Merry Christmas! The season seemed to come upon us rather quickly this year. I hope you are ready. I can't say that I am. No one knows what was planned for the day, so no one can say it wasn't done. The most important part is having family and friends around to celebrate the real meaning of this season. There is a lot of meaning in the saying "reason for the season." Let us never forget it.
Christmas is a time for tradititions and especially family traditions. Dad loved Christmas above all other times of the year. Maybe it was because that was the time he got to come home to family after the season sailing on the Great Lakes and maybe he was raised in a German household that held Christmas as the most important time of the year. He loved family and friends around and entertained all around him. His "Christmas" recipes were not for the weak souls and we remember them, but don't serve them ourselves. Today, the recipes he served guests will be included, with a warning about the eggnog!
Some years ago, I wrote a Christmas poem about our experiences here on the hilltop of Podunk Hollow one Christmas, and that will be included for those who have requested it as my Christmas gift to them.
THE MOUSE THAT STOLE CHRISTMAS AT OUR HOUSE
"Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house,
No one was sleeping because of that mouse!
Stockings which had been hung by the chimney with care,
Had holes nibbled in them held nothing but air!
The dogs had all snuggled all snug on my bed
No thoughts of mouse hunting had entered their heads.
And Norm in his PJ's and me in my gown
Had just turned off the news of Parkersburg town,
When out in the kitchen I heard a pan fall, And ran to the door to look at it all.
I ran to the counter, I saw a grey flash.
I knew in a moment it would be a clash!
The sugar that spilled looked like new-fallen snow,
While cookies lay broken and crumbled below.
Then what to my maddening eyes did appear
But a beady-eyed mouse with a menacing sneer!
With whiskers that twitched and movements so quick,
I knew in a moment it wasn't St. Nick!
More rapid than rabbits, the dogs, here they came,
In pure frustration I called them by name.
Now, Alex! Now, Klingon! Now, Heidi! Now, Fats!
If you don't catch that mouse, I will trade you for cats!
As flour in a mixer on the counter will fly,
So went the cookies and candies right up toward the sky.
Up on the counter, the pooches, they flew,
Then down on the floor went all the cakes, too!
All of my work; the cooking, the kneading,
The dipping in chocolate, the Christmas bread seeding,
The money spent for flour and for yeast
Now all destroyed by that mouse's feast!
I might have relented and said, "He enjoyed!"
If he hadn't pushed too far in what he destroyed.
The candy I made just for myself
And hid away back there on the shelf.
He tasted each one, knocked them on the floor,
Then he scurried away, right under the door.
The screaming and yelling and barking so loud
Destroyed "Peace on Earth" in this family's yard!
Here's a note to that mouse, "Better stay out of sight!
Or you'll be a treat on this Christmas night.
I'll hunt you and catch you here on the mat,
And dip you in chocolate as a gift for the cat!"
Merry Christmas to everyone, even Mouse!
One fifth brandy (Christian Brothers)
One pint dark rum
One dozen eggs
One-half gallon whole milk
One pint whipping cream, slightly whipped
One-half cup sugar
Nutmeg for garnish
Separate eggs and whip whites stiff. Whip yolks until thick and add sugar to them. Combine all ingredients except egg whites and nutmeg and mix. Fold in egg whites. Serve with a dash of nutmeg (fresh ground is best).
Leftover eggnog can be stored in the refrigerator, but it is best when freshly made. This is strong, and should be consumed with moderation!
TOM AND JERRY
Two pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
Beat eggs very well (thick and yellow). Add sugar and beat together well.
FOR EACH SERVING:
One jigger rum
One jigger brandy
Put into large mug. Fill with HOT water. Add two tablespoons egg mixture on top. Add dash of nutmeg.
Two cups brown sugar
Two quarts water
Two to three cups rum
Six whole cloves
Four sticks cinnamon
One-half cup butter
Pour all ingredients into a crockpot. Put on high for two hours, then low for 8-10 hours. Serve in mugs. Keep leftovers at room temperature and reheat to serve.
PATTY'S PRIVATE STOCK CANDY
One-half stick butter
Two to three tablespoons bourbon or rum
Enough sifted confectioners' sugar to make a workable fondant
Dark chocolate for dipping
Hazelnuts (or pecans)
Knead butter, bourbon and sugar until smooth and the right consistency to make candy centers. Take about one teaspoon of the fondant and wrap it around a hazelnut (filbert) or pecan half. Make certain the nut is completely enclosed. Place on waxed paper covered cookie sheet and let stand for about one hour. Melt dark chocolate candy coating. Dip the centers in the chocolate and let harden in the refrigerator. Candy for ADULTS ONLY!
HOT COCOA MIX
One-and-one-third cups sugar
One cup instant non-fat dry milk powder
One cup non-dairy coffee creamer powder
Three-fourth cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Mix the first three ingredients. Sift in cocoa powder and stir well. Store in tightly covered jar. To serve, place four heaping teaspoonfuls in an 8-oz. mug. Add boiling water and stir. Use a candy cane or a cinnamon stick for a stirrer for an added touch.
A jar of this with directions to make, a Santa mug, and several candy canes is a neat gift for any kid.
SPICED TEA MIX
One-and-one-fourth cups instant orange-flavored breakfast drink
Two-thirds cup instant tea with lemon and sugar
One teaspoon ground cloves
One teaspoon ground cinnamon
One teaspoon ground allspice
One-fourth teaspoon grated lemon rind
One-fourth teaspoon grated orange rind
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. To serve, put three or four teaspoons mix in a cup and add boiling water. Stir well.
This with a pretty cup and saucer makes a nice gift Christmas Tea gift.
One-half gallon raspberry sherbet
One can (46-oz) pineapple juice
One 2-liter bottle ginger ale
Chill juice and ginger ale. Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl.
Three-fourths pound butter
One pound dark brown sugar
One teaspoon baking soda
One-half cup hot coffee
Three cups flour
One-half teaspoon cloves
One teaspoon nutmeg
One teaspoon cinnamon
One-half pound dates
One pound dark raisins
One pound golden raisins
One pound currants
One-and-one-half pounds red candied cherries
One pound candied pineapple
One pound pecans
One bottle (fifth) Apricot Brandy
Soak fruit (cut up) in two cups brandy overnight in an airtight container. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs, one at a time. Stir in coffee. Combine dry ingredients and stir in. Add soaked fruit with juice. Bake in six or seven foil pans (that have been lined with heavy paper and greased) in a preheated 300-degree oven for approximately one hour. Cool, then remove from pans and remove paper. Wrap cakes in cheesecloth soaked with more brandy and store in airtight container. Esch week, unwrap, soak the cloth with more brandy and rewrap. When ready to serve or give as gifts, these can be decorated with more candied fruit and pecan halves held on with some glaze (melted jelly is good or a syrup made with light corn syrup and a little water). To give as gifts, place cakes back in foil pans and wrap with cellophane and add a bow and some holly or evergreen sprigs. Even folks who (don't like fruitcake) love this flavorful cake.
Patty Christopher is a longtime food columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org