wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Yule Love Yule Logs

This is a very Christmassy recipe, but it’s good any time of the year.

Simple to make: all the ingredients are in the picture below. No baking powder or baking soda or salt. Just butter, sugar, flour and an egg, vanilla, dates and nuts (you can do without the nuts if you have an allergy). Recipe is at the end of this post.

You can see that I’ve chopped the dates (except for one to show you) and the pecans (you can use walnuts if you prefer them).

Mix the butter and sugar, add an egg and mix again, add the vanilla and then the flour. You’ll get a gooey batter.

Drop by spoonfuls, a couple at a time, into a bowl with shredded coconut, and to avoid getting batter all over your fingers, take a pinch of coconut and push the batter off the spoon with it. Then coat the batter over and over  in the coconut, pressing lots of coconut into the batter as you shape it into a roll (a yule log).

Place the logs on a greased cookie sheet and bake them at 350 for 15 minutes.

They should be golden brown when they’re done.

Now all you need is a cup of something to go with the logs.

I copied my mother-in-law’s recipe years ago. She used walnuts, but I like pecans too, so sometimes I substitute.

Easy recipe. Enjoy!


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Winter’s Frosty Breath

It’s only October, but this farm scene would make a perfect Christmas card.

The shrubs in the distance have a frosting on them that is making the little ground squirrels living under them shiver.

Here is plenty of fuel to keep someone warm – someone far away, wherever this train is going.

The clumps of sagebrush and other grasses have been coated by winter’s frosty breath, giving them a designer look.

Did you ever mix up powdered laundry soap and water with an egg-beater and then dab the “snow” you made onto your Christmas tree? Then the decorations would be hung once the soapy snow had dried. These trees reminded me of doing that as a child. (I apologize for mentioning Christmas so early.)

The wintery air brings out the elves

They wait for dark or fog

So they can better hide themselves

Behind a nearby log.

The head elf orders laundry soap

The powdered kind is best

They spit in it and then they hope

That this will pass the test.

The soapy snow must be so thick

That it won’t dribble down

It must be right so it will stick

And give the tree its gown.

With sagey brush, like tiny brooms

They paint each branch with snow

The night is short, a new day looms

And all the elves must go.

If I’d been passing by last night

I’m sure I would have seen

But I’d have given them a fright

And I can’t be that mean.

And so I’ll just admire their trees

That look so pure and white

The elves are happy when they please

And know they’ve done it right.


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End of Year Thoughts

I’ve never taken a  break from blogging since I started this blog in 2011, but I think it’s time for a breather until after the new year.

At this time, I often think about people who have lost loved ones they miss even more than usual around this traditional family time. I tell myself that if it were me, I would manage to get through the hardest times by remembering the lost ones with good memories of them. If I need to have a little cry in private, so be it, but then I would pull myself together and try to focus on the joy of others.

Soon a new day will begin. It will be just another day without all the traditions that come with bittersweet memories attached, but it will be a new day and a challenge for me to make the most of it.

I like to think ahead and make plans and goals and things to look forward to – one of the reasons I love January.

I want to thank you all for being there. Blogging would not be fun without you.

I hope that, whatever form your celebrations take at this time of year, you have lots of warm, fuzzy  times with friends and family. I look forward to seeing you on your blogs and mine in the new year.


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Vintage Books and Glasses

When I visited my sister recently, I had forgotten that she has been the guardian of some of the old family treasures from long ago. It was a pleasant surprise to see the items being kept safe behind the glass doors of a china cabinet.

The small blue liqueur glasses and decanter were perhaps bought in our first few years in Canada, more than half a century ago. The small wine or martini glass with the yellow swirls and the spiral stem is from a set that came to Canada with my parents back in 1953. This one is probably all that is left of the set.

When I saw it, I thought of my tongue. Odd, you might think, but memories that involve the senses can be very strong and long lasting.

My parents used to bring out these special yellow swirly glasses at Christmastime and pour a little egg liqueur from a bottle of Bols advocaat. We children were too young to be allowed alcohol, but once in a while, and because it was a festive season, we were allowed to lick out the last bit of advocaat from the yellow swirly glasses. Kind of gross, in hindsight, but as kids, we were thrilled.

So you can see that the yellow swirly glass holds special memories for me — not only the taste of the advocaat, but the smell of Christmas baking, the beautiful Christmas music, the coziness of the house and the love given to us by our parents.

Some might say these glasses are just inanimate objects, but they hold the key to a gold mine of memories.

Under the shelf with the glasses, two books leaned against the back of the cabinet. The old copy of Forever Amber, which I read when I was 16 (and that wasn’t yesterday), and another of my favourite stories, Little Black Sambo. The bigwigs now say that this book is racist, and have banned it, but I loved reading it and never once felt anything negative towards people of another race from that experience. My family and I simply loved that story.

Thanks to Luanne Castle https://writersite.org/2017/11/02/magical-bowls/

for the nudge to trot out old memories.


