Monday, 14 December 2009

Lucia Day: Open House 2010

I debated back and forth about having an open house party for Santa Lucia Day. It seemed like it might be a good idea and I was excited about it but worried that I might not have the energy or ability to pull it off. We debated and with my buddy Barb's encouragement we decided to tone it down a bit. A little dinner party was okay and everyone would help. The girls got up garlands and found a few of our Swedish style decorations, including a few special elves.

The next thing to go wrong was that about a week before the party I hurt my back pretty badly and found myself flat on my back and not able to do much of anything.

Thank-you everyone for pulling together and coming to our party!

The menu was:
2 types of Swedish Meatballs,
(in cream sauce or sweet and sour sauce.)

Scalloped potatoes
Rye Bread and butter
Cheese Platter
Pickle Tray
Wasa Bread
Cooked sweet and sour Beets
Baked Beans
Barb's special Salad

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

I would like to say this is a holiday food for us, but it really is more of an everyday desert. If we have left over rice from a meal it is pretty rare for it to be around as a leftover of another meal. It turns into desert. I make it in a pot on the stove. The Swedish holiday version should have a whole almond in it and the person who gets the almond gets to have a wish.

Cook 2 cups of rice in 4 cups of water in a pot with a tight lid. Cold left over rice works just fine.

Add equal parts of rice and milk to a pot
add about a tablespoon butter
egg is optional

I am not so sure about exact measurements. Some days just seem to call for more sugar and raisins. Alicia likes lots of nutmeg. I don't like the stuff.

Below is the The baked version which I might start using more often

Grandma Cambell's Baked Rice Pudding

Bob's grandma used to always bring a rice pudding to family events. This is pretty close to the way she made it.

Wash 1/2 cup pearl grain raw rice thoroughly, cook.
Soak a generous handful of raisins in cup of very hot water.
When the raisins have plumped , drain well.

Mix in large bowl:
5 eggs that have been beaten until thick and yellow
2 cans Carnation Evaporated Milk (12 fl. oz)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix in the drained rice and raisins.
Pour all into 2 1/2 qt. oven proof baking dish. Sprinkle sugar on top. Lightly sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top of sugar. Dot the top generously with real butter. Bake in large pan of water at 350 for one hour or until done.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

White Christmas Cake

My Favorite Christmas Cake

Yes I really do like Christmas Cake. I think a big part of it is memories of making the cake every year with my mother. It was kind of a huge production. back in those days the fruits and nuts were not necessarily all nicely chopped and in a bag ready to go.

My favorite part, besides the wonderful rich smell in the air as it baked, was the final details of arranging nut slivers and candied cherries on the top to make pretty designs in the top of the final product.

1 c butter
1 c white sugar
5 eggs
3 c sifted flour
1 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract
2 c crushed pineapple
1 lb bleached raisins
1 pound candied mixed peel
1/4 lb cherries (candied/glace)
1/4 lb almonds

Preheat over to 300 F.
Wash and dry the raisins. Blanch the almonds, cut in half. Dredge the fruit and the nuts in 1/2 cup of flour. In a large bowl, cream the butter, add sugar gradually. Next add the eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition. Now add the flavorings and crushed pineapple. Add the rest of the flour. Fold the fruit and nuts into the mixture and turn into an 8x8x4 pan lined with parchment paper. Foil can be used but put one layer, and then add a second layer and grease it. Bake for about 3 hours or until done.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

And On Goes the Planning

Open House?

This week my assignment was to decide one way or other if I was going to have an open house buffet this year or not.
St Lucia Day, a Scandinavian celebration we like to celebrate, occurs on Dec 13th and this year it is on a Sunday. We thought how easy it would be to make up a smorgasbord on that day for an open house. Last year I tried to have an open house and we needed to cancel near the last minute as I was just not well enough to pull it off. This year I am doing a lot better, but am I doing well enough to throw a party?

My mentor Teresa and I talked about the various issues and how to make decisions. Most important is to actually make a decision so we agreed I would decide by the end of this week and stick with it. The indecision is hard so just get it over with.

First I am supposed to make up a very rough menu/ shopping list to get a realistic idea of what I am getting into for work and expense. Having it all listed and organized will come in handy some other time if I don't use it now.

What else would need to be done for me to feel comfortable?
Holiday decorations all finished and up
Scandinavian baking to be done
guest list and how many to invite
how to do invitations
plan how to keep rested and keep my energy up

Now that we have basically organized a whole party what next? She said to make a pro and con list. I am apparently a very visual person and she believes seeing my thoughts graphically organized on paper will help me make a good decision. I asked the girls and Bob what they thought about having a party. Bob is willing to do what ever I want. The girls are quite ambiguous about it. It sounds like a lot of work to them. Elizabeth will not be able to attend because of work, but she was kind enough to offer her house for the party. It is a much better party space than our house and it is almost always picture perfect, but it just wouldn't be the same without her there.

