Fondly recalling stocking stuffed with orange, apple and walnuts

Published 12:09 am Saturday, December 20, 2008

By Staff
This time of the year inevitably brings out memories of a small white bungalow on Dayton Street, where my first memories of life began.
It is mid-December and my sister and I are anxiously awaiting my father's return home from work for he has promised to take us to pick out our Christmas tree.
The time was long years before my family owned any kind of motorized transportation, and since the sidewalks were snow-filled, we realized it would take Dad longer to negotiate the distance on foot.
Eventually, we see the familiar figure around the corner … lunch bucket in hand and a big smile creasing his face.
No sooner had he taken the time to deposit his bucket on the kitchen counter than the three of us were off in pursuit of our tree … a distance of perhaps six to eight city blocks.
Needless to say, the trip there was made in haste, compared to the return journey, when we girls learned that negotiating a prickly pine tree through snow-clogged streets can slow you down a bit; despite the fact that Dad bore the greater share of the burden.
Looking back I marvel at my father's patience!
In my mind's eye, I compare today's Christmas tree bulbs with those of the past … which were huge and elongated; the type that when one bulb failed, the entire string went out!
Sis and I always knew what the contents of our stockings would be: an orange, an apple and some walnuts.
On very rare occasions, sometimes these would be accompanied by a candy cane.
She and I each received two gifts of the same categories … simply different in size. I remember that year as the one when my longing for a pocketbook and jewelry box came true. I can (to this day) close my eyes and see that pocketbook … brown in color and made of a combination of leather and suede. (Though it was not the zippered on three sides style I had envisioned, I treasured it for many years.
My second gift was an answer to my prayers … a jewel box of my very own! Though I owned only two items of jewelry to my name, it was the answer to a little girl's prayers!
I believe my very favorite Christmas memory was when our grade school children put on our yearly play depicting the birth of our Creator, which preceded the group singing of Christmas carols. May we forever continue to live in a society that allows us to do this!
Now, in reply to all of you "cookie monsters" who have requested these recipes …
Ginger Cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups molasses
1 cup butter
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 egg whites
Place the sugar and molasses together in your saucepan, then stir over a very low heat until the sugar is completely melted. Add the butter and continue to stir this mixture over a low heat until all of the butter is melted, then remove from heat and cool.
Sift three cups of flour along with the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and salt; then measure just 1/4 cup of flour and set it aside. Add the dry ingredients to the molasses mixture in an alternating fashion with the buttermilk. Continue doing this until you have a soft dough. If needed, you may use some of the reserved flour. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead thoroughly for five minutes, then wrap and chill for 5-8 hours. Roll the dough into a sheet of 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into two-inch rounds, then brush each with a slightly beaten egg white, then sprinkle each with just a pinch of sugar. Place the cookies 1inch apart on your buttered baking sheets, then bake for just 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Yields about 48 cookies.
Timely Trivia: Have you ever wondered what would have happened had three wise women visited the Baby Jesus? They would have asked directions, gotten there on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole and brought practical gifts.
Were I to be asked to be granted one wish for Christmas, it would be summed up very nicely in the following prayer by Madeline Morse:
"Let Christmas not become a thing merely of merchant's trafficking, of tinsel, bell and holly wreath and surface pleasure, but beneath the childish glamour let us find: nourishment for soul and mind. Let us follow kinder ways through our teeming human maze and help the age of peace to come from a dreamer's martyrdom."
Creamed Caramels
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon chocolate
2 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and butter in a saucepan. Stir this mixture on the burner until it boils to a clear, thick consistency. Stir the evaporated milk in gradually so as not to cause the boiling to cease. Now, stir constantly until the mixture reaches a temperature of 248 degrees or until the firm ball stage. Now, add the extract and immediately pour the mixture into your greased pan. Once it has firmly set, then cut into squares and wrap in waxed paper.
Why not be creative for Christmas? Write a poem for a loved one. Roll it up like a scroll, then fasten it with a lovely ribbon!
**There was a religious man who enjoyed hiking up in the mountains at Christmas time because it made him feel closer to God. Unfortunately, when he was headed to his favorite area to meditate, he happened to stumble and fall down the slope. Upon examining himself, he was grateful to find he had not suffered any serious injuries … just a few bruises here and there. But, just a short way away, he spied a bear watching him. He immediately started praying, please God … let that be a Christian bear, please let that be a Christian bear! Then, he heard the bear say, "Thank you Lord, for the bounty you have provided me today!"