Now comes the final count-down one week before Christmas week! One week to get the house spotless; one week to finish buying presents and getting them wrapped; one week to make candy and bake cookies; one week to get out those Christmas cards you forgot to send last week; one week to finish all the decorating of the house that you wanted for Christmas Day; one week to find the presents that you bought early and hid. Isn't Christmas fun?
If you stood out in the rain to watch the Christmas parades this year, bless you for supporting the ones marching. None of us are made of sugar and none of us are Lot's wife, so we won't melt in the rain. Of course, many more wanted to be watching but the weather didn't cure colds or flu so it was for health that some stayed inside. The older I get, the more that "stay inside" is what I have to do!
My rosemary plant from the garden is still alive and green. That, in itself, is a Christmas miracle! I wanted to get a small live tree for my kitchen tree this year so that it could be planted in the yard. I got two a very small blue spruce and one a little taller that I thought was also a potted fir tree. After I got it home, I discovered that what I thought was the root ball was a container to hold the cut tree. I was upset but I can't blame the tree! So, it will be decorated and have real candles on it for Christmas Eve.
When we were small, the Christmas tree never appeared until Christmas Eve, when Santa brought it with our presents. That was the old German custom. It was when Mom convinced everyone it would be less trouble if the tree was up before Christmas that we really started enjoying it more. Then we got to go with Dad to cut down a tree, always one on our farm, so it wasn't the perfect shaped tree that most folks have today, but we got to help trim it and we thought it was the most beautiful tree we had ever seen every year! Our presents, too, often were from the farm such as the year each of us kids got a baby pig. Of course the pigs went back to the barn and later in the year we enjoyed them as sausage. The memories you make with your little ones will be remembered all their lives, but the toys from a year ago have been forgotten. Christmas should be more than what one gets as presents. The Christmas season lasts for twelve days, from Christmas Day until the Epiphany, Jan. 6, also known as "Little Christmas." Many folks, Mom included, took down the tree on New Year's Day, but now I celebrate the entire season and the decorations don't come down until then. Of course, this year I am slow in getting them up, so I need the extra time to enjoy them!
Enjoy this season and remember those less fortunate in any way you can. Keep the ones who protect us always in your prayers. Remember, this is a HAPPY season, and do all you can to keep it that way in your home and community and count your blessings.
PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
Two-thirds cup softened butter
One (1 lb.) box confectioners' sugar, sifted
One and one-third cup peanut butter
Blend all ingredients well and knead several times. Roll into balls and let dry 30 minutes to 1 hour before dipping into chocolate.
CREAM CHEESE MINTS
Three oz. cream cheese at room temperature
Two-and-one-half to three cups sifted confectioners' sugar
One-fourth teaspoon flavoring
Food color to match flavor
Mix cream cheese and sugar thoroughly, then add color and flavor. Press into molds that have been dusted with granulated or 10x sugar.
Two quarts apple cider
Two cups orange juice
Two cups pineapple juice
One-half cup lemon juice
12 whole cloves
Four cinnamon sticks
Orange slices studded with additional whole cloves
Bring first seven ingredients to a boil in a large pan. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. Pour into a ceramic punch bowl or other container that is safe for hot liquids. Float orange slices in bowl. Serve warm.
CHERRY CHRISTMAS PUNCH
Three small packages cherry gelatin
Two to three cups sugar
Six cups boiling water
One can (46-oz.) unsweetened pineapple juice
One (12-oz.) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
One (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
One gallon cold water
Four liters ginger ale
Dissolve gelatin and sugar in boiling water. Add pineapple juice, the concentrates and cold water and mix well. Freeze in two containers that will release the mixture easily like the ones you get in a deli. Before serving, add two liters ginger ale to each frozen mixture (in a punch bowl) and mix well. You may need to use a long knife to aid in separating the frozen punch. Stir until it is slushy.
One-third cup soft shortening
One-third cup sugar
Two-thirds cup honey
One-teaspoon lemon extract
Two-and-three-fourths cups sifted flour
One teaspoon soda
One teaspoon salt
Mix together the first five ingredients. Sift dry ingredients together and add. Chill dough. Roll out on a floured surface to one-fourth-inch thick and cut out. Bake on lightly greased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool. Ice and decorate.
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES
One cup soft butter
One-half cup sifted confectioners' sugar
One teaspoon vanilla
Two-and-one-fourth cups sifted all-purpose flour
One-fourth teaspoon salt
Three-fourths cup finely chopped nuts
Mix thoroughly the butter, sugar and flavoring. Sift together the flour and salt. Add to the creamed mixture. Stir in the nuts. Chill dough. Make into one-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake until set, but not brown 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees. While still warm, roll in additional confectioners' sugar. Cool, then roll in sugar again.
LEMON AND COCONUT BALLS
One cup butter, softened
One-half cup powdered sugar, sifted
One teaspoon coconut extract
One teaspoon vanilla extract
Two-and-one-fourth cups all-purpose flour
One-and-one-half tablespoons lemon zest
One-fourth teaspoon alt
One cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted
One-and-one-half cups powdered sugar for coating
Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add one-half cup powdered sugar and extracts, beating well. Add flour, lemon zest and salt, beating until combined. Stir in coconut. Cover and chill dough 30 minutes. Shape dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degree for 15-20 minutes or until golden on the bottom but pale on top. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Place the 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a bowl and roll warm cookies in it to coat well. Cool cookies completely on wire racks. Roll cooled cookies in powdered sugar again, coating well.
Contact Patty Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org