Saturday, December 30, 2006

A New Year's Tradition

The taper candle on the right is older than my daughter. Now I know that is not a common age for a candle, but this one is the last bayberry candle that my grandmother gave me in 1972.

The votive candle on the left is going to be part of a very important ritual that we do every year on New Year's Eve.

My grandmother used to give me a bayberry candle to burn on New Year's Eve. You have to burn the candle continuously from when you light it on New Year's Eve at sunset until it burns itself out.

The candle came with the following poem:

A bayberry candle
When burned to the socket
Brings joy to the house
And gold to the pocket

We can't say we'ver ever gotten all that much "gold", but it is a fun tradition to continue. Now days its hard to get bayberry candles, but I maintain its worth the effort for this.

And of course there is the need for ham, greens, black eyed peas and grits for the New Year's Day dinner......

Happy New Year 'yall!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Doggie Biscuits

and just why should the humans in the house be the only ones that get goodies at Christmas?

We think that the dogs in the house should get a treat too!

This is a really simple recipe, fun to do and our dog (and our daughter's dog too) just loves them.

A single recipe makes 16 LARGE dog bone shaped biscuits (we have big dogs!), and its totally safe for small children too, being all "normal" pantry staples (no bone meal, etc.)

Why not bake up a batch for your dog?

Dog Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour (I use a combination of whole wheat flour, white flour, corn meal and oatmeal -- as long as it totals this amount -- I've even ground up rice to make flour for these)
1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
6 Tbls oleo (Crisco is better, peanut butter is better still!)
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1/2 to 2/3 cup water

Mix all the ingredients to form a stiff dough (start with 1/2 cup water, add whatever you need to make the dough come together)

Roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired size pieces (dog bone shaped cookie cutters are available, but if you don't have one, and cookie cutter that makes the right size for your dog will work)

Place biscuits on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cool completely, store in a dry place.

NOTE: you can also add shredded carrots and parsley flakes to this and use a beef or chicken flavored broth instead of water for the liquid

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fallen Angels -- OR -- the perils of baking at over 6000 feet

Its sad but true.....its a fallen angel.....

Now I have to tell you that when it came out of the oven, it was standing tall and proud, way over the top of the pan ..... but alas, it was not to be

This little disaster was really quite funny too as we could watch it "roll" out of the pan like a ball of jello running downhill

It set off a chorus of "what did I do wrong?" to which I went down the whole check list of dos and don'ts for angel food cake:

grease free bowl -- check
grease free beaters -- check
grease free spatulas -- check
grease free pan -- check
oven at listed temperature -- check
using the high altitude instruction on the package -- check

This is the fifth time since we've lived here that I have tried to make an angel food cake. I've tried from scratch (that was a whole other disaster, best not described!); and from a box, and I have now concluded that at this altitude (as I said, over 6000 feet above sea level) that it just isn't going to happen......{sigh, whimper!}

I can report tho', that it tasted really good as we ate it anyway!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oh Fudge!

My dad was always the fudge maker when I was a kid. Its one of the few things I remember him cooking.

I also remember that it ALWAYS got poured in a specific pan to cool.

A few years ago, he gave me the pan. I guess its one of the perks of being the oldest child, but I admit I accepted it with mixed feelings -- its not always easy feeling like the mantle of being the oldest generation is being passed to you.

Anyway, I don't always make my dad's recipe for the original fudge, but ever since I've had it, this is the pan the fudge gets poured into.

So, for today's recipe, I give you 3 different recipes for fudge, 2 of which came from my dad. You can try them all!

