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Archive for December, 2007

I can’t forget this!

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Originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees

Long ago Christmas was celebrate quite differently than it is today. Families held on close to each other. Folks spent time together cooking and crafting together, eating and laughing. Fond memories of my grandmother bring me back to such a time.

My grandmother, who lived to be 96 years old, had 13 children and she provided to them the best life that she could. They are not rich by all means and in fact times were very difficult for her to put food on her table. My grandfather was disabled, and could no longer work. So she made a meager living doing housework and nanny work to the town’s beloved doctor. My gram still worked into her 70’s as a housekeeper, and did laundry for this family. She never had much, but she always made the holidays special for her children, grandchildren and her one-hundred-and-something great grandchildren. Christmas to her meant family. A time to gather and enjoy life’s small bounties. Each year she made magic out of nothing. She baked homemade cookies and decorated her shiny aluminum tree. As she grew older she continued to live in our home. where my dad had created her a small apartment in the back of our home. She would either make of buy gifts for everyone on her list.

Every Christmas she would create her “Christmas Bags”, they were hand sewn from tulle either in red or green, with a drawstring top. They lovely treasures contained homemade bits of goodness. An orange, an apple, some popcorn, and nuts; a candy cane and peach blossom candy that always stuck to your teeth. Sometime she would make several dozen of the bags to pass out to everyone who came to visit on Christmas Eve. These bags made many memories in my family. Since she passed away in 1989, I had to carry on the tradition. So several years ago I pimped up the bags a bit and refashioned them. Now my family enjoys the magic of these bags on Christmas Eve. For weeks, I have been planning their contents, something special inside each one. Making memories for the new generations. My most special memories came from the kindness of my grandmother heart, not only on Christmas, but on everyday that she lived. I miss you grandma you are always in my heat! I will carry on your tradition, until it passes to the next generation.

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So happy Monday! Only a week before Christmas and we already have more snow than last year. We were hit again with a tremendous Nor’easter Snow storm. Another 14 inches, yesterday into this morning. The photo is outside from where my office is located. It looks and feels like a frozen tundra today. Complete with temps in the teen’s and wind chills way below zero! Brrrrrrrr…….

The snow is indeed quite beautiful, but when it comes in such masses, one begins to feel cold and desolate. Hibernation soon sets in. Winter here is not in weeks, but 5 months here. We will not see the grass again till late April or into May. Days are short and night is long and dark. I find myself already dreamin’ of spring and summer. I’ll get over it. It odes make for a great Christmas backdrop.

This week I will be busy cooking and creating new items for our annual Christmas Eve get-together at my mom’s. So far I have made some delicious Oreo-Cheesecake Truffles. I do have to finish dipping them in white chocolate tonight. Then I’ll start to tackle the Cream-cheese Cutout Cookies I am known for. Then perhaps I’ll craft a Peppermint/white chocolate cheesecake. I know…I’m bad, but what else is there to do when you live in the Tundra? Well almost.

The Holiday’s have sure crept up on me this year.I have made many new friends this year across the globe! Cyndi and Danilo (and two cats Opus & Roscoe) in Italy and Riana and family in France. The best of the Blog World. I hope the holiday season finds them with plenty of family and friends around. I house full of homemade goodies and much love in their lives. Wherever you are I wish you peace and happiness!. I am so grateful for these friends and their gifts they have given us this year. Cyndi and Danilo for inviting us into their hearts and their home in Italy and to Riana for sending her love to us in a care package from France. Thank you all so much for bringing such new joy into my life this year! Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Christmas Past

As a child, I remember Christmas being such a magical time. A time for magical things to happen. Everyone was happy and excited about the days prior to Christmas. My mother and grandmother would prepare for the day, weeks in advance. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, making homemade gifts, and sending cards to friends and family. Folks actually took the time to connect with one an other. In my 45 years n earth a lot has changed. The Holidays have become a commercial nightmare filled with “stuff” in stead of memories. Kids expect more and more gifts. More money…bigger and better items. The magic has been lost in this crazy shuffle of commercialism.

Let me go back to a more simple time…..back to the the late 60’s early 70’s in my life. One Christmas all I wanted was a vanity. You know, one with a bench and a mirror. My cousin had one that was gold toned with a padded bench and it was beautiful. Fit for a princess I thought! I wanted one. In fact it was the only thing I asked Santa for that year. I wanted the same one as my cousin, so I could sit in front of the mirror like every other young girl and play dress up with jewelry and makeup and pretend that I was a “movie star” in my dressing room. The weeks before Christmas flew by, and on Christmas, crowds of family flocked to our home to visit my grand mother who lived with us. My mother carried out trays of holiday sweets, breads, and candies she had made. Guests came and went for the evening, and all I could imagine was waking up the next morning to my new vanity.

