut into rings
1 pound Genoa salami – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1 pound prosciutto – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1/2  pound capiccola – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1 pound Provolone cheese
(your may also use turkey, any cheese desired, ham, or other deli meat as desired)

Line a large platter with layers of lettuce or greens making salad as large as you like.  Place in order on top of greens – peppers, artichokes, olives, mushrooms, onion,  peppers, and anchovies.  Decoratively top with sliced cold cuts.

I use a homemade Italian dressing to top this, but some like just a bit of olive oil and vinegar with the addition of a bit of oregano.
You may use any dressing that suits you or serve with a variety of dressings presented with holiday spoons and bowls.

I hope your holiday parties are fun and festive.  Happy Holidays from my house to yours!!!

Mocha Coffee Punch


Punch Bowl

(Photo credit: Josh Self)

For a different punch while you, your family and friends put up the Christmas decorations, I’ve opted for a cold punch instead of a hot one.  This punch serves 40 punch cup servings (or less in 6-8 ounce glass).  Even though the punch can be used for the summer, it has a heavy-bodied feel that is nice in the winter, too.

1 gallon strong coffee – chilled
3/4 cups sugar
1 gallon chocolate ice cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 pint whipping cream (heavy cream) whipped
and sweetened
grated nutmeg

Combine the sugar, coffee and vanilla.  Stir to dissolve.  Refrigerate mixture.  To serve, scoop ice cream into the punch bowl.  Add refrigerated coffee mixture and then gently fold in the whipped cream.  Sprinkle the top with grated nutmeg to taste.

Servings:  40 punch cups full

I serve this up in an antique milk glass bowl, but it also looks great in a cranberry glass bowl and ladled up with a silver ladle.

Some appetizer recipes are to follow.

Happy decorating.  It’s time to bring tree, ornaments, and lights from the storage room!!!

Gail’s Cranberry-Orange Sauce


Cranberries popping

Cranberries popping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who are having diabetic friends or family to your home for the Thanksgiving holiday dinner, or if you are a diabetic yourself and trying to cut down on sugar consumption, here is a nice cranberry sauce recipe that you might find useful.  Instead of using gelatin or a cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce up, I’ve substituted a sugar-free marmalade or jelly that does the trick and lends the sauce a nice flavor.  You could try substituting a different light flavored jelly for the sugar-free marmalade I use here for a unique taste.

GAIL’S CRANBERRY-ORANGE SAUCE—

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 dry white  sugar substitute (Splenda or other cup for cup substitute)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar-free orange marmalade or jelly (or apricot, lemon or strawberry is good, too)
1 twelve (12 oz.) ounce package ‘fresh’ cranberries

In a 1  1/2 quart saucepan, mix sugar and water and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Bring to a boil, then add the cranberries.  Bring mixture back to a boil and simmer on reduce heat.  Cook on low simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until cranberries pop and are softened.  Liquid should be reddened.  Add marmalade or jelly and simmer slowly for approximately 4 minute, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and takes on a sheen.  For a thicker sauce, add a bit more jelly to taste.  Remove pan from heat.  Cool sauce completely to room temperature.

Place in container and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Makes about 2  1/2 cups.  Recipe can be doubled.

This is just a little snippet for you before I start cooking my thanksgiving desserts.  I expect to be too busy to add much in the way of wisdom and light between all the fussing, cleaning, cooking and fidgeting that we’ll be doing before our Thanksgiving repast.

“I hear the tread of
pioneers of nations yet to be,
The first low wash of waves where soon
shall roll a human sea”

—WHITTIER

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL.

Italian Ricotta Pie


Ricotta cheese.

Ricotta cheese. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Usually during this time of year, holiday tables are full of dessert pies made of a variety of fruit fillings.  On our table for Thanksgiving Day is a variety of ethnic dishes including one for this Italian basic ricotta pie.  It’s very rich, but it can be made with part-skim ricotta to cut down a bit on calories.  This is a quick and easy pie to make and should add a very distinct flavor to your holiday meal.

