Category Archives: Holidays

‘A Christmas Memory’…Day 2

Day 2

John:  ‘when the cake is sliced, I want it to look like a stained glass window’.

‘Cherries and citron…and canned Hawaiian pineapple, rinds and raisins….’

  fruit of all colors combined in a large bowl

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whiskey added… (no need to visit Mr. Haha Jones, the whiskey is in the pantry)

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and the Amaretto

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and the Triple Sec Orange

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all stirred together,

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left to marinate overnight, until…

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Day 3

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‘A Christmas Memory’ in May

‘Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather!’

Not a comment I expected to hear on a steamy May morning in Austin!  Not simply a comment, but a quote from ‘A Christmas Memory’, Truman Capote’s memoir of his early childhood in Alabama…the reading of this short story on Christmas Eve, a tradition for Cousin John and his family.  Again sharing a family tradition (see Christmas Pizzelle in May), John read the story to me….

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then, of course, it was time to make fruitcake!!!!….as in Capote’s story, a four day event.

Day 1

With the basic recipe in his head, John peruses old family cookbooks for current inspiration…

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even the pictures are inspiring.

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A carefully considered, comprehensive shopping list is drafted.  Although we did not collect ‘windfall pecans in the buggy’ from a neighbor’s orchard, I felt a kinship with Buddy’s cousin as I rifled through the pile of out-of-season items at the supermarket, looking for green candied cherries.

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Once home, ingredients are assembled…..

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ready for Day 2!

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Christmas Pizzelle in May

At times, circumstance dictates the rhythm of life.  Passing on a family tradition is appropriate whenever the opportunity presents itself…..’strike while the iron is hot’….the pizzelle iron that is!

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Original family recipe – Cousin Joe calls this the Depression Pizzelle  – note the ‘fat content’:  butter, margarine and shortening used to make a total of 12 ounces of fat…when butter was expensive and perhaps in short supply.

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 Cousin John’s amended recipe using all butter:

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Served with a glass of Amaretto on a May afternoon in Austin……….lovely and delicious!!!

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Postcard from the Lane

California Christmas quirky

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Christmas granola

When it comes to granola, I am a bit of a purist….homemade, crunchy, mildly sweet, with simple rather than complex flavors.  While visiting a friend’s daughter’s home in Cincinnati some time ago, I sprinkled her granola over some Greek yogurt for breakfast:  love at first bite!!!

Having made it several times since, I decided to give this batch a Christmas spirit, while still keeping its flavors distinct, if a bit exotic.

To three cups uncooked oats

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add a big handful of raw almonds, chopped; along with a handful of another nut, such as walnuts or pecans, also chopped

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add one third cup olive oil,

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crushed cardamom seed to taste,

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almond extract to taste,

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and brown sugar.

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Mix well; place on baking sheet in 325 degree oven until all ingredients are browned and nuts are toasted, turning often.

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store in mason jars with tight fitting lids

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in the pantry.

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enjoy!!!

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Postcard from another stage

Granddaughter ‘Lucy’ in A Charlie Brown Christmas

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Trees of Christmas past

The golden years, the empty nest, retirement…whatever you choose to call the time of life beyond middle age…can be an amazingly freeing period of re-discovery and growth.  Embracing the reality in which you find yourself – holding on to value, letting go of what no longer works.  I found these words penned some time ago by Alexandra Stoddard, then writer-in residence at Victoria Magazine, to be both life-changing and life-affirming:

“Traditions that were once wonderful should not evolve into obligations.”

1985

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1988

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1991

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1995

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1998

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Tradition for our family:  big tree, real tree, green tree, hung with all the children’s ornaments – hand-made and gathered……….

the children grew and left the nest; the tradition was becoming an obligation.

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Ornaments were passed to those whose small hands had made them and hung them year after year on the tree.

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last year – family heirloom spoons

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this year – vintage salt cellars and shakers

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Do I miss the tradition (and the small hands)???  Yes…in the core of my being………..however – borrowing from Dr. Seuss:

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

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