Christmas Will Come

For the naysayers who think that we all rush the Christmas season, I say humbug. My grandmother used to tell me stories of how she would start in October baking fruitcakes for Christmas giving. I don’t remember that, but probably because we didn’t visit in the fall, we had visits at Easter and Christmas, mostly as I recall… in the midst of the holiday celebrations when the fruition of the plans and preparations were unwrapped, served, and enjoyed.

The reason for writing this is because the other day @ Curves the women were all talking about looking for creative recipes to add to their Thanksgiving menus. Not too creative, mind you, when the conversation turned to one artichoke pastry sidedish. That was deemed a bit too California for these midwestern ladies.. the consensus was that the kids wouldn’t touch it, and it seemed too complicated to make anyway. I remained quiet. Too busy working out.
But then I thought of my page of holiday menus and how that now might be a good time to post it here. I am considering making something more creative this year myself. So once I work that out maybe I will try for posting that, although I doubt if I will be blogging as much when the holidays arrive in earnest. I tend to be a basic down-home sort of cook, like many of my midwestern ladies @ Curves cohorts.

My Holiday Menus, from Christmas in Ohio website (which I just renovated due to moving to my own domain). Enjoy.

For those interested, there are some wonderful ideas in Martha Stewart Living, and I am seriously thinking of brining the turkey this year as per her instructions. I know MS got lots of flack for her jail time, but she really does wonderful things with the home living ideas! I have her Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook, which I bought for a daughter-in-law and myself. I also have a Christmas softcover book, but I like to get the magazines to see new recipes, etc.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for all of Martha Stewarts homemaking sensibilities. It appeals to the challenge of the impossible in me.

Potatofest 2006

Rebecca Writes is hosting a potato fest– and this is just the right time of year for it- while the weather turns cold and you want something substantial on your table. She has a wonderful picture from Carl Larsson to help in the celebration and is gathing in the recipes and posts from all over.

I have something to contribute as well ( to go with the recipe inspiration from The Anchoress earlier in the week) Just too much happiness for one week 🙂

Ok. Here is my recipe [posted a long time ago in one of my old blogs, Spiced Tea]:

Homey Colcannon-based Casserole

For the casserole base: You will need some potatoes, I recommend Yukon Gold.

bag of coleslaw- sliced cabbage

small onion sliced finely, sauted til soft

some heavy cream, and some milk, as well as a bit of butter. Some shredded cheese, I used cheddar.

And slices of Gouda.

One parsnip, some breadcrumbs,

some flavored olive oil ( I like cilantro flavored),

and your favorite spice mix (like for bread dipping).

OK. Slosh a bit of the heavy cream across the bottom of the casserole dish.

Fill large pan with water to parboil the sliced potatoes. Remove those and place in casserole dish or glass pan. Add some milk enough to keep the potatoes moist during baking. Sprinkle with salt , cracked pepper and Hungarian Paprika.

Next layer the onions on top

Use the same water to parboil the sliced cabbage until just fresh green. Remove to bowl.

Press out excess water then add as a layer on top of the potatoes.

Sprinkle with more Paprika, salt and cracked pepper.

Dot with butter over the top, cover with aluminum foil, and bake slowly at 300 degrees ( slow oven) until everything is nicely baked.

Remove from the oven and then sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese.

Ok that is the basic, but here is what sets it apart:

Saute parsnip, sliced into matchsticks, in a drizzle of the olive oil sprinkled with the dipping spices.

After they soften, add breadcrumbs and continue to cook til crumbs brown.

Add thin slices of Gouda to the top of the colcannon casserole, melt a bit, add the parsnips as a garnish around the side.

It probably has bunches of calories from the cheese, but it is very good, satisfying and nutritious . Very homey type meal. Excellent with Constant Comment Green tea.

The Anchoress » Baked Oatmeal; it’s like eating Christmas!

After a number of years of cooking you get to know -just from reading a recipe- whether something is worthwhile to add to your cooking repetoire. My bets are on this recipe that The Anchoress posted. When you have loads of your family in for the holidays you want something yummy and simple and capable of feeding a large group for breakfast- and I am thinking especially of Christmas morning breakfast. This promises to substitute for the sausage casserole and far surpass it.