Crust:

 

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks (from large or extra large eggs)

Filling:

2 pounds Ricotta cheese (or part-skim_
1  1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 egg whites (from large or extra large eggs)
2 teaspoons lemon and rind
1  1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (not imitation)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

 

 

For the crust, place 2 cups flour in large mixing bowl with baking powder, stir dry ingredients to blend.  With fork, cut in margarine until small balls form.  Add vanilla and slowly put milk in while blending with fork until ball forms.  Add egg yolks and continue stirring until a large ball forms.  If it is too dry to roll, add just a small amount of milk until of rolling consistency.  Roll out dough onto waxed paper – one for top and one for bottom.  Put half of dough into bottom of 10 inch pie plate.  Reserve other half for top of ricotta pie.

For the filling, in mixer bowl place ricotta cheese, egg whites,  lemon and rind, mix.  Then add the confectioners sugar and vanilla extract.  Blend for approximately 7 minutes of medium speed or until smooth.  Pour into pie crust.  Place reserved pie crust on top of filling and crimp the edges as desired.  Brush top crust lightly with egg white and place four small cuts to vent steam.  Cover edges with aluminum foil to protect rim of pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Over the River…….


English: Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 ...

English: Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 – July 7, 1880) was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this post I don’t have to go far from home to remind me of the holiday season, of  Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’m reminded of one day in the 1980’s when I toured the home of Lydia Maria Childs’ grandparents who had owned an old Georgian Colonial on the other side of the Mystic River in Medford, Massachusetts in the U.S.A.  I had saved up enough money for a down payment on a house and Lydia Maria Childs’ grandparents old home was for sale.  I toured the house with my husband and I was extremely excited by the prospect of owning such a wonderful piece of American history. I said yes to the real estate agents offer of a purchase price of only $42,000.  Unfortunately, after adding up the costs of owning and maintaining such a large structure, we decided against the purchase and moved on to other options.  At a later date, Tufts University bought the home for a huge sum and the house remains on the U.S. Trust for Historic Preservations’ registered historic homes list.

Lydia Maria Child was a author, abolitionist and activist who was born into a prominent New England family in Medford, Massachusetts.  She was schooled in her early years in Medford Schools.  She would often visit her grandparents at their home and wrote this song as an adult.  Sometimes when the snow is deep and the air is chill, you can almost see the her sleigh coming across the old Craddock Bridge in Medford Square.

Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandfather’s House We Go

By Lydia Maria Child

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go:
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
and straight trough the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood,
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, ‘o, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for every one.’

Over the river, and through the wood,
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

May your holidays be as filled with joy as the young Lydia Maria Childs’ was on that long ago Thanksgiving Day.

Mexican Christmas Eve Salad


English: fresh fruit salad

English: fresh fruit salad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fresh fruit and vegetable of Mexico in Mexico ...

In this salad I use the original beets as it lends a festive air to this Mexican style salad.  If you want to use this for a dessert instead, leave the beets out.  Fresh beets are best, but for ease of preparation canned beets may be used if thoroughly drained.  Fresh fruit is preferred.  Sugar is the only sweet added or it may also be served with a thinned mayonnaise.  I like the following combination, but you can substitute a fruit ingredient for some other that you prefer.

INGREDIENTS:

1  3/4 cups orange sections or mandarin orange sections
1 cup apples, unpeeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 3/4 cups pineapple chunks
1 cup sliced bananas
3/4 cups roughly chopped unsalted peanuts
seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
1 cups cooked sliced or diced beets
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts

Mix all fruit pieces together.  Top with pomegranate seeds and chopped nuts

Sprinkle with superfine sugar (or granulated) or serve with thinned mayonnaise.

This makes a wonderful dessert or dinner starter served before a holiday meal.  It is usually served as part of the Christmas Eve meal in some parts of the world.

Aunt Julies’ Roast Turkey Stuffing


A stuffed turkey

A stuffed turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As promised, here is Aunt Julie Martins’ turkey stuffing recipe that was handed down for generations.  It is a very simple stuffing and one that does not present too much of a challenge for the everyday cook.  You can vary some of the add-in ingredients to suit your taste and mix them up for different flavor combinations.

