GOOD MORNING WORLD
“The Peach Blossoms are here! The peach Blossoms are here.” I run around singing that ala Steve Martin in “The Jerk” when the phone books arrive. It is the candy that says Christmas to me as they only come out once a year.
They are described in the Vermont Country Store catalogue as an ‘old-fashioned combination of peach hard candy shell filled with smooth, creamy peanut butter’. They are yummy.
When they arrived this year I was so very excited. Ripped open the can – you have to know I do nothing without passion – and saw them looking not as sparkly smooth and shiny. I took a bite – yuck – stale!!! I was so sad and disappointed and wrote Vermont Country Store immediately for a credit. Did not even want to chance more stale treats of disappointment! Well there are still the chocolate covered Cherries and all the other Christmas goodies.
I started thinking of all the foods that we only have at Christmas time. The first that comes to mind is the oft dreaded fruitcake. The fruitcake is probably the most maligned food at Christmas. Joke after joke are made about fruitcakes especially that they go from person to person year after year and are never eaten. And of course there are the Christmas cookies.
I make a recipe I got from a friend, Marie Cannizzo, years ago. The recipe is called “Ethel’s Sugar Cookies”. Have no idea who Ethel was or if she still is. Each year the kids and I would make these with the Christmas shaped cutters. When the kids grew older and tired of this activity I had another little girl that became our goddaughter – really our daughter from another mother! She loved making cookies. Then when she was too old I would find a neighborhood child who might like to play until our grandchildren came along. I made an interesting discovery a few years ago when there were no kids available. I found out that I could indeed do it on my own. Amazingly it was not quite so messy and did not take as long!!! This will be my activity for Friday.
Once the cookies are made my Christmas baking will be done. No big cakes or pies for us for Christmas for dessert. We have Schwans’ French Vanilla ice cream with cookies for our dessert. Now there is a great Christmas food.
Schwans only makes French Vanilla ice cream once a year. It is delivered in a tin with Currier and Ives decorations on it. The scene is usually a farm house with a fire or ice skaters of some form of travel like a sleigh. I have been getting this ice cream since 1982. The tins are used as decorations in my house as well as for holding items I use regularly. In years passed when I had a freezer I would buy more than one and take them as hostess gifts instead of the usual wine. Got to say they were well received!!!
Our Christmas dinner has also changed. As I think about it the timing might be the same as the beginning of the tins. We used to go to family for Christmas dinner. When the children did not want to leave their toys and the distance was more than an hour we stayed home.
I made a turkey the first year it was only four of us. That was way too much food leftover so I started looking for an alternative. We lived in a small town in southern Maine with a really nice small market with a great meat department. The next year after the turkey we had a rolled rib roast for dinner for four and that was perfect.
We were, inadvertently, having a typical English dinner as I even tried the Yorkshire pudding. That gave way to regular mashed potatoes. The simple meal and dessert were just enough for us.
The fun part is when I moved. A rolled rib roast is not the same the country wide. My favorite market in NC, The Fresh Market, had a great meat dept as well. I asked them for a rolled rib roast at Christmas time and they had no idea what I was talking about. I opened the package and chuckled. There was a standing rib with the bone cut away and the rib meat tied in a string. I had no idea that food could be regional. Then again I should have as I could not get Fluff in NC. Nor Peach Blossoms as they are made by the New England Confectionary Co. Now it is simply a standing rib roast!
I was pleased to hear that my fruitcake, yes I make the much maligned food, was well received this year. I was told by one family member that it might just be the best yet. This person suffers from gout. I was concerned about the alcohol as that irritates gout. I was told that rum does not harm and that fruit is good for gout. We decided that my rum soaked cake may just be a gout fixer!!!
My fruitcakes are made with a recipe that my second mother brought with her from her family in Indiana. It is loaded with fruit, has just enough cake to hold it together and is doused with rum. This year I put them in plastic containers, instead of the rolled cheesecloth covered cakes in a baggie, as I was certain the mail carrier could be picked up for drunk driving from the smell alone.
My dad wrote the recipe out for me in his own handwriting so I have it in a plastic sleeve to preserve it. It is wonderful I calls for flour spelled flower!!! I know he knows the difference. He wrote it after mother Marie passed away so I can imagine the distractions.
This year someone told me they liked fruitcake and I said I would send one to them. For the life of me I cannot remember who it was!!! Oh well next year I will write it down. Your foods are???
…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…