Large families take note! Delicious, good for you, and sounds easy. The Anchoress has done me a service in posting this recipe. I’ll let you know the feedback 😉 after it makes its debut on the gathered family table.

The Anchoress » Baked Oatmeal; it’s like eating Christmas!
a steaming bowl of something slightly crusty on top, moist below, served with hot milk on the side. It smelled heavenly, and I took a spoonful and thought, “dear Lord…this is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted…” It was oatmeal, but it had apples and cranberries and walnuts in it, and brown sugar and raisins and cinnamon…and I took another taste and said to Buster, “this is like eating Christmas! It’s just unreal!”

( and no… it is not too early to think about Christmas holidays )

Spagetti Pasta Salad

By special request [well, Mark La Roi wondered what it was….]

original recipe:

1 (12 oz.) pkg. spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 (16 oz.) bottle Kraft Zesty Italian dressing
1 chopped red onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 sm. can sliced black olives, drained
1 chopped tomato

Kroger’s salad seasonings or McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning to taste

Mix the above ingredients. Chill and serve.

====my variations=====
I simply add whatever fresh veggies are around, so usually chopped carrots and cucumbers find their way in. Tomato is a must, but I have been known to toss in some Harry and David’s onion and pepper relish, which makes everything better….

I’ve tried different Italian dressings but you need something strong, as the noodles cut the flavor- I often use Wishbone. Some people don’t like the McCormick Salad Supreme, and sometimes I am not in the mood for its flavor… so I substitute Italian mixed herbs, those for dipping sauces are good.

Oh yeah. I add fresh cracked black pepper in as well, and sometimes shredded cheese if in the mood for that…

Anyway, however you make it, this is always really popular. Great for pot-lucks. It is easy and you usually have the stuff handy, which makes it one of those things that you make spontaneously “oh wow, I feel like some pasta salad today” because you can mix and match ingredients. Just be sure you have the Italian dressing.

Best Turkey Post


I cook a pretty good turkey, if I do say so… and this recipe with gorgeous pics from The Doc is a winner, I can tell. The method I do a bit differently is take the long way of buttering the skin. I cut tiny slices in the skin (without piercing the flesh) and insert bits of butter. The flavorings used here are unique to me, and worth trying. I’ve used apple in the stuffing, but never tarragon. Usually I use good ol’ poultry seasoning along with salt and cracked pepper.

I cheated on the gravy this year and did a sour cream ( easier for me, but oh-my-the-calories). I like the same kind of turkey he recommends (natural never frozen-fresh) and second the fact that the ‘ free range turkey’ tends to be dry. My husband nixed it for this year.

I am iffy with gravy some years, but this year was good- I add Hungarian paprika to the gravy- ’cause that is how I like it. Kind of Paprikash turkey. heh. I don’t know that I would do that with tarragon flavor.

Also I don’t flip the turkey, I do manufacture my own little aluminum foil tent. I’m afraid I would flip that bird right onto the floor. I baste often-just because it makes me feel so virtuous and I get to inspect the browning, always adding broth when it needs it.

Wow, I love a finely done turkey.

If you’d like my recipe on how to do this turkey roasting, see my recipes in my link.

Thanksgiving Turkey with All the Trimmings

If you want a masterful post on cooking a perfect Bird:

The Doctor Is In: ‘Doin da Bird’

Chicken Soup

Via Julie, I chanced upon My Mom’s Blog by Thoroughly Modern Millie. I can see the draw, this is a delightfully written blog. Like a visit with Grandma for some of you. Although she’s a bit younger than my own mother, her remembrance of her mother’s chicken soup reminds me of my grandmother.

Chicken soup was always the first course of Sunday dinner in my Grandmother’s house. My grandfather was Old Europe in manners and rituals, but (proudly) without a trace of accent in his language. He preached two services every Sunday morning, one in Hungarian and one in English, to his largely immigrant congregation, while the soup and, often, cabbage rolls were slowly cooking to perfection in the parsonage. My grandmother was an accomplished organist, supplementing the family income playing funerals, and always playing the hymns and Bach selections in the Church.