YOU’LL NEED:

1  1/2 long loaves of white bread (Giant loaf or sandwich bread, fresh)
1 large onion
2 sticks melted butter or margarine
1 to 2  cups chicken or turkey broth ( or enough to moisten stuffing; homemade stock can be used)
Tablespoon dried sage
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary leaves
2 Tablespoon dried parsley
1  Tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1  1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, light or dark raisins, snipped dried apricot)
1  1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Put washed, dried and dressed turkey on rack in roasting pan.  To prepare stuffing, tear bread into bite size, irregular shaped pieces and place in a stock pot, very large metal bowl or another roasting pan.  Add the large finely chopped onion.  Season stuffing with sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add salt and pepper and mix together well.  Put in your choice of cranberries, raisins or dried apricot.  Add chopped nuts.  To this add just enough butter or margarine to moisten.  Add a small amount of broth to this to moisten it just slightly more. Remember that the liquid from the turkey will permeate the dressing, giving it more volume.  Stuff turkey with dressing.  If you have extra mixture, stuff neck cavity by loosening skin to form a pocket.
Cook as directed in previous post for Real Roast Turkey.  After cooling turkey, remove stuffing immediately.  Do not store finished turkey with stuffing inside.  The internal temperature of stuffing should read 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

I hope you enjoy this turkey stuffing.  We’ve been making it this way in my family for over 100 years.  It’s very simple and straightforward.  This is very good to use in turkey sandwiches after the holiday is over.

A Real New England Roast Turkey


English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine,...

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having been raised in the land of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving feast here in New England, I know firsthand that we take our selection of a Thanksgiving turkey very seriously.  It is that time of year again when the markets and supermarkets stock turkeys of all brands and varieties making selection a daunting task.  I don’t have room in a small post to list everything there is to know about selecting, thawing and preparing a turkey dinner, but I’ll try to break down the process into several smaller writings.

To those unfamiliar with the process of selecting and handling poultry, especially large American bred turkeys that can weigh over 24 pounds, I will simply give you this link to the United States Department of Agricultures’  fact sheets on the safe handling of turkey and poultry products:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey/index.asp

Here’s my familys recipe for roast turkey which is the way it was done by my great-aunt Julie.

ROAST TURKEY

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahreheit.

15 – 16 lb. thawed turkey
Aunt Julies’ stuffing (or of your choice to fill cavity of turkey)
1  1/2 sticks margarine or butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons sage (dried is fine)
1 Tablespoon thyme (dried o.k.)
1 Tablespoon rosemary (dried o.k.)
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 can chicken broth (16 ounces)
1 1/2 cups water

Remove giblet packet and neck from inside of cavity of turkey.  Sometimes the neck is loose inside the neck cavity.  Thoroughly wash turkey with cold water and place on counter on a platter and dry it completely with clean cloth or paper towels.  Do not let the raw turkey touch surfaces of counter.  Wash up behind yourself and periodically wash your hands with hot soapy water.

Stuff the turkey with stuffing mixture and  place on raised roasting rack in a deep sided large roasting pan.  Baste the turkey with melted butter or margarine, then sprinkle liberally with dried herbs, salt and pepper.  Pour broth and water into the bottom of the pan and cover with heavy duty aluminum foil, tenting slightly in the middle away from the top of turkey.    Place the stuffed turkey in the oven on the lowest oven rack and roast for 5 1/2 – 6 hours.  About 40 minute before roasting is complete, uncover the turkey so that it may brown.  Cook for additional 40 minutes until turkey is golden. Remove turkey from oven and check internal temperature with meat thermometer.  The thermometer should read 165 degrees when place in the thickest part of the thigh and, also, it should measure 165 degrees when placed in the thickest part of the breast.  Stuffing, likewise should be thoroughly done at 165 degrees.  Juices at leg joint should run clear.  Let stand for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

Serves 12 with leftovers

My hopes are that you have a very happy Thanksgiving season.
Aunt Julie’s Stuffing recipe follows in my next post.

Thank you for following my blog.

Chocolate Liqueur


English: Roasted cocoa (cacao) beans

English: Roasted cocoa (cacao) beans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a quick recipe for a liqueur that can be used for any special occasion.  I’ve found it an easy recipe to make and it is can be enjoyed after things have settled down after your holiday meal.

