Traditions

I suppose that every family has it’s traditions around the food served at this time of year. And of course I have them too, although the older I get, the less important some of them seem. But there are certain foods which are essential, like these.

I realize that this does not look especially festive, but I make this every Christmas, and only at Christmas. I don’t put any decorations on it, so it doesn’t look like much,but it is really quite delicious. And here is the recipe I use.

This recipe appeared in the St. Louis Globe Democrat, just a tiny item, not even a featured story. But my mom thought that it sounded tasty, so she made it for Christmas one year and I loved it. The newspaper stopped publication in 1986, so this recipe probably dates from the late 70’s or early 80’s when I was still going back to St. Louis for Christmas. I cut the recipe out of the newspaper, took it home and promptly lost it. So I sent a letter to the food editor, she dug this up from the back issues, sent it to me, and I have been making it ever since.

Krakowska from Piekutowski’s is another important ingredient for a proper Christmas feast. I have been eating this for at least 60 years (although I don’t understand how this is even possible, as I am surely not that old). The owners were friends of my grandparents, and the store is still in the same location as it was then (which puts it in a very bad neighborhood). The Polish Pope himself said that this was the best Krakowska outside of the stuff from Krakow, which is high praise indeed.

Also one must do something to attract luck in the coming year, so at the end of the holiday season, one must eat some black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day. This seems to especially bring luck to farmers of black-eyed peas, but no matter (really, they don’t taste like anything special). But it’s part of the ritual of the season, so I do this every year (maybe this is the year I win the lottery). ūüėČ

Friends

Everyone needs friends. It’s nice to have someone sympathetic to chat with, or just chill with and enjoy their company. Pteri is no exception.

Brontosaurus are always going on about how delicious the vegetarian lifestyle is and how everyone should adopt this.

And this friend couldn’t agree more, yes plants are delicious. (Pteri has heard this all before.)

T-rex likes to go on about the joys of being a carnivore and great places to eat when not whining about the problems of having very short arms (although it means you never have to pick up a check). It’s interesting for a bit, still it is pleasant to be able to hang with one’s fellow dinos, whatever the topic.

But for real enjoyment it is great to hang out with the locals, wear silly hats, and send out a Christmas wish to all the distant friends.

Oh deer

We are currently in the season for outdoor decorations, and one of the more popular choices for decorating is deer.¬† ¬†Technically, I suppose that people are thinking ‘reindeer’, with sort of North Pole connotations.¬† ¬†But it’s easier to go with generic deer as a sign of the season.

If you are wanting to have outdoor lights anyway, why not a lighted deer?

This family of log deer are certainly cute and crafty, as well as being environmentally friendly.

Hey, wait a minute.¬† ¬†That’s not even a deer, it’s just a dog with an antler tied to his head (if you want to be a Grinch about it).

Well now we’re getting completely ridiculous, besides being rather abstract.¬† ¬†Nothing says festive like Rudolph the red-nosed car.¬† ¬†Really?

This is more like it, the real thing (although you can tell from the state of his antlers that I took this picture in the spring).   After spending the summer wherever they disappear off to, the local deer are back in the neighborhood.   And making a festive statement just by being themselves.

Cooking class

I admit that I love anything that has lots of sugar and butter in the recipe (although it does not necessarily love me back).¬† One of my friends has taken a lot of classes at a local cooking school, and she talked about how much fun this was.¬† So I decided I might give this a go, especially as the class used my favored ingredients.¬† And I found out how simple it is to make toffee, particularly if someone else does all the prep work.¬† ūüėČ

They had toasted and chopped 10 1/2 ounces of almonds and separated it into chunky bits and dust.   We put 8 ounces of butter, 8 ounces of sugar, 3 ounces of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a pan and took it over to the induction stove top.

Here it is boiling merrily away.   Then we put in a candy thermometer, gave it a stir from time to time, and 25 minutes later it looked like this.

It is boiling hot at this point, so we carefully tipped in the large bits of almond (saving the fine particles for topping), and spread it out on a half sheet pan.   Then we sprinkled 7 ounces of chocolate chips over the top.   As it was boiling hot, the chips quickly melted and we slathered them over the top and added a fine almond dust over everything.

It doesn’t really look very appetizing at this point, in fact it looks rather like a large cow pie (although it smells much better).

Now it looks delicious!   As there were several groups of people in the class, we made different flavors of toffee and got to take home some of each.   So I have white chocolate raisin toffee, dark chocolate coconut toffee, dark chocolate and milk chocolate toffees.  Now all I have to do is package this up for friends and avoid eating all of this myself.