Christmas

A Florida Friday: Enjoying our painted buntings’ return and treasuring Mom’s childhood Christmas decorations

Well, I have been laid low with a nasty cold this past week and haven’t had the energy to do much of anything. So this will be a quick post. First, I’m happy to say that “our” painted buntings have returned from the Carolinas to winter with us. They are elusive little critters, but I catch them pretty regularly coming to the feeder. They always wait for all the other birds to disappear before making their dash to the seeds. Sometimes they try to compete with the cardinals but the latter usually swat them away.  Below is a little video of one of the males. And, second, I’m posting some photos of Mom’s surviving childhood Christmas decorations. They must be from the 1920s and 1930s. Her father used to build a little village out of them every Christmas that went up a ‘mountainside’ to the family Christmas tree in the house’s big bay window. Too bad no photos exist of that scene, but at lease some of the decorations have survived. Mom is enjoying seeing them on display again all these years later. Have a great weekend, all!

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Categories: Christmas, Miscellaneous, Nature | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Merry Christmas!

Eastman Johnson's Christmas Time -- The Blodgett Family, 1864, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Public Domain - Wikipedia)

Eastman Johnson’s Christmas Time — The Blodgett Family, 1864, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Public Domain – Wikipedia).

Well, Christmas is fast approaching—there are cookies that need baking and carols that need singing, so…

Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support this past year and to wish you and your families a very peaceful Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

May 2016 bring new discoveries that excite, entertain, and educate us about the lives of our ancestors whose traditions & values have been passed down to us and remain woven into the fabric of who we are. I’ll leave you with a couple of quick, easy recipes for any last-minute baking. See you in 2016!

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Grandma’s Ice Cream Patties

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg well-beaten
1/8 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup walnuts/candied cherries (cut into quarters/eighths)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly. Blend in egg and vanilla. Mix flour and salt together and add to the creamed mixture, blending well. Measure small spoonfuls of batter (1/2 tsp) onto well-greased baking sheets. (If you use parchment paper, they don’t spread out as much and the edges are more widely browned). Place a piece of walnut/candied cherry in middle of each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (as early as 6 minutes, especially if you are at a low altitude). Yield: 4-5 dozen patties.

Cranberry-Walnut Pie

Mix together:
• One cup of cranberries
• One cup of walnuts
• One-half cup of sugar
Put mixture in a greased pie pan.

Then, mix together:
• One cup flour
• One cup sugar
• One melted stick of butter
• And two eggs
Dump on top of cranberry mix and spread out.

Bake at 325 degrees F. (163 degrees C.) for 50 minutes. Serve with large dollop of whipped cream.

Categories: Christmas, Miscellaneous | 4 Comments

1904: Madame Melba prompts Madame De Ryther to write about puddings

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Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (1861-1931), 1896 (Credit: United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3b11681–Public domain in US)

Well, it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, and food is now the farthest thing from my mind. I’ve cooked and baked enough in the last week to happily sail through the next few months without doing either, but I promised you a series of “Madame De Ryther Mondays” until Christmas… So here is a 1904 article in which she discusses how to make puddings: rice pudding, tapioca pudding, chocolate pudding, and one other whose name is concealed by the Fulton History site’s logo label. Since I honestly can’t bear the thought right now of unwrapping another stick of butter or spooning heaping tablespoonfuls of sugar into anything, I am currently psychologically unable to try any of these recipes out myself. But don’t let that stop you if you have managed to remain “on your kitchen feet,” both mentally & physically, in the aftermath of Thanksgiving ;-).

In her article, professional-singer-turned-food-writer Madame De Ryther opens with a comment made by Madame Melba (1861-1931), an Australia-born, world-renowned opera star, with whom Madame De Ryther was obviously acquainted, their singing careers, perhaps, having brought them together at some point.

Who was Madame Melba?  Per Wikipedia: Dame Nellie Melba GBE (19 May 1861 – 23 February 1931), born Helen Porter Mitchell, was an Australian operatic soprano. She became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century. She was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician. She took the pseudonym “Melba” from Melbourne, her home town. And, yes, “Peach Melba,” “Melba toast,” “Melba garniture,” and “Melba sauce” were all created in her honor by a French chef named Auguste Escoffier. I must admit that I often heard mention of Melba toast and peach Melba while growing up, but it was not until writing this post that I’d heard of Madame Melba (I’m embarrassed to say) and was able to put 2 and 2 together (much like discovering Italian opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini last year, and making the link with Chicken/Turkey Tetrazzini). (Note: Viewers of season 4 (2013) of Downton Abbey would have seen Madame Melba (played by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealand’s famed soprano) perform for Lord and Lady Grantham; I was not a Downton viewer at that time.)