CHOCOLATE LIQUEUR

1 CUP LIGHT CORN SYRUP
3/4 CUP SUGAR
2 CUPS VODKA
3 TABLESPOONS CHOCOLATE EXTRACT
2 TEASPOONS PURE VANILLA EXTRACT

In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and corn syrup, stirring occasionally.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, being careful not to burn it.  Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes.  Mix in the vodka; stir in the

vanilla extract

vanilla extract (Photo credit: craftapalooza)

vanilla and chocolate extracts.  Pour finished liqueur into glass bottles with corks or into other fancy glass containers.  Cover and let stand for 2 or more days for the flavor to develop.

YIELD: 1 QUART

This is good served with a shortbread cookie or Biscotti’s.

Scrappy Pie


Newfoundland Blue Ensign.

Newfoundland Blue Ensign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remembrance Day falls this year in Canada on November 11th.  Some provinces and territories celebrate it, also, on November 12th.  My Dad hails from Newfoundland, and at times he made what he called scrappy pie to celebrate it.  It is on Remembrance Day there that Canadians  remember  all of the fallen soldiers from past wars.

My great-uncle Charles was killed in Belgium in the first World War and is buried  where he was killed defending his fallen comrades.  His name is called out and his memory is saluted by a contingent of military members at Parliament every year on this day.  For this I simply give you my father’s Americanized version of Scrappy Pie (or Newfoundland Seafood Pie):

Potato topping ingredients:   1 cup all purpose flour,  1/2 cup fresh mashed potato, 4 ounces butter, 1 tablespoon milk, 2  Tablespoons dried breadcrumbs.

Filling:  16 ounces whitefish (cod, haddock, whiting or your choice), large cooked shrimp (8 ounces), 1 small onion- chopped fine, 1 cup frozen peas, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped fine, zest of a lemon – grated, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 cups milk.

Sift flour into a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender or fork, mix this with the mashed potato until thoroughly blended.  Blend in the  butter,  then draw into a dough, adding a bit of water until dough sticks together.  Wrap dough in pastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.

Prepare filling by cutting fish into chucks and putting them into a 10 inch pie pan or baking dish.   Mix in the seafood, onions, peas, parsley and zest.  Blend the cornstarch with a bit of milk in a bowl.  Heat the remaining milk almost to boiling and stir it into the cornstarch mixture.  Return mixture to pan and stir until the mixture thickens.  Add seasoning and pour over fish filling.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Bring oven to 400F (200C).

Roll out the dough between sheets of wax paper to overlap to of pie plate.  Remove the top of the waxed paper and use the bottom sheet to help position dough on top of seafood mixture.

Press dough around edges of pan and clean up the edges.  Slash center of pie with small knife to vent steam.  Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle liberally with plain breadcrumbs.

Put pie on a baking sheet  Bake for 10 minutes – then drop temperature to 350F (180C).   Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

My father cooked this for us when we were very young and it’s the closest I can come to the original recipe.  I sought out Scrappy Pie recipes everywhere to no avail, so if someone could forward me more from the great nation of Canada, I would greatly appreciate it.

May you stay safe and sound on Remembrance Day.  And to my remaining Newfoundland cousins, may the sea treat you right and the cod keep running.

An Essay for Veterans Day


Elks National Veterans Memorial

Elks National Veterans Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the United States, Veterans Day falls on November 11th this year.   I am offering this little essay for your enjoyment.  It was written by me when I was just a girl of twelve years old in response to a national contest sponsered by the Lodge of Elks in my hometown.  I won the contest in the girls’ division and was very proud to have attended a ceremony where the essay was read by a group of veterans.  The premise of the contest was to write a piece about ‘Old Glory‘ and how it related to veterans who fought in our many conflicts.  I don’t know how appropriate it is to reprint here, but the sentiment then was heartfelt, and it remains that way to me today.

WHAT OLD GLORY MEANS TO ME

To me Old Glory means just what its famous name says, a flaming glory.  It symbolizes the honor, pride, trust and independence of the United State of America.  Old Glory is not just a flag.  It’s more than that.  It’s more than a piece of red, white and blue cloth made up of stars and stripes.  Maybe it’s a beginning of a deserved liberty and feedom, and a country where the freedoms of press, speech, and worship have a chance to thrive.  It describes a democracy in which no man shall suffer discrimination because of his color or race.  To me it means the freedom of all people to choose religion, jobs, and politics.

Old Glory stands for a nation where no man shall be a slave, denied the education and support that every human being positively must have.