I am still working on the decision.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Planning Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Dinner Plans

Emily and I sat down to do this weeks homework: planning our Christmas Eve Traditional Polish 13 course, meatless dinner. Again, the goal is to make things as straight forward and simple as possible and hopefully make these events a source of joy instead of a source of stress.

The Menu was pretty straight forward because we had a head start with using our old holiday records. We have an unusual limitation with this meal because we can't have seafood in our house due to allergies. Many traditional dishes needed to be excluded so we have made up a few of our own traditions.

We sorted out who will take responsibility for each dish and we got an idea who would be needing to use the kitchen when they will need to cook. The grocery list is easy to make with everything organized.

1) Kutia (grain dish)--- Liz
2) Borscht--- Alicia (she just might make and freeze this ahead of time)
3) Perogy Mushroom Sauce--- Bob Sr.
4) Cucumber salad--- Alicia
5-8) Pickled beet, pickles, cheese and crackers--- Me
9) Salad--- Me
10) Cabbage Roll fillings--- Me in the 2 days prior
11) Perogy filling preparation--- Me in the 2 days prior
perogy and cabbage rolls assembly and cooked--- Alicia and Emily
12) Breads and Rolls--- Me but will probably just buy them
13) Christmas Fruit cake and Baking will be already prepared as well as
Frozen from the store Cheese Cake.

Coffee, tea, hot cocoa and eggnog

It feels to good to have some decisions made.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Goodie List

Baking Planning

The family discussions were had and the decisions are now made. We are open to using mixes and to reducing the number of items we are making if life gets stressful. I am still struggling with the balance between our traditional treats and living with a lower calorie diet. Should we just not make these items anymore? Should we find lighter versions of our treats? Perhaps it is all really just having one or 2 treats and not eating all that we might want. I want to preserve these food traditions for now, but no doubling the recipes!

gingerbread cookies
sugar cookies
Scottish shortbread
press cookies

bow ties
Lucia buns

fruit cake
gingerbread cake
bought frozen cheese cake

rody bars
Naniamo bars
peanut butter squares
chocolate marshmallow squares

butter tarts
mincemeat tarts
fruit tarts

chocolate covered cherries
molded chocolates
chocolate barks

There you go .... A Plan!

Friday, 13 November 2009

A New Holiday Season

It is time to get started planning for this year.

This last week I was challenged to get my holiday baking and treats all figured out. The goal is to actually decide on the items that our family really can't live without and to decide when we should prepare items and what can be prepared ahead and frozen.

Can we make life less stressful during the holidays?

It is interesting to me how everyone had different favorites. It makes for a kind of long list though. There is also the idea of what new items might be fun to try this year.

Step 1-- Find all the cook books that have our favorites and any recipes that are loose.
Step 2-- Discuss with all interested parties their thoughts of what can stay and what can go.
Step 3-- List and group the treats and figure out when they should be prepared.
Step 4-- Print and arrange the list in a binder and get the recipes copied and into the same place.

I love the idea of a simpler, more organized December!

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Winding Up of the Christmas Season

The holiday season has come to a close. We have packed up almost all of the decorations and tried to leave them organized and easy to use for next year.

This was a hard year with a lot of challenges, but I want to express my joy and pride in my family for all they did to make this Holiday a wonderful memory. They cooked and decorated, learned new things and did their best to make the holidays a success. It wasn't always easy, but they did it.

I want to open this blog again in November 2009 with new ideas and recording more of our old favorites and recording some of the family stories.

I hope this blog is a helpful resource for family and friends for years to come.

See you in November!!

Grandpa Al Landen's Skating Parties

Grandpa Al Landen loved writing little poems, particularly about his youth.

The Old Time Skating Party

A group of young folks were gathered around
after work at the school ground.

Someone asked, What should we do on Saturday night?
The weather is going to be real nice and bright moonlight.

One of the girls said a skating party would be nice,
Bob said where do we find the ice?

Jane said we could go up to Emily Lake
blankets and lunch we could take.

One of the boys asked who is going to remove the snow?
Susan Jones answered, "My father would know."

He is in the school; I will get him out
Mr Jones came out and said what is the problem about?

When told he said I have a plow in front of my truck
The people cheered at their very good luck.

Word was sent out to almost every one,
young and old come out and have some fun.

It was now Saturday night.
A lot of people were already at the site.

