Sunday, December 11, 2016

Why Hang Stockings?

Hanging stockings over the chimney is an integral part of Christmas, and these oversized stockings are reserved for smaller gifts like candy and action figures. But why do we hang stockings anyway, and how did the tradition start?

One of the stories, it turns out, involves Nicholas passing by the homes of maidens too poor to afford a dowry -- money that a bride gives to her groom for their wedding. The bishop would throw gold coins down the chimneys of these maidens, where they would fall into stockings, which were hung over the fire to dry.
Stockings have been an essential part of the Christmas tradition for centuries (except, briefly, in the mid-1800s, when the New York Times wrote that Christmas trees almost completely supplanted them as the tradition of choice).
In my day, we didn't have a special stocking to hang--we used one of my father's old socks!
and in the morning, we would find fruit, nuts and sometimes a quarter in the toe.  
What will you find in your stocking this year?  

Saturday, December 10, 2016

How Did This Tradition Begin?

Here we have St. Nicholas, a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it.  Because of his kindness Nicholas was made a Saint. Nicholas was exiled from Myra and later put in prison during the persecution by the Emperor Diocletian. No one is really knows when he died, but it was on 6th December in either 345 or 352. In 1087, his bones were stolen from Turkey by some Italian merchant sailors. The bones are now kept in the Church named after him in the Italian port of Bari. On St. Nicholas feast day (6th December), the sailors of Bari still carry his statue from the Cathedral out to sea, so that he can bless the waters and give them safe voyages throughout the year.

So, How did St. Nicholas become Santa Claus??

In the 16th Century in northern Europe, after the reformation, the stories and traditions about St. Nicholas became unpopular.
But someone had to deliver presents to children at Christmas, so in the UK, particularly in England, he became 'Father Christmas' or 'Old Man Christmas', an old character from plays during the middle ages in the UK and parts of northern Europe. In France, he was then known as 'Père Nöel' in Germany, the 'Christ Kind'. In the early USA his name was 'Kris Kringle'. Later, Dutch settlers in the USA took the old stories of St. Nicholas with them and Kris Kringle became 'Sinterklaas' or as we now say 'Santa Claus'!
Many countries, especially ones in Europe, celebrate St. Nicholas' Day on 6th December. In Holland and some other European Countries, children leave clogs or shoes out on the 5th December (St. Nicholas Eve) to be filled with presents. They also believe that if they leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas's horse, they will be left some sweets.
St. Nicholas became popular again in the Victorian era when writers, poets and artists rediscovered the old stories.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Third Times A Charm....

  As the baking has been put aside, I'm working on my advent scarves.

Yes, so the saying goes "Third Times a Charm!".
I'm hoping for a cure to this problem!  The Advent Calendar was available on November 27 
from Tricia Weatherston.  It is a Mosaic pattern--when was the last time I EVER did 
Mosaic ?  Or have I EVER knit Mosaic?  
Anyway, I'm trying my hand at this and you can see what I got right out of the gate!
 A Mess!
I cast on--did dark color first--well, that's not going to work if the chart uses
black and white squares to distinguish yarns as the first square is white--
I will be so confused.
Rip it out and begin again--thought I counted right!  How can someone not
count enough stitches--after all, it was only 47 stitches to begin with--
oh and the edge stitches--begin again.
And now, third time..............right number of stitches, light thread first and then
I'm humming along ---I think!
Each day there are a few rows to knit--it only takes me about 30 minutes--getting into the rhythm 
of knitting and being reverent as I prepare for the Christmas season.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Shhhh---Here's The Famous Eggnog Recipe

Finally!  I'm getting to the eggnog!
Please keep it a secret--don't tell him you got it from me!

 Here's hubby's famous eggnog recipe.  He makes it by the gallon and in our house, it doesn't last long!  I guarantee if you like eggnog, this is the recipe for you!  He got the recipe from an old edition of Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, dated hell's bells, I don't know as the front cover is completed shot!  Anyway, he took this recipe and tweaked it some.  Of course, he doesn't tell me what that extra tweak is--but, I think it's LOVE!

So, here goes--hubby's famous eggnog recipe:

1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Cups milk (whole milk please--none of that non fat stuff--after all you're making eggnog!)
2 egg whites
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla, but he adds more

Beat 1/3 cup sugar into egg yolks.  Add salt, stir in milk.  Cook over medium heat, stir constantly till mixture coats the spoon!  Oh, yes, give that spoon a good coat!
Cool this mixture.
Beat egg whites till foamy; gradually add 3 Tablespoons sugar, beating to soft peaks.
Add vanilla.  Fold the egg whites into the custard mixture.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with ground nutmeg--we like to use a grater and fresh
nutmeg--enjoy with your plate of cookies.

For him, it takes several hours to make--to me, it's a messy kitchen to clean up!
But, who cares--everyone loves his eggnog! and that's what it's all about!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Spritz Cookies--Oh Yeah!

With this recipe you need one of those cookie press thingies--I've handed mine off to 
blonded daughter and she makes these cookies now.

Assembly the following:
1 Cup butter--yummy butter!
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons of vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except flour in bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add flour; beat at low speed until well mixed. Prepare dough as directed by variations below, if desired. (If dough is too soft, cover and refrigerate, 30-45 minutes.)
  3. Place dough into cookie press fitted with template. Form desired shapes, 1 inch apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake 6-8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

No Bake Cookies?!

When I asked hubby which was his favorite cookie, he thought for a while and then said,
"those drop chocolate cookies you made".  I said 'those sugary cookies?' and he nodded!
I asked the son the same question and his answer--"those chocolate no bake cookies!"

I can't believe!  All these years, I've been working away on fancy cookies and they
like these no bake ones--gee whiz!  Well, he does have a point though--
no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies are delicious and easy to make.
Sometimes, I'll add some peanut butter.  The kids could hardly wait for the cookies to firm up and sometimes were wiping the cookies off the paper with a spoon!  And everyone wants to lick the pan!

Here goes--the recipe
No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies

Cook time:  
Total time:  
Makes: 2 Dozen
  • 2 cups granulate sugar
  • 8 tbsp. (or 1 stick) butter or soft trans-fat free margarine
  • ½ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup baking cocoa
  • 3 cups oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
Supplies Needed:
  • Measuring Cups
  • Large Saucepan
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Tablespoon
  • Stainless Steel Bowl (to mix hot chocolate mixture with oats)

  1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, margarine, milk, and cocoa.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  3. (Total of about 5 minutes stove time)
  4. Remove bowl / pan from heat. Stir in the oats.
  5. Use a tablespoon to drop batter onto waxed paper or foil.
  6. Let stand until firm. Allow about 30 minutes to form and cool.
  7. Store tightly covered.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bite Size Pecan Pies--

Can't eat a whole pecan pie--well, I could, but that's a different story!
These little pecan pies are perfect for parties or special occasions.  I would 
make them to freeze--when needed--there they were.
Of course, you need those little tiny muffin tins--you know, those little 
tins are so worth the price to create bite size tidbits of anything!

2--3 Oz cream cheese
2 sticks butter
2 cups flour
Let butter/cheese stand at room temperature.  Mix good--then add
flour--best to let sit in refrigerator for 1.5 hours covered.  Okay,
we ready to place in tins:  make small balls and place into muffin tin,
press around to cover the sides and bottoms.  Now, you're ready
for the filling!
1.5 Cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons softened butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1.5 cups pecans (slightly chopped)
1/8 teaspoon salt _funny how this little bit of salt gives pecans taste
Stir together thoroughly to fill your
shells about 3/4 full.
bake 25 minutes in 375* oven

Enjoy, my friends and think of me as you savour!