In my heart, it means a free land, in which dignity and authority are maintained to the fullest and best of the country’s ability.  This great flag symbolizes our growing and striding country as a whole, a world power seeking peace which stands ready to defend the rights desired and cherished by every single person and American.  It’s a nation in which important officials of the United States are voted on by the people and are responsible to the people and is not a dictatorship.  Under a dictatorship our country might fall as other have done in past wars.  It may also, to me, stand for the bloody battles of past conflicts.  It means honor for the men and women who have sufffered in order to hold this United States together in time of crisis.  Old Glory means much to me.  It is the symbol of my country.

There is much more to this little essay that is lost in the 40 years since it was written and, of course, the conflicts in the Falklands, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others have taken place since that time.  The sentiment was meant to honor our veterans, and I hope that this year you will not forget to remember the sacrifices that those who have served in our armed forces have made for us.  These are men and woman who realize what their flag means to them.  Please try to give our vets the honor they truly deserve for having given their all to their country.

Have a good Veterans Day.

Old Hartford Election Cake


Cake!

I’ve decided to share with my readers a recipe for  Election Cake that is interesting in that there are a few very old variations that have not differed too much throughout the years.  The citron has been adjusted and you may use an extract in place of the pure brandy.  Just add 1 teaspoon of the extract instead of the 1/4 cup of brandy.

I’m offering this recipe in honor of the upcoming U.S. elections to be held next Tuesday, November 6th.  This will decide who our  next President will be and will shape the course our nation will take for the next four years.  Even though Election Day is not considered one of the national holidays here in America, it is a day of grave decision and reflection as Americans cast their votes.  If you have a night of poll watching or an election day function to arrange perhaps this cake might be a novel treat to serve to your guests.

OLD HARTFORD ELECTION CAKE

1 Tablespoon margarine (or other shortening)
1 package regular rise yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1  1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup margarine (or other shortening)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 well beaten large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon rind (grated fine)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped citron
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brandy (or omit and use 1 tsp. brandy extract)

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add one tablespoon butter, salt, sugar and 1 1/4 cups of flour, mixing thoroughly.
Set this aside in a warm place to rise overnight. Blend the 1/2 cup of margarine and cup of sugar and beat until light.
Add eggs, raising, citron, lemon rind, lemon extract and juice. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg.
Add this to first mixture, adding some brandy or extract slowly into mix. Combine raised dough with cake dough and pour into greased
pan. Let rise in warm place for one hour or until dough, pressed with finger, indents and is risen. Bake in 350 degree oven for one hour
While the cake is still warm, spread with icing made of confectioners sugar dissolved in enough warm water to make
a spreading consistency.

TO CELEBRATE OUR RIGHT TO VOTE!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Deutsch: Halloween-Deko, Concord, MA, USA

stiff egg whites
stiff egg whites (Photo credit: She Paused 4 Thought).

Today brings a normalization of the weather here in New England after the monster hurriane, Sandy, hit our shores.  We give thanks to God that we were spared, in my hometown, the devastation that struck the coast farther south of here, especially in the states of New York and New Jersey.  Our prayers go out to those whose lives were disastrously affected by the hurricane everywhere along the eastern seaboard.

Today, for everyone who is able to celebrate this Halloween holiday with some resemblance of normalcy, I simply give you an recipe from an old church bulletin.  I’m unsure where it originated from, but it was being used and copied somewhere around the 1960’s and has been made in my family to celebrate different holidays since that time. It is very good to use at children’s costume parties.

RASPBERRY KISSES

3 egg whites

3  1/2 Tablespoons raspberry gelatin

3/4 cups sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Line and grease large baking sheet with parchment or brown paper and preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat egg whites and salt on high speed with electric mixer until light and foamy.  Gradually add gelatin and sugar and continue beating to stiff peaks.  Mix until sugar is totally dissolved or kisses will be sticky.  Add the vinegar.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Drop by teaspoon onto lined, greased baking sheet.  Bake kisses at 250 degrees for 25 minutes and then turn off the oven, leaving them in oven for additional 20 minutes.  Remove baking sheet from oven and remove immediately to wire baking rack to cool.

Makes 6 dozen.

I hope you find these simple to make, and please have a safe, happy Halloween night.

Auntie Annie’s Halloween Chocolate Turtle Candy


English: A Pearson's Bun Bar shown whole. One ...

