Wishing you a very special Silent Night from Lou

Published 6:09 pm Friday, December 21, 2007

By Staff
Church bells tolling, soft feathery flakes of snow, music soft and sweet echoing from the voices of the carolers, children's laughter in the frosty air, the aroma of pine as it saturates even the farthest corners of our home, the fragrance of bayberry candles, the delicious odor of sage, mince, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and gingerbread … scents so strong that it causes the eyes to tear, the rustle of Christmas wrappings.
Hearts filled with memories from cherished moments, Yule logs burning on an open hearth, footsteps squeaking on crunchy snow, snow piled high on fence and post, our lovely Christmas flower with its bright scarlet petals, holly berries burning so bright with their crimson lights that they appear as fairy lamps under the winter sky. Have you ever noticed how the heart goes home on Christmas Day, no matter how many miles distance you apart? The road that leads to Christmas is lined with memories of holly wreaths and candles and the days that used to be.
Now that I have shared with you all the sights, sounds and scents of Christmas, I am going to throw caution to the winds and not worry about obesity and cholesterol in today's recipes.
Blue Cheese Ball
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Combine all ingredients except parsley. Blend together well and form into a ball. Roll in chopped parsley, then refrigerate immediately to thoroughly chill.
*An attractive and lasting gift to complement a bottle of homemade wine is an ice bucket.
Brandied Apricots
2 – 30 ounce cans whole apricots
3/4 cup brandy
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
6 whole cloves
Drain apricots, reserving two cups of the syrup. Into a saucepan, combine the syrup with the brandy and spices, then bring this mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Pour this hot syrup over the drained apricots in a bowl. Cover and chill for a good three to four hours or until serving time, or pack into jars immediately.
A last minute gift with a personal touch, tie pieces of candy to an inexpensive artificial wreath. Children love this.
Popcorn Tree
8 cups popped corn
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 – 12 inch styrofoam cone
wooden toothpicks
gum drops
Combine the water, corn syrup and sugar in a saucepan. Cook, without stirring, over a medium heat until the syrup reaches softball stage (240 degrees). Pour this syrup over the popcorn, mixing with your hands until the popcorn is coated. Quickly form small amounts of mixture into balls of various sizes. To assemble the tree, place a toothpick in each ball and then stick into cone to form tree. Use smaller balls at the top of the tree. Insert gum drops for ornaments.
'Tis the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial fire of charity in the heart.
Smoked Beef Dip
1 teaspoon onion, minced
1 tablespoon sherry
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 – 3 ounce package smoked beef, minced
1/4 cup stuffed olives, minced
Soak the onions in sherry until soft. Add the remaining ingredients.
*No matter in what state our world is, Christmas comes round again to renew our belief in brotherhood and peace and give us hope.
Nibble Mix
1 pound butter, melted
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons onion salt
Rice Chex
Wheat Chex
Pretzel sticks
1 can mixed nuts
Place butter into the baking dish, then place in oven to melt. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Add the cereals, pretzels and mixed nuts. Sprinkle with the garlic and onion salts. Bake for one hour in a 225 degree oven. (Note: I stir this mixture every 15 minutes while it is baking.)
*When the moon comes up over the snow on Christmas Eve and the yard is ribboned with long delft-blue shadows, it reminds me of the immense power of our creator!
3-4 cups flour
2 packages dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons rum extract
butter, softened
1/3 cup ground almonds
confectioners sugar, sifted
canned fruits
light corn syrup
Stir together the two cups of flour and yeast. Heat the milk, raisins, water, sugar, butter and salt over a low heat to 120 degrees, stirring to blend. Add this to flour mixture and beat until smooth, about three minutes on medium speed of mixer. Blend in the eggs and extract; add one half cup of flour and then continue to beat for two minutes. Add just enough flour to make a thick batter. Cover; let rise in a warm area until doubled in volume and batter is bubbly (about one hour). Stir down. Spoon into 1 1/2 quarts or three one quart fancy molds that have been buttered and dusted with ground almonds. Cover; let rise in warm area until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for one hour for the 1 1/2 quart loaves or 45 minutes for the 1 quart loaves. If necessary to prevent excessive browning, cover during the last 10 minutes of baking. Unmold on wire racks. Dust with confectioners sugar. Decorate with candied fruits and nuts that have been dipped into corn syrup. 2 large or 3 small loaves.
Dark Fruitcake
1 cup light molasses
1/2 cup water
2 pounds seedless raisins
2 pounds mixed candied fruit, diced
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup orange juice
3 cups coarsely chopped nuts
Blend molasses and water in a large saucepan. Bring this to a boil at a medium heat while stirring constantly. Add the raisins; bring to a boil again and stir well. Reduce the heat to low, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the heat; mix in the candied fruit, then set aside to cool. Cream the butter, add the sugar gradually, beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the orange rind. Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture. Stir in the fruit mixture and nuts. Pour into two greased 9x5x3-inch pans, lined with greased wax paper. Bake for 3 hours in a 275 degree oven. (Note: this makes two three and one half pound fruitcakes.)
*The Christmas tree to me is a symbol of the rich growth which nature gives us all.
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup cultured sour cream
4 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
1/3 cup citron, finely chopped
blanched almonds
Combine syrup, soda and shortening; bring this to a boil; remove from the heat. Mix in 2 cups of flour, cover and refrigerate for several days. Remove from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Cream butter, add sugar gradually then beat in eggs and sour cream. Mix in room temperature syrup mixture. Stir in sifted dry ingredients, chopped almonds and citron. Cover; refrigerate for several days. Allow this dough to soften at room temperature before rolling. Roll the dough one quarter inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into large oblong pieces about 3×2 inches, or use cookie cutters. Place onto greased cookie sheets; decorate with blanched almonds. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until delicately browned.
*Christmas candles are a symbol of the star which illuminated all Judea with a wondrous heavenly glow.
Caramel Corn
4 cups popped corn
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
Combine the popped corn and nuts; spread them on an ungreased baking sheet. Melt the margarine, stir in the corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the mixture turns a light caramel color, remove from the heat and stir in the extract. Pour over corn and nuts and mix until all pieces are coated. Spread out to dry. Break into pieces and store in a covered container
*An interesting footnote is that each holiday season, voices in scores of tongues recreate a heavenly song born in humble circumstances 175 Christmases ago! Back in the early 1800s Curate Joseph Mohr, 26, and his good friend Franz Zaver Gruber, 31, composed the popular song "Silent Night." Mohr was responsible for writing the words and Gruber composed the melody. This song was first sung in the year 1818. The author, Mohr, aged 55 died of pneumonia, never realizing that his song had reached some of Earth's farthest corners. Gruber, then 67, verified the origin of the song. This popular carol is now sang on every continent in the world in scores of languages, from the original German to Welsh, from Swahili to Afrikaans, from Japanese to Russian. During the Christmas truce of 1914, German soldiers in the trenches along the Western Front began signing "Silent Night." From the other side of no man's land, British soldiers joined in. During the same war, at a Siberian prison camp, German, Austrian and Hungarian prisoners broke into a chorus of "Silent Night."" Still later, on Christmas Eve during the Korean War, a young American soldier was on guard duty when he thought he heard the enemy approach. Finger on the trigger, he watched a crowd of Koreans emerge from the darkness and they sang Silent Night in Korean … just for him.