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Australian children’s classic: The Magic Pudding (1918) by Norm Lindsay; Yes, Madame Melba was from a country that most certainly knows a thing or two about pudding! (Credit: Wikipedia – Image in Public Domain in US)

Getting back now to the article, Madame De Ryther reports that Madame Melba had once lamented to her the lack of good puddings in America, and having traveled the world and sampled desserts along the way, she indeed must have known a thing or two about the topic. In 1904, when this article appeared, everyone in America would have heard of Madame Melba, so using Melba’s opinion about America’s lack of good puddings was certainly a clever way for Madame De Ryther to hook her readers.

However, the food writer is not all that excited about replicating European puddings, more specifically English puddings, which she considers to be too heavy by American standards (and if you’re familiar with British cuisine, you know what she means—puddings here in the US are very different; Jello-type pudding comes to mind or rice pudding or tapioca, not hearty, classic fare like sticky toffee pudding, bread & butter pudding, spotted dick, and the like—puddings that I personally like, albeit usually in small doses).

The recipes Madame De Ryther includes here are for much lighter and “daintier” versions that she feels would suit the American palate better than English-style puddings which were designed to “to drive the heavy fog from [English] stomachs,” according to one French chef.

Of course, at this point neither a heavy pudding nor a light one could drive away the heavy Thanksgiving fog in my stomach! But that is neither here nor there. I’m sure Madame De Ryther’s recipes helped her readers “whip up” some divine puddings.  I’ll just wait ’til I’m fully “recovered” to give them a try! 😉

PS: With Christmas fast approaching, for a fun and superbly informative post on English Christmas puddings that has lots of great images, click here. And for a few Madame Melba YouTube videos, scroll down below the article. Have a great day, all!

New York Press, 1904 (exact date unknown) - Credit: FultonHistory dot com

New York Press, 1904 (exact date unknown) – Credit: FultonHistory dot com

Categories: Christmas, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Luisa Tetrazzini, Madame Jule de Ryther, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

100-year-old Christmas greetings

Merry Christmas, all! I stumbled on a few more Christmas cards—these from 1914… exactly 100 years ago! These were sent to my grandmother who was 31 at the time and still single. One from her dear friend Ruth Cheney. The others from senders unknown (to me). The themes? Charles Dickens’ first novel—The Pickwick Papers (published in 1836)—and his novella Cricket on the Hearth (published in 1845). Even in 1914, they were timeless classics. One bonus of finding these cards? My grandmother’s address in 1914: 135 Murray St., Elizabeth, NJ!

Well, back to those Christmas cookies! Have a magical day!

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Zillah Trewin, 1919 (age 36)

Zillah Trewin, 1919 (age 36)

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Categories: Christmas, Elizabeth, Union Co., Holidays & Festivities, New Jersey, Trewin, Vintage cards | 5 Comments

Merry Christmas in vintage cards

Yours truly 50 years ago---looks like I'm vintage now, too!

Yours truly many moons ago—looks like I’m vintage now, too! Ho Ho Ho!

As Christmas approaches,
it’s fun to look back on vintage cards.
These probably date back to the 1920s & 1930s.
I especially like the one that says:
“When Santa comes and Santa goes,
may the things you want be in your hose”!
—Followed by the ominous:
“Now don’t you peek and try to see
The things upon your Christmas tree
‘Cause if you do, old Santa might
Decide to take them back tonight”!

As I’m unlikely to post again before the New Year,
I want to take this moment to wish you all
a very Merry Christmas
and all the joy and magic this holiday season brings!
Enjoy!