English: A Pearson’s Bun Bar shown whole. One of three flavors (caramel specifically) but all of the Bun Bars have the same outward appearance. Candy was provided from the Pearson’s Candy Company to Evan-Amos for the direct purpose of adding pictures to the Wikipedia articles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Auntie Annie’s busiest times of the year were most major holidays.  Not only was she busy during American holidays, but during most of the major international ones, as well.  You see, she was a worker at one of the larger U.S. candy factories that made famous brand novelty and boxed fancy assortments.  She had been working at the factory as a line worker and then a fancy chocolates dipper since the turn of the 20th century.  She would trek off to the chocolate factory every morning for over fifty years, having started her job, in those very emancipated days, at a young and tender age.   Her salary was well received by her struggling family, who also enjoyed the fruits of her labors – having access to chocolate bars, candy wafers, turtle clusters, caramel, and a full product line of tooth decaying, fattening goodies.

During the holidays , before Halloween, Auntie Annie would have us for a visit and when she was making candy gifts for Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Years, Hanukkah and Christmas, she would often teach me how to make one of the famous candies that she worked to turn out on a daily basis at the factory.  She would have huge pans of bubbling, boiling caramel.  Chocolate would be melting at the front of the stove.  Her idea of a double boiler was a spaghetti cooking pan with a very large bowl sitting on top.  There were several of these crowding her old fashioned stove.  She taught me how to make her famous Chocolate turtle clusters when I was about fifteen years old.  During that visit, she also tried to teach me how to put the swirls on those fancy chocolates with creme centers, but I was a dismal failure and my attempts looked more like puckery little blobs.  Those were fun and unique Autumn days and we, as little children (and all of our young friends, too),  looked forward to our holiday boxes and tins of these delicious, sinful, ultimately perfect treats. I hope you like them as much as my family does.

ANNIE’S CHOCOLATE TURTLE CANDY

Equipment needed – large baking sheets, metal spoons, wooden spoons, measuring spoons, waxed paper, large metal bowls, double boiler, candy tins and boxes.

Cover baking sheets with waxed paper and grease lightly grease waxed paper with margarine.

INGREDIENTS

42 candy caramel squares

3 Tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups dry roasted peanuts, unsalted (may use toasted walnuts, unsalted almonds, macadamia nuts or hazelnuts)

1 cup milk chocolate morsels or chopped milk chocolate bars

Arrange several nuts, in cluster, on baking sheet.  You may use the amount you would like.  Place nuts one inch apart or more from each other.  Put caramel squares in the double boiler with butter and put over boiling water until completely melted, stirring constantly.  When caramels are melted, remove from stove and stir in vanilla.  Drop melted caramel in spoonfuls onto nuts until they are thoroughly covered.   Let nut clusters cool to a firm, cool stage.  Melt the chocolate and butter in double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.  Pour melted chocolate over nut clusters and cool them on the tray until they are firm.  Do not chill in refrigerator as this may discolor the candy clusters.  Put in metal tins between squares of wax paper and store in a cool, dry place.

We always loved making these with my Aunt Annie and no holiday was complete without them.  I plan to get started on mine in a few days for future gift giving.  I wonder if my aunt haunts the old site of the candy factory these days, wandering the halls, checking on equipment, chocolate mixtures, and trekking into the factory to check on the efficiency of present day laborers.

If they hear the sound of her shoes tapping around the chocolate vats, then they know that she’s on the lookout  this Halloween season.

Happy Halloween.

The Witches of Salem, Massachusetts


Examination of a Witch by T. H. Matteson, insp...

Title page of "A Modest Enquiry into the ...

Salem, Massachusetts lies just north of my home in the vicinity of Boston, Massachusetts on the northeastern coast of the United States.  The town is steeped in early colonial history being the location of the famed Salem witch trials.  To this day, the infamy of trials remains strong in the minds of New Englanders, and to the thousands of American tourists and foreign visitors who flock to  Salem throughout the fall season and Halloween night on October 31st.  During this time, many venues are open to visitors who come dressed in all manner of costume to visit restaurants, plays, museums, local merchants, ghost houses, and historical attractions.  If you have a chance to come to Salem for a attraction or tour, don’t be surprised if you see revelers dressed as ghosts, goblins or ghoulies, witches, monsters, and vampires.  You might even meet up on their fog ridden, supposedly haunted sidewalks or graveyards,  the ghosts of hung trial victims or, perhaps, a wandering brain-eating zombie.  Revelers abound and children and, adults as well, all enjoy the festivities that are, in thanks,  mostly to the witch trials that took place there.  Here is a brief, capsulized explanation of the events that took place in those harsh, superstitious times.

