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Christmas is: Opening the Recipe Box

Christmas cookies coffee decorations vintageGloria Wilson’s Hamburger Casserole, Barb & Dwight’s Slitherdown, Great-Great-Granny’s Chili Sauce, Janny Pinksen’s Christmas Fruitcake….

This is how the majority of my recipes in my recipe box are organized. Yes, I still have a recipe box. No, I don’t still have a rotary phone.

When I grew up every respected mom in the village where I grew up, had a recipe box that was well-loved and packed full of their family recipes. Quite often those recipes were closely guarded, not given out, and used as a bartering tool for status at community pot-lucks.  Let’s face it, in a town of 500, you had to use whatever you could for leverage. Often it was a pickle recipe, or some sort of exotic flavoured square. Pineapple for instance was a rarity, and often a favourite. Flaked coconut was an extravagance.

It’s these very recipes that I try to recreate today. It’s my heritage, and I celebrate it. If you have an old recipe box packed with recipes handed down to you by loving friends and relatives, you know what I mean. If you don’t, this is your chance to get in on some  5th & 6th generation Canadian Christmas baking.

Some of our family favourites include;

Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares

Whipped Shortbread with Toblerone

Great-Granny’s Coconut Cherry Balls

recipe box

It’s that time of year when a fun tray of cookies and squares can spark a happy memory for many of us.  Despite a number of years where grief was heavy in my heart during the holidays, being able to recreate recipes from my childhood kept a little spark of Christmas magic alive while I healed.

Now that I have my own home and family, I take my job as Mrs. Claus very seriously, and I hope that every time my kiddo walks through the door from now until the end of December, he still feels some of the magic of the season, even if it comes in small bites from his favourite shortbread.

I can only hope that you feel a little bit of joy serving up some of the recipes that I’m going to share with you this Christmas season.

 

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Christmas is: Sharing

I have a few closely guarded secret recipes that are standards at our house. The, “It wouldn’t be Christmas without these mom”, kind-of-recipes.

Cookies are my thing, and I make a lot of them at Christmas time. I love the way that fancy sugar cookies look added to a tray of down-home-country-girl sweets. The little maraschino cherry balls that my granny used to make melt in our mouths, but by far our favourite cookie recipe is this;

WHIPPED SHORTBREAD WITH TOBLERONE

1 lb butter at room temperature

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup corn starch

3 cups flour

1 tsp vanilla

Large Toblerone bar.

Cream butter on high until light and fluffy. If using a stand mixer, use the whipping attachment for this. 

While butter is being whipped, divide Toblerone into triangles and then divide those triangles into thirds. 

Combine all other ingredients and slowly add to whipped butter, using regular attachment. Be patient when mixing as this dough gets quite crumbly before coming together into a smooth dough. 

Place 1″ spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press a piece of divided Toblerone into each mound of cookie dough, and top with same amount of dough. Feel free to be generous with the chocolate…just sayin’

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Do no overcook. Let cookies cool on tray before moving them to a cooling rack as they are very delicate and crumble before they cool. 

 

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The Cynical Elf

Christmas 2011
Christmas 2011 (Photo credit: jreifegerste)

Part and parcel of being an old-fashioned-I-like-to-digest-my-news-in-print-form-darling is getting the really great advertising inserts that proliferate this time of year.

Quite frankly, they beat the heck out of the recent spree of front page ogre-inspired images  of our mysoginist-drug-adled-personal-black-hole-of-ethics-and-dignity mayor. But I digress….

Today, I brought home the LCBO ‘Give Cheer’ insert. I opened up the 41 page glossy mini-mag with the eyes of cynicism. “Beer & Cookies: Surprisingly Sweet Matches”, seemed like another annoyingly magnificent effort to appeal to the glamping/foodie crowd.

Pul-eaze, I thought as I sipped my bourbon. Beer and cookies? Really?

Spare me the obvious effort to be avant-garde and just give me shortbread and eggnog. Even I, the culinary-Christmas-cook thinks that anything other than butter or chocolate added to shortbread is a little too far-fetched.

I can’t say I was convinced by the beer-cookie pairings. I would likely give it a try if someone put any of them in front of me; Dark Beer and Coffee Toffee Shortbread or Winter Ale and Gingerbread Cookies aren’t likely to be on my top ten must-serve selections this holiday season. But if they’re yours, I’d love an invitation and wouldn’t mind having a swig and a nibble.

What did catch my attention were some of the delicious sounding cocktails like the Winter Spice Sour with Cinnamon syrup and deluxe whiskey. Espresso with Sortilege Maple Cream Whiskey  kind of lit my fire as did the Golden Cider (main ingredients are Goldschlager and Canadian Cider).

I’ll be cheeky and let you know that the ‘Snug Sailor’ kind of made me warm in my girly bits just thinking of getting snug with a sailor, but I think that may be the bourbon talking.  Unfortunately the cocktail does not involve a sailor, cock or tail. It does however involve Crabbies Ginger Beer which I love, love, love, and Sailor Jerry spiced rum.

So, as I flipped through the beautifully presented advertising piece from the LCBO, once again it became apparent that I am not a ‘leading-edge-consumer’.

I am not a trend-setter.  In fact, I think that trend-setters lack the deep-rooted self-confidence and grace that define classic style and taste.

I also happen to like to think I fit into the self-confident-classically-styled-individual category.  On occasion, I also like to think that I fit into a size zero and look like Marilyn Monroe, but that’s usually the bourbon cheering me on.

Although it is rare that I ride the edge of seasonal style, whether it be fashion or food, I do like to know what’s current and trending. Trends are fads, and fads are fun.

Fun, my sweet sugar plums is a big part of what this season of giving and sharing is about.  Heck, you may even find me at home serving up maple cream liquor lattes and shortbread spiked with something nutty….

Happy Holidaying to you. I’ve gotta run and get a bottle of that maple cream whiskey before it’s sold out!