They were the old time pastoral ministry that “did it all”. Maybe I’ll write more on that sometime, today I want to extol my grandmother’s chicken soup. It was a rich and golden soup and always had to be served hot ( my grandfather insisted upon just the right temperature!). Flavored with parsley and saffron, it held chicken pieces, chunks of orange carrot, and always, giblets. I delighted in getting either the heart or the gizzard. Something my family here, with my soggy noodle German-background husband and offspring, cannot appreciate. There was something wonderful about those chewy organ meats that cannot be explained to the uninitiated or unwilling.

Being the first course of the meal, it was served in large soup plates and then had a chance to cool during my grandfather’s long prayer, which always seem to irritate my mother, but which I always liked.

There were many things about my grandmother’s house that I liked. I liked the breakfasts of soft boiled eggs in cups with the little tops gingerly sliced off with a sharp rap of the knife. I liked the fresh perked coffee that flavored my milk and the Ovaltine that was served with apple butter and toast. I loved the ‘Daily Bread’ devotionals previous to the repast, and then running the coffee grounds to the rich garden soil in the backyard garden.

And the way my grandmother sneaked to burn the trash on Sunday and swore me to secrecy , so no one would get lectured by my Calvinist grandfather who was out making Sunday calls.

I make my chicken soup differently than my grandmother, but hers was a thing of art. It held the warmth and the scent of love serving one’s family. It was dependable, and it was a comfort.

We need more chicken soup today, slow simmered and served leisurely, with everone seated around the table.

Ocean Guy Turned Me On

…to a recipe he recommends for Key Lime Pie. I love Key Lime Pie! This is a very simple recipe that he says he uses ( from Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice )

Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Pie

* 1-9″ graham cracker pie shell
* 1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
* 3 egg yolks (whites not used)
* 1/2 cup Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice

Combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating. Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream and garnish with lime slices.

While I was on the site, I found this:

Mango-Avocado Salad

* 1½ cups shredded cabbage
* ½ cup diced cucumbers
* 1 ripe mango, peeled, cut from pit and diced
* 1 red bell pepper, cored, deveined and diced
* 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
* 6 green onions, thinly sliced
* ¼ cup watercress, stemmed
* 4-6 tablespoons Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice
* 1 garlic clove, crushed
* Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

That sounds so good, but I probably will substitute something for the watercress, which isn’t easily available to me. I’m thinking fresh cilantro, which always goes well with lime, or baby lettuces? That sounds really good to me. maybe both.

Thanks, Ocean Guy!

By Special Request: Kifli

I have two that I like.

Hungarian Pastries (Kifli)

* An 8 oz. block of cream cheese
* 2 sticks butter(1 cup)
* 2 1/2 cup flour
* Apricot preserves


(1) Cream butter and creamcheese.
(2) Add flour roll out thin Cut into rectangles or use circle cookie cutter
(3) Fill rounds with spoonful of jam Pinch closed and place on ungreased cookie sheet
(4) Bake at 350 F. til golden (10 min.?) (5) Turn over in confectioners sugar to coat.


4 c. unsifted flour
2 c. butter
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 c. dairy sour cream
1 egg, beaten

1 1/4 lb. walnuts (ground)
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1 Tbsp. almond extract
2 egg whites whipped

(1)Cut butter into flour with pastry blender
til mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg
yolks and sour cream. Stir.
Turn out on lightly floured surface
knead until smooth and shape into ball. (If
too sticky, use more flour.)
(2)Filling: Combine nuts, sugar, milk, extract,
and egg white; blend well.
(3) Heat oven to 400 degrees and grease cookie
(4)On floured surface, roll out quarter of dough
at a time to measure,16 by 12 inches,1/4 inch
thick. Cut into 2 inch squares.
(5)Place generous 1/2 tsp. filling in each square,
then overlap two opposite corners. Pinch edges
to seal. Place on cookie sheets and brush
with beaten egg.
(6)Bake 10 to 12 minutes til golden. Roll in
confectioners sugar.

I actually have all my favorite cooky recipes on the net…inside the Christmas Page I made. Not updated, but hey- I blog now.
======Christmas 2009=========
**** That was then. Now I do update the Christmas Page which has it’s own domain and everything 🙂