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!