For this story, I need to travel back in time; at least 50 years. It was during that era that my mother was raising a family. I was the firstborn. Five more children followed.
Mom spent many hours in the kitchen. As kids grow, so do their appetites. If mom wasn't preparing a meal, she often was making a dessert, baking bread or stirring up a double batch of cookie dough. It wasn't unusual for her to try new recipes. I don't recall many failures. Almost everything she served was delicious.
If we had visitors over for lunch or a holiday meal, I can remember hearing mom say, "It isn't anything fancy." She wasn't one to use garnishes or unusual ingredients in the dishes she prepared. What mattered most was that the food tasted good.
During the month of December, mom spent even more time in the kitchen. She often baked in the evening hours after the "little distractions" were snug in their beds. From her kitchen came assorted breads, bars, festive cookies, and candies, too. She would fill boxes, tins or plates with "goodies" and share them with friends and family. Everyone enjoyed Berny's baked goods and she earned a reputation as an excellent cook.
As the years passed, my sister, Judy, and I found husbands and started families of our own. It wasn't long before we began to imitate our mother. We both enjoyed baking and trying new recipes. We soon found ourselves doing baking for others. If we were having a rummage sale, there was usually a table filled with fresh baked goods waiting to be purchased. The goodies didn't last long.
Judy and I also did quite a bit of holiday baking. Some of the treats were purchased by others, but the majority of what we made was given away.
In recent years, we have cut back and make fewer varieties of holiday goodies, but we still share with others. We derive so much enjoyment from giving our kitchen creations to friends and family. The holiday treats are always well received.
I hope it makes our mom happy to know that the tradition initiated by her so many years ago still lives on.
Mom made this candy only once a year - a real treat
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 T. white vinegar
1 T. baking soda
In a large saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and vinegar. Cook and stir over med. heat until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 300 on candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Quickly stir in baking soda, mixing well. Will foam a bit. Pour into lightly buttered 9x9x2-in. pan. Do not spread, as it will spread itself. Allow to cool at room temp. Break into pieces (not too small). Dip in chocolate to coat.
Chocolate coating -
Melt 12 oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate chips with 1 T. shortening (Crisco) or a small piece of paraffin (3/4x1/2-in. piece)
Great to make ahead - freeze well
MOM'S SALTED PEANUT COOKIES
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups oatmeal (quick)
1/2 cup corn flakes (crushed)
Cream together butter, shortening and brown sugar. Add beaten egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in peanuts, oatmeal and corn flakes. Mix well. Drop by teaspoon onto greased baking sheet. Flatten with fork. Bake at 350, 10 to 12 min. Leave on pan one minute; then remove to cooling rack.
Notes: May substitute a stick of margarine for shortening; allow margarine to soften before use. Rice Krispies can be substituted for corn flakes.
These almost fly off the plate
80 Ritz Crackers
1/2-lb. almond bark (vanilla)
12 oz. chocolate chips
Spread peanut butter between two crackers. Gently press together. Repeat until all crackers are used. Melt almond bark and chocolate chips together. May use double boiler or microwave. Dip crackers in chocolate coating; allowing excess coating to drip off. Place on waxed paper. Yield: 40 treats.
Note: Store in sealed container at room temperature.
Our daughter, Sue, shared this with us last Christmas
CHUNKY APPLE PUMPKIN BREAD
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup veg. oil
1-2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup chopped peeled apples
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, water, oil and eggs; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and cloves; add to the pumpkin mixture. Beat on low speed just until moistened. Fold in apples and walnuts. Pour into a greased 9x5x3-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325 for 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 min. before removing from pan to a wire rack.
Note: very moist and full of flavor.
Food for Thought: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
Christmas ... A time to love, a time to share, a time to care. Merry Christmas.