In 1692 at what is now Salem, 20 people were put to death and 200 were accused of practicing witchcraft.  Hysteria reined in the town and the surrounding area, spreading throughout Massachusetts.  It was during those early years of the colony  that it was believed that the devil granted those loyal to him the power to cast spells and to bewitch the inhabitants.

In 1628, Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded through a charter with King Charles II of England.  The Puritans, through this charter, were given rights to colonize in that area of Massachusetts.  The charter was revoked later because of violations, including discriminating against Anglicans and running a mint, among other infractions.

In 1691, resentment ran high among the colonists.  Families argued with neighbors over minor disputes, smallpox ran rampant, and problems arose with the local Native American tribes.  Add to that harsh New England weather and the populace was ripe for tension.

In the early Winter of 1692, young girls – Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams began having fits (contortions, shaking, screaming and gibbering in what appeared to be some devilish throes of spasms).  Soon, other girls in the town also started showing signs of what the local physician deemed to be bewitchment by the devil.  Arrest warrants were issued the following month for Sarah Good, an elderly woman, and Sarah Osborn, a beggar, who the girls accused of witchcraft.  As time went on more girls joined the hysteria and they too began having uncontrollable devilish fits,  with the addition of feeling as if they were being bitten and pinched.

Mary Shelby, a neighboring matron, proposed a counter black magic in the form of requesting that her slave, Tituba, bake a rye cake cooked with the urine of a victim.  The cake was to be fed to a dog (a witches agent).  Tituba was also being suspected of witchcraft and bewitching of her neighbors.   Her baking of the witch-cake made her even more suspect.  On February 29th warrants were issued for Tituba and two other woman.  Some victims, at this point claimed  they saw “witches flying through the mist”.  Tituba, in the end, after a trial in a court of ‘oyer’ and ‘terminer’ admitted to being a witch to shift blame from herself and cast doubts on others.

Eventually, when the trials ended nineteen people had been executed, most hung at the Salem Gallows and others pressed by stone until their death.  Four of the victims of the witchcraft hysteria perished in prison.  Overall, 200 people were accused of witchcraft.  At a later date all of the people accused of witchery were exonerated, but the memory still lingers among New Englanders.  Today, what remains of the accused and victims are the, perhaps, imagined spirits that roam the streets and byways of modern Salem, Massachusetts.

I am including a recipe that I found locally that is very close to the original  used in the early years at Salem and the surrounding locale.  This recipe dates from the 1800’s, but I do not know how close in ingredients it is to the original.  Fat and calorie content have not been adjusted.  It would not do  justice to this original to change it.  The flavor would just not be the same.

SALEM PUDDING (or WITCHES PUDDING)

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup molasses

1 cup whole milk

1 cup salt pork, chopped very fine

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Sift together the flour and spices.  Add in the chopped salt pork and raisins.  Mix thoroughly.  Dissolve the baking soda in the molasses and then add it to the milk.  Mix well until molasses is incorporated.  Gradually add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, beating well with electric mixer until well blended. The mixture should be smoother at this point.  Pour into large pudding mold of your choosing.  A Halloween themed mold would be a good choice.  Steam the pudding for 4 hours.  Cool the  pudding and unmold on fancy ceramic plate.  Serve with sauce of your choosing.

(To steam pudding – 1. Find a large pan with tight fitting lid to fit your mold 2. Lightly bunch a large wad of aluminum foil and place in bott m of pan   3. Wrap pudding mold in cheesecloth and place of foil without mold touching pan bottoms or sides  4. Add water up side of pudding mold halfway  5. Cover pan tightly using fitted lid and steam on low heat for 4 hours on low heat or until tester comes out clean  6. Unmold from pan after gently loosening by turning upside down onto platter or plate.)

This can be served with some whipped cream.  This is a nice dish for a cold Halloween night dinner.