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Categories: Christmas, Holidays & Festivities, Vintage cards | 10 Comments

1957 Sunbeam Mixmaster – R. I. P.

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Sunbeam Mixmaster

After five decades of service, my mom’s 1957 Sunbeam Mixmaster stand mixer mixed its last batch of cookies. We reluctantly bid it adieu and sent it off to the appliance graveyard but not before taking some final photos and reminiscing. What fond memories we have of that mixer. Year in and year out, we kids gathered around it as Mom whipped up Christmas cookies and birthday cakes. We were always there on standby to grab hold of the beaters to lick them clean. And, boy, that thing was built to last. It was heavy and very reliable (obviously). And I loved how the dial was labelled. Selecting the right speed was a “no brainer.” The new Sunbeam Mixmaster is nice–but far from the quality of yesteryear. Lots of plastic. And the dial is just a bunch of numbers, so referring to the manual is essential at least until you get the swing of things. I definitely don’t see this one making it to 2069! (Of course, I’m not likely to either, but still…)

Fannie B. Woodruff Brodhead, Baker and Cook Extraordinaire

Fannie B. Woodruff Brodhead, Baker and Cook Extraordinaire

So, in honor of the late 1957 mixer, I am providing a recipe here for our all-time favorite (and supremely easy) Christmas cookie recipe. It belonged to my grandmother Fannie B. (Woodruff) Brodhead. Very light and airy, these cookies melt in your mouth and leave you coming back for more. So far, I have probably downed at least 500 of these myself. So, enjoy! Feedback always welcome.

Ice Cream Patties

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg well-beaten
1/8 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup walnuts/candied cherries (cut into quarters/eighths)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly. Blend in egg and vanilla. Mix flour and salt together and add to the creamed mixture, blending well. Measure small spoonfuls of batter (1/2 tsp) onto well-greased baking sheets. (If you use parchment paper, they don’t spread out as much and the edges are more widely browned). Place a piece of walnut/candied cherry in middle of each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (as early as 6 minutes, especially if you are at a low altitude). Yield: 4-5 dozen patties.

Parchment paper used for the cookies on the left; the right-side cookies were baked directly on the sheet. Either way, very yummy.

Parchment paper used on left; the right side cookies were baked directly on the sheet. Either way, very yummy.

4 1/2 dozen in the cookie jar and already 6 in my tummy!

4 1/2 dozen in the cookie jar and already 6 in my tummy!

Categories: Brodhead, Christmas, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Woodruff | 2 Comments

Holiday Recipe: Cranberry-Walnut Pie

Cranberry-Walnut Pie

As we’re in the midst of the holiday season and kitchen fatigue may be setting in, here is the easiest recipe in the world, and it is absolutely delicious. It takes just minutes to prepare and uses a minimum of ingredients.  The tartness of the cranberries combined with the crunchiness of the walnuts and the sugary goodness of the batter is hard to beat. Many thanks to the Louisville, Kentucky, friends who sent it my way!

Cranberry-Walnut Pie

Mix together:
• One cup of cranberries
• One cup of walnuts
• One-half cup of sugar
Put mixture in a greased pie pan.

Then, mix together:
• One cup flour
• One cup sugar
• One melted stick of butter
• And two eggs
Dump on top of cranberry mix and spread out.

Bake at 325 degrees F. (163 degrees C.) for 50 minutes. Serve with large dollop of whipped cream.


Happy New Year, Everyone!

Categories: Christmas, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Holidays & Festivities | Leave a comment

Grandma’s Candy Recipes

Fannie B. Woodruff Brodhead, Baker and Cook Extraordinaire

Fannie B. Woodruff Brodhead, Baker and Cook Extraordinaire

Just in time for the Christmas holidays… some of Grandma Brodhead’s candy recipes, including her famous fudge (handwritten and typed out versions provided). You can tell from her recipe book, which is as worn and tattered as could be, that she was more the baker than the cook. The quantity of recipes for desserts and sweets outweigh those for the savory by at least 60 percent.

As I am not sure I will have the time to make any more posts between now and December 31, I’ll say it now: Merry Christmas to All, and best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2012!

Grandma’s Fudge Recipe

Fudge
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. water
1 c. Eagle condensed milk
3 squares chocolate
1 c. nut meats
Bring sugar and water to boil. Add condensed milk and boil over low flame until forms soft ball. Stir constantly. Remove from fire and add chocolate. Add chopped nuts. Beat until thick and creamy. Pour into buttered pans.

Categories: Brodhead, Christmas, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Holidays & Festivities, Woodruff | Leave a comment

Some Christmas Cards of Yesteryear

 

Categories: Christmas, Holidays & Festivities | Leave a comment

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