Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mexican Christmas Punch — Ponche Navideño

“ ‘Ponche Navideño’ is the Christmas punch made from a bubbling mixture of Mexican fruits,” Mayuli Bales, director of multicultural ministries for the St. Cloud Diocese, said. “It’s the traditional treat served during Las Posadas that stands most out for me.”
“We simmer special seasonal fruits — fresh sugar cane, guavas, tejocotes and more — sometimes for several days before serving it,” Mayuli said. “So people can eat the pieces of fruit ladled into the cups with the flavorful juice, we offer them spoons. It makes my mouth water to remember those wonderful wafting aromas.”

Throughout Mexico, she said, Ponche Navideño is a symbol of Christmas — it’s offered to friends and neighbors who visit during Las Posadas.

Las Posadas is a novena, a nine-day litany of song and prayer that tells of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter. Beginning Dec. 16 and ending Christmas Eve, people go from house to house in their neighborhoods, asking for — and being denied — safe lodgings until finally hosts open their door for them. Then the pilgrims enjoy special treats, like Ponche Navideño, at the home of their hosts. NLR

Ponche Navideño
(Mayuli Bales)

8 quarts water
3 sticks cinnamon

1 1/4 (1 lb.) jars tejocotes
2 (1 lb.)  jars sugar cane (in syrup)
5 (8 oz.) pkgs. piloncillo ***

3 pears, stems and cores removed and cut in chunks
4 sweet apples (such as Sweet Lady), cut in chunks
8 guavas, cut in half

1 lb. pitted prunes, cut in half

1 cup raisins

3 whole oranges
1/2 cup whole cloves

Brandy or rum (optional)

Place water, cinnamon sticks, tejocotes, sugar cane and piloncillo in a very large pot and bring to a boil. Add pears, apples, guavas, prunes and raisins to the pot and return to a boil. Stud the oranges with the whole cloves and add to the mixture. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat. Scoop fruits into serving cups and then ladle in the juice. (Brandy or rum or other alcoholic spirits can be added if desired.) Serve hot.
 Yield: About 30 servings

A note from Nikki: Tejocotes* are small, apple-like fruits of the hawthorn tree, in season in Mexico at holiday time. Looking like orange or golden crab apples, their flavor is uniquely sweet and sour, ranging between a plum and an apricot. In Minnesota they are available at local Mexican grocery stores, bottled in syrup. Tejocotes can also be ordered online.
 “Fresh sugar cane ** is juicy and sweet.” Mayuli said. “It drips down your arms when you peel it.” If it appears too dry, it can be soaked overnight and the outer bark peeled and discarded — the rehydrated core can then be chopped. In Minnesota, sugar cane is available bottled in syrup and found in Mexican grocery stores.

Piloncillo*** is an unrefined, dark brown sugar formed into cones. To substitute, use 2 1/2 lbs. dark brown sugar.

A note from Carol: Nikki Rajala, a friend and fellow copy editor at The Visitor, is the guest writer for this posting. You may remember Nikki’s “Taking Tea” series from 201l, her recipes for Honeydew Blueberry Salad and Watermelon Tomato Salad or the numerous pictures she taken of dishes featured on FFF. I appreciate her help in so many ways. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Old-fashioned Eggnog

Savoring a cup or two of eggnog is a tradition most of us look forward to this time of year. Its indulgent texture and flavor stir up memories of Christmases past and of those with whom we’ve shared this rich beverage.

Chris Codden’s memories stretch back to her childhood in Chicago when she used to stand on a chair by the stove in her mother’s kitchen, stirring the sweet, white liquid to the point of simmering. This is her mother Zelma Clark’s recipe and Chris remembers making it for most of her life.
“My family looks forward to this eggnog every year,” Chris said. “It’s the only time of year that I make it — it’s like drinking a liquid custard. We have it both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It’s something a family can prepare together — I always let the kids help with the stirring like I did when I was a little girl.

“It was a tradition for my mom to make huge batches that we would take to neighbors and family members. I do the same thing, making gallons each year to give away to every one here in the office and also Bishop Kinney. I think he really likes it. I put it in a special glass bottle for him and every year in January he sends the bottle back with a thank you note and a “request” to refill it the next year.” CJK

Old-fashioned Eggnog
(Chris Codden)

1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
4 cups milk
2 egg whites
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
Ground nutmeg, for sprinkling

Beat 1/3 cup sugar into the egg yolks and pour into a large saucepan. Add the salt and stir in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until this custard mixture coats a spoon — just before reaching the boiling point. Cool.

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add 3 tbsp. sugar and continue beating to soft peaks. Gently add to the custard and mix in thoroughly. Add the vanilla. Chill 3 or 4 hours. Pour into a punch bowl or cups — dot with dollops of whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

A note from Chris: We regularly drink skim milk at home but I’m not allowed to make this eggnog with skim milk. I have tried it in the past and it didn’