That night I laid in my bed dreaming about my vanity, how special it would be. When I finally got to sleep, my brother came in to wake me up, so we could go get my mother and father up to see what Santa had brought to us. We went ran into the living room and what I saw that morning still remains in my heart today. I no longer have this gift, but the memory is still as fresh as it was that morning. A vanity….not a golden one, but a handmade one that my father had created in his workshop downstairs. It had no mirror, just plain and simple wood with a padded bench. My father had worked on this project for weeks. At the time I was a bit disappointed, but when I found out that Santa had asked my Dad to make this for me, I knew it was special. My dad was so proud of his gift. My brief moment of disappointment soon vanished as I sat down on the padded bench. I had received my vanity that Christmas. It was more special to me than that a golden one that I had wanted. Santa had brought me what i wanted.

The vanity is long gone, but he memory is still as strong as that Christmas morning. I wish I still had my dad to share this memory with. Little did he know that would be the most special Christmas gift, I have ever received.

By the way…..the Sugar Daddy photo….do you remember ever getting a GIANT Sugar Daddy for Christmas? I do!!!!

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Santa Baby

“Santa Baby”

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, For me.

I’ve been an awful good girl,
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, 54 convertible too, Light blue.

I’ll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Think of all the fun I’ve missed,
Think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed,
Next year I could be oh, so good,
If you’d check off my Christmas list,
Boo doo bee doo. [background]

Santa honey, I wanna yacht,
And really that’s not a lot,
I’ve been an angel all year,
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa cutie, there’s one thing that I really need, The deed.
To a plex of my hand,
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, fill my stocking with a rolex, And checks.
Sign your ‘X’ on the line,
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany’s,
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see if you believe in me,
Boo doo bee doo. [background]

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, A ring.
I don’t mean on the phone,
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight,
Hurry down the chimney tonight,
Hurry down the chimney tonight

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Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Another great holiday recipe to share!!!!! I am known as the “Queen of Cheesecake” If it can be made I will create it. I am a connoisseur of cheesecake, in fact I have made and sold these to friends, and usually whenever I am asked to bring a food item to a party it is usually cheesecake. Enjoy this recipe!

Crust:
20 chocolate wafer cookies
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground coffee beans
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Filling:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature

Glaze:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon light or dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup crushed candy canes (see Cooks Note)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil.

For the crust: Process the chocolate wafers in a food processor with the butter, sugar, coffee, and salt until fine. Evenly press the crust into the prepared dish covering the bottom completely. Bake until the crust sets, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl; heat at 75 percent power until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir, and continue to microwave until completely melted, up to 2 minutes more. (Alternatively put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)

Blend the cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream together in the food processor until smooth. Scrape down the sides, as needed. Add the eggs and pulse until just incorporated. With the food processor running, pour the chocolate into the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

Pour the filling evenly over the crust. Bake until filling puffs slightly around the edges, but is still a bit wobbly in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

For the Glaze: Put the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in microwave safe bowl. Heat glaze in the microwave at 75 percent power until melted, about 2 minutes. Stir the ingredients together until smooth; add the sour cream. Spread glaze evenly over the warm cake and scatter the crushed candy canes over top. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.

Cut into small bars or squares. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Store cookies covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Cook’s Note: To crush the candy canes, remove wrappers and place in a resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to roll and break the candy up into small pieces, about 1/4 inch or so.
This recipe is from the FoodNetwork.

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Every Christmas my family insists on me making these cookies. I have spoiled them incessantly!!! I found this recipe years ago and have created these cookies for our Christmas Eve tradition for over 20 years. In fact I have to make a 4 batches of dough to feed everyone. These cookies will keep for a week or two if kept in a cool location. Not a problem here in Maine. Although I haven’t made them yet this year…..I hope to do some baking by next weekend. Perhaps my niece Amy (the other pastry chef) or Nichole *hint, hint* would be willing to take on the responsibility this year. So here is my favorite recipe! Enjoy……

1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup colored sugar

BEAT cream cheese and butter in large bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Add granulated sugar and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour, beating well after each addition; cover. Refrigerate several hours or until chilled.
PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters. Sprinkle cutouts with colored sugar. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets.
BAKE 12 to 15 min. or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

After they are cooled I usually frost these delights with either a buttercream or cream cheese frosting!   🙂

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