Gpa's Original Fudge

4 cups sugar
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
3 Tbls unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbls butter

In a heavy sauce pan, combine sugar, milk and cocoa powder.
Bring to a boil and cook to soft ball stage (234 degrees), stirring constantly
Add the butter to the pan and boil hard for 1 minute
Remove from heat, beat in vanilla and continue to beat until candy starts to set
Spread candy in pan and let cool
Cut into small squares and store in a dry place

NOTE: dad also did this as vanilla fudge (just leave out the cocoa), and peanut butter (add the peanut butter with the butter)

Gpa's Quick Fudge

2 packages (6 ounce each) chocolate chips (dad likes milk chocolate, I prefer dark)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1 1/2 Tbls vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In the top of a double boiler melt the chocolate chips.
When melted add the milk and blend completely.
Remove from heat, beat in vanilla
Fold in nuts and pour into pan, chill for 2 hoursl
When cool, cut into squares and store in a dry place

Marshmallow Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 ounces semi sweet chocolate (baking squares or chips)
7 ounces marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, butter and milk in a heavy pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly
Continue stirring and simmering until mixture reaches 234 degrees (soft ball stage)
Remove from heat, stir in chocolate and stir until melted
Add vanilla and marshmallow creme, mix until smooth
Pour into pan, cool
Cut into squares and store in a dry place

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I know, I've been remiss about posting here the past week. I've been busy getting ready for Christmas, etc., etc., and well, I just haven't gotten here!

Before I posted the recipe for the Cottage Cheese Cookies a bit ago, I made a call to my mother because I was confused.

Back when we were doing all this lovely baking, I remembered the Cottage Cheese Cookies, but I also remembered this recipe, which involves frosting, and I had the two combined in my mind....just shows you what time does to the brain!!

Anyway, it turned out that I didn't even have a copy of this recipe, so my mother obligingly copied it (and several others, to be discussed later) and mailed it to me. Yeah mom!

Anyway, this is a Swedish recipe that translates (loosely) to "Cream Wafers", and since it has egg yolks and heavy cream, you might as well go "whole hog" and use butter in them too!

Pariserwafier (Cream Wafers)

For the Wafers:
1 cup soft butter or oleo
1/3 cup cream (35% butterfat) -- don't skimp!
2 cups flour
granulated sugar for 'coating'

For the Filling:
1/4 cup soft butter or oleo
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
red and green food color

To make wafers:
Mix 1 cup butter, the cream and the flour until well blended.
Chill for 30 to 60 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out 1/3 of the dough 1/8 inch thick on floured board (keep the rest of the dough refridgerated as you work with each section).
Cut rounds of 1 1/2 inches (or smaller!)
Coat each round in granulated sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet, prick tops with a fork.
Bake for 7 to 9 minutes -- don't overbrown.
Cool and fill.

To make filling:
Beat together 1/4 cup butter, the sifted powdered sugar, the egg yolk and the vanilla until smooth.
Divide filling in half and color each half (one red, one green)
Place a small amount of filling on half of the wafers and top with the other half.

This recipe makes about 5 dozen 1 1/2 inch round "sandwich" cookies.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Mom's Fruit Cake

No, I didn't say mom IS a fruit cake! For the most part, I don't like fruit cake. There's just something wrong about eating the peel of the fruit to me (you know, candied orange peel and all that).

This fruit cake, however is full of wonderful stuff. Its really easy to make (once you get through papering the pans). In fact, the only down side to it is the cost of the ingredients. But just once in your life you should taste really good fruit cake, and this is it!

Note: Read through the entire recipe before beginning. This works best if the ingredients have be allowed to stand at room temperature for an hour before you start.

Added note:  this recipe makes a lot of fruit cake --- one large loaf and 5 small ones --- the adjustments to make half a recipe are included below in red

1 1/2 (3/4) pounds pitted dates
1 (1/2) pound candied pineapple
1 (1/2) pound whole candied cherries (some for garnish)
2 (1)cups sifted flour
2 (1) tsp baking powder
1/2 (1/4) tsp salt
4 (2) eggs (1 (1/2) cup egg substitute)
1 (1/2) cup sugar
2 (1) pounds pecan halves (some for garnish)
white corn syrup

Use two 9 inch by 5 inch by 3 inch loaf pans OR two 9 inch spring form pans OR one of each size OR four small loaf pans.

Grease pans well with butter or shortening, line bottoms and sides with brown paper (or parchment paper) cut to fit, then grease the paper.

Set oven to 275 degrees

Cut the dates and pineapple into coarse pieces.