The ice was nice and clean
Thanks to Mr Jones and his snow clearing machine

Boys had gathered wood and made big fires
the light from the moon and fires, made the ice and snow look like daimonds and saphires.

The boys and girls could hardly wait to being to skate.
Mr Cooper said I have a tape player in my car,

I parked the car a bit too far, I will bring it closer by,
and turn the volume up real high.

Now the skaters were gliding along,
to the music of the Skaters Song.

Older folks sat by the fire telling tales of long ago,
of extreme cold and much much snow.

Soon the skaters were hungry, and came to enjoy the food;
which when roasted on the fires tasted very good.

Then everyone sang a campfire song,
Wolves in the distance howled along.

It was getting late, the moon was setting in the west,
after hugs and goodbyes they drove home for much needed rest.

Alfred Landen

Grandpa Bill Cooper's Tally-Ho!!

Another story from Grandpa Cooper

Tally-Ho parties were popular. They cost about $2 for 2 hours, as I remember but then I didn't do the paying so I could be wrong. It was a horse drawn sleigh with some straw on it. It didn't go beyond a trot so you could jump off and back on - or hang on and wear out your mocassins dragging behind or stand on the runners and hold onto the sleigh.

The sleigh was large flat thing. Took 2 horses to pull it easily hold about 20 people was about 4 ft high.

Grandpa Bill Cooper's Memories of Christmas

We gave grandpa a little booklet designed for grandparents to fill in with your memories in answer to some basic questions. It is so valued by us now that he is gone. It is so much like listening to him talk.

"Grandpa, what was the first Christmas you remember like?"

We always had a real tree. Mother and Dad would decorate it after we were in bed. They saw to it that Santa remembered us with a full stocking we had hung on the fireplace, and a nice gift. Like other important memories something sparks it. The first important one of these was when I wanted (badly) an electric train. My 2 brothers were 5 & 7 years older than I was. They got up real early -set up the train and had it running. Then they came and got me up to see it. They told me to listen. I did and I could here it downstairs.

Another year when I was about 12 I wanted skis. By this age I knew that if you let Santaknow early enough that there was an urgent need, he was good for it. Of course you had to be reasonable. I got up and there were the skis. I put them on and thumped around downstairs until I was sent to bed. I got up again and thumped around the attic. Back to be I was sent. I got up and went outside to thump around. It was hours before daylight even then. No one bothered me.

"Where did you hang stockings and how did you decorate the tree?"

I covered these already however- as you might well guess I have a lot of Christmas stories. One year after my Grandfather died & I got his Big Ben alarm clock with large double bells. I wanted to get up Christmas AM very early - like 1:30 AM so I set the alarm for 1:30.
I couldn't get to sleep for I had put this noisy ticking Big Ben under my pillow so as not to awaken everyone within a mile, I kept looking at the time every few minutes. Hands and face glowed in the dark. at 1:25 I turned off alarm- put the clock on my dresser thinking that I would have no problem staying awake 5 minutes. Wrong!

Rice Pudding

We love rice pudding!

Rice pudding is a part of our everyday desert choices, but a bowl of rice pudding is a particular favorite during the Christmas season. The story goes that a bowl of rice pudding needs to be put out every Christmas Eve in the farms of Sweden as a special gift for the magical tomten that are helpers on the farm and also mischief makers that can cause a lot of trouble.

Christmas Rice Pudding

1/2 cup uncooked rice
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 cups milk
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
cinnamon to taste

Cook rice in milk, with salt, over a low heat preferable in a double boiler. Mix together in a bowl the eggs, sugar, nutmeg and vanilla. When the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the milk, add a little of the hot mix to the eggs and stir to combine. Then combine all of it and cook until thick. Add cinnamon. It is good warm or cold.

Friday, 2 January 2009

The Cocoa Set

Bob's Father's Mother, Myrtle Marion, made a wonderful cocoa set.

It is beautifully made and lovely .

Grandpa Bill Cooper wrote about his Mothers China.

"My Mother and Father were very skilled with their hands- Mother did a lot of beautiful hand work including china painting. To watch her you would think it was easy. One day Dad was watching and was a little critical. Mother handed him the dish and invited him to try it. As good as he was with his hands he failed. Never again did he try that. From that day on he would always take guests into the dining room and show off Mother's China. They had a great deal of respect for each other. I can't remember any other time of criticism."

New Year's Dinner

Emily for years now has been making us a wonderful New Years Day Dinner. It started with her wishing to learn about how to truss a Turkey. Since then we have had a lot of excellent dinners With her taking on new challenges every year.
This year, besides a wonderful cranberry and lingon berry glazed turkey with a special cranberry accented stuffing, she invented a new desert Angel Tiramisu.