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You’ll Love “Yule Logs”

These delicious cookies are supposed to look like logs, but when you have help to make cookies you don’t criticize a little aberration in the shape of the “logs.”

Also, I think it’s encouraging  to others when you hear that, even though the “log” shapes turned out a bit unorthodox, the taste of the cookies is “more-ish” (as my father-in-law used to say, when a food made you want more).

The incredibly easy recipe is below the photo.

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The Admiral’s Yule Logs

2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans, or hazelnuts, or….)

shredded coconut

Mix butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, dates, and nuts in the usual way, and in the order listed. Have some shredded coconut in a shallow bowl or plate. Drop a teaspoonful of the dough into the coconut and roll it around to coat the lump of dough. Then, using the coconut to keep it from sticking to your fingers, roll the dough into the shape of a tiny log, about the size of your little finger. When the logs are shaped and coated in coconut, place them on a buttered cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until brown. (325 if oven is too hot.)


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Gingerbread Man

At Christmastime, I bake gingersnaps. The Captain’s mother, the Admiral, always made gingersnaps for Christmas. It was my job to take up the flag, as it were, and carry on the tradition. I’m getting better, but they’re never as good as the Admiral’s. One thing she always did was to make a gingerbread man from the last bit of leftover dough.  As I made the gingersnaps today, the last bit of dough looked to me like the shape of a deer’s head, so I cut out the rest of its shape. Then I still had enough to make a gingerbread man. This year my man has a broken leg so I gave the gingerbread man an aircast boot and two crutches. He looks a bit ghoulish but I’m sure he felt that way in his first days of hobbling around, so maybe it’s appropriate.dscn7600

If you’re feeling inspired to make gingersnaps (and why wouldn’t you feel inspired after seeing these? – If I can do it, anyone can) the recipe follows:

Gingersnaps

Put in pot and let come to boil:

1 c. butter

1 c. molasses (I like fancy molasses but the other kinds work too.)

½ c. brown sugar

I let it boil for about a minute, stirring all the time. Remove from heat. Put in bowl. Be careful. The boiled syrup is VERY hot.

Add:

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground ginger

3 – 3 ½ c. flour

*Candied ginger pieces can be added to the dough.  Also grated fresh ginger root may be added.

Cool in fridge for a few hours or overnight. I divide the dough into four pieces and then cool it. Otherwise it becomes a challenge to roll out as one big piece. The dough will be quite hard but don’t give up when you roll it out. Slice or cut with cookie cutter.

No need to butter the cookie sheet as the dough is buttery enough.

Bake at 350* for 8 minutes.

The cookies freeze well so it’s easy to haul out a few when friends drop in.


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Beware of Hot Chestnuts

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In the autumn, trees provide us with all sorts of fruit and nuts. Just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the edible chestnuts are ripe. In some countries people are lucky enough to be able to go picking chestnuts for their own consumption; the rest of us have to buy them in our grocery stores. Chestnuts are a savoury addition to the turkey stuffing, but I find them even more appealing when they’ve been roasted in an open fire, just as the song suggests.

In my twenties, and newly wed, I was visiting at the home of my in-laws. We sat on the carpet by the fireplace watching as a batch of chestnuts, enclosed in a wrapper of tinfoil, roasted in the fire.

“I’ve never tasted chestnuts before,” I said. “This will be a first for me.”

“You’re in for a treat,” everyone agreed. The room was cozy with the warm glow of the fire, lights turned low, soft music, and loving people—a perfect evening.

My father-in-law fished the hot tinfoil packet out of the embers. “I think they’re done.”

I watched to see how the chestnuts were eaten. The tough pellicle had to be taken off first, and I learned that teeth worked just fine for opening an edge of the chestnut skin. Inside was the rich meat of the chestnut, hot and fluffy like a baked potato, so delicious with its mild nutty flavour.

“These are so good,” I said, reaching for another one. More confident now, I bit into the skin of the next one. A loud pop inside my head sounded like a gun had gone off, and the steaming hot chestnut meat shot towards the back of my throat and filled my mouth.

I wanted to spit out the starchy mass that was burning my cheeks, tongue and gums, but I was a guest—a shy one—in this lovely home. I couldn’t just spit out the exploded chestnut onto the wool carpet. I leapt up, ran to the bathroom, and spat into the sink.

The family came running and hovered around me. “Are you okay? Let’s see.”

“Oh my! Quick! Have a glass of cold water.”

My husband rubbed my shoulder. “Does it hurt?”

“You should have spat it out on the floor right away.”

That night my throat swelled up so much I could hardly breathe. I thought a small child would never survive this without medical intervention.

At the clinic the next day I got some gel to take the pain away. I worried at first that I might lose teeth if my gums were too badly burned. When my cheeks healed I could feel ropy ridges of scar tissue, but at least I had my teeth.

Since then I have learned that the skin of the chestnuts should be cut before roasting to allow the steam to escape.

 

I still love chestnuts, but I’m very careful when I eat them now. I’m guessing my thoughts are different from those of most people when I hear the song, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”

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