In a large bowl (I use a BIG stainless steel one), mix dates, pineapple and cherries (reserve a few cherries for garnish).

Sift salt, baking powder and flour together. Sift flour mixture onto fruit mixture.

Using your hands, mix flour mixture into fruit to coat each piece of fruit with the flour.

Beat eggs until frothy. Gradually beat in the sugar until well mixed.

Add eggs to fruit mixture, mix well with large spoon (I use a wood one).

Add nuts (reserve a few for garnish) and mix until nuts are evenly distributed and coated with batter.

Pack mixture into pans, press it down firmly to make sure there are no empty spaces.

Decorate the tops with cherries and pecan halves.

Bake: loaf pan for 1 1/2 hours, springform for 1 1/4 hours, little loaves for 1 hour. Tops of cakes, where batter is visible should look dry but not be brown. If you aren't sure its done, give it a little more time, a little over baking will not hurt.

Remove from oven and let cool on rake for about 5 minutes. Turn out of pans and remove the paper.

Turn loaves right side up and brush with corn syrup to glaze. Cool completely.

To store, wrap loosely in foil and store airtight in a cool place. Stored this way, the cakes will last several weeks. If well wrapped and frozen they will keep indefinitely.

Have fun! Remember, fruit cake is a Christmas tradition, but you won't want to throw this one.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cottage Cheese Sandwich Cookies

I can just see all of you know thinking, "cottage cheese? in cookies?"

Consider this idea -- cream cheese is sort of the same thing, only firmer and all in one block!

And so, keep an open mind and give these a try, I promise you'll be glad you did.

Cottage Cheese Sandwich Cookies

2 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup oleo/butter (Crisco sticks)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup thick preserves (flavor of your choice)
powdered sugar for "dusting"

Put cottage cheese through a sieve.

Cream oleo and cheese together.

Mix flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture a little at a time, mixing thoroughly.

Roll dough out (use a lightly floured surface) to 1/4 inch thick.

Cut into 2 inch rounds. Place half of the rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet at least 1/2 inch apart. Put 1/2 tsp of preserves in the center of each cookie. Cover with additional cookie rounds and seal the edges with your fingers or a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove to racks, sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.

Makes 4 dozen.

NOTE: these are even prettier if the top rounds have a smaller opening cut in the center to let the preserves show through. If you do them this way there will probably be enough dough to make a few extras.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


These little gems are wonderful. There's only one really important thing to note before you start mixing.....there doesn't seem to be any sort of substitution for anything that is satisfactory, so just know these are the "high test" stuff, real butter, high fat cream cheese. But the are amazing on the tongue.

These are a 2 day do---mix up the dough the night before and do the baking the next day.


1 cup butter (2 sticks)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbls cinnamon

Day one:
Cream butter, cream cheese and salt until smooth and light. Mix in flour.

Shape the dough into 14 balls. Cover and chill overnight.

Day two:
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix nuts, sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball out into a 6 inch circle. Cut the circle into quarters.

Drop a teaspoon full of the nut mixture on each quarter circle. Pinch edges together and form into cresents on ungreased cookie sheets (parchment paper works great).

Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gma's Stocking Cookies

Continuing on with some of my mom's classic Christmas cookie recipes.

I remember making these at the same time we made the Candy Cane ones, since the whole process was like playing with clay.

This is another of those recipes that doubles nicely.

Christmas Stockings

1 cup shortening
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almond
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red or green food color (or both)
2 1/4 cups flour
candied cherries, quartered
1/4 cup nut pieces
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream shortening, sugar, vanilla and almond. If you are doing only one color socks, mix in food color here too.

Blend in flour and salt.

If you want 2 color socks, divide dough in half and mix each food color into half of the dough.

Chill the dough for 1 hour.

To make cookies: use 1 tbls of dough and pat out into a rectangle about 3 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Down the center of the dough place cherries or nuts or chocolate chips. Roll dough into log shape.

Place cookies on ungreased pan and shape into sock shape.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on racks.

If desired, frost tops and toes with Easy Icing (see gingerbread post for recipe).

Makes about 3 dozen.