The kitchen smells heavenly. I have spent the day making broccoli casserole, stuffing and cranberry relish. Yum! tomorrow…Christmas cookies.
The family has started to assemble. Jessica and Maggie arrived yesterday. Jessica (my 14 year old granddaughter) just noticed that there was an extra stocking hanging in the dining room. The reason? Because decorations need to be symmetrical of course! Jessica, ever on the lookout for ways to help, promptly said “if you need to FILL that stocking, I’d be willing to ‘Take One for the Team’!”. So generous of her!
My daughter and hubby arrived this afternoon and my son arrives tomorrow after work. All my chicks will be together and all is right with the world.
Today I made my daughter and husband’s favorite Christmas cookies. I started at 11 am and finished at 6:30 pm….250 cookies later. Exhausting.
Again, I tried a batch using Jules Gluten-free flour. I found that I had to add about a cup more flour to achieve the correct consistency for kneading the dough and rolling it into logs. The results are very good. I like them almost as well as the originals. They are drier and a bit less buttery tasting – but still excellent.
These cookies are a bear to make – but worth the effort once a year.
MMMmmmmmm…… I have just spent my favorite “week before Christmas” day. Making Pineapple-Date Christmas Pudding. Yummy. My “kids” still act like I am trying to poison them when I make this. Still – there is nothing that says Christmas more to me than the cinnamon-nutmeg smell of puddings steaming on the stove.
Such a satisfying day. One pudding on the table cooling, one more steaming in the dutch oven, and two more small ones waiting to be steamed.
I even experimented and used Jules Gluten Free Flour to make a gluten free version. It came out perfectly, and I can’t tell the difference in taste. If you decide to try out my recipe, be sure to use Jules flour. Other gluten free flours need to have xanthum gum added, and I would have no idea how much.
I was enjoying the fruits of my labor while watching NCIS.They played a lovely song at the end of the show. Research lead me to this article:
Song Of Kindness Resonates With RIS Singers which talks about the song “Nothing More”
“…the Connecticut-based indie rock band Alternate Routes…. led by founding band members Tim Warren and Eric Donnelly… was at the school for a run-through of their original song, “Nothing More,” which they will perform with the students at the January winter concerts. Half of the proceeds from the sales of “Nothing More” on iTunes support the Newtown Kindness projects.
So – make yourself some Christmas pudding and get onto iTunes. You will be glad you did!
Here is the pudding recipe:
A dear friend just shared some childhood memories with me, and it brought back some very happy times in my childhood, with my cousin Jim. He and I were raised together, and are more like fraternal twins than cousins. I am superior of course, because I am three whole months older than he is. Now that it is no longer a mark of superiority, he never lets me forget it!
My wonderful Irish grandparents raised me after the death of my parents when I was 2 years old. My grandfather was a caretaker on a large estate about 2 hours north of NYC. It was a magical place for two kids to grow up. One Christmas, Santa brought us a brand new flexible flyer. It was HUGE. Big enough for Jim and I to use together. One snowy day, we went to the looooong sloping hill behind the “big house” with our sled for the maiden voyage of our new “flying machine”. We started down and hit a rock, tipping the sled and falling off. We laid in the snow, laughing uproariously, completely oblivious to the fact that the flying sled was doing what it was born to do…..continuing to fly down the hill. That would have been fine – except that at the bottom of the hill was a lake. We finally came to our senses and ran after the sled. But too late. With weight on it, sleds usually came to rest at the flat ground next to the lake. Without any weight – it just continued right out onto the ice…the very thin ice.
Fortunately, we were bright enough NOT to go after it. My grandfather tried many ploys to retrieve it, but to no avail. We had to give it up to the depths of the lake. Oh well. We each got smaller sleds after that. I think the grown ups figured we got into less trouble steering our own sleds than collaborating! Here are some pictures of the estate. It is no longer a private residence. It has been turned into an ashram. And in a strange twist, it is called Ananda. Just one letter short of where I spent most of my professional career!
If you click through the various categories on this website, you might see other pictures of the estate. Ananda Ashram
The original guest house burned many years ago and there is now a replacement. But, the “big house” is the same. The boathouse next to the lake also remains exactly as I remember it. The part of the estate where we lived has been sold off. But most of my happy memories involve the hill behind the big house, the lake, the boathouse and the walking paths around the lake. I have been unable to find a picture of it – but at the end of the lake was a small waterfall and a brook where Jim and I spent hours recreating TV shows such as “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle”. I LOVED that show and now I realize it was because the woman was strong and was the main character. She did not dither around like most of the stupid acting 1950s women I was used to seeing on TV or reading about it fiction books. She was a refreshing change. And more closely resembled my strong minded grandmother who ruled the family.
Here are some pictures.
The “Big House”
View up the sledding hill from the lake. The big house is on the left, boathouse to the right. That is the hill where we lost our sled
The bridge at the end of the big sledding hill. It lead to an island that was always beautifully maintained by my grandfather – but evidently has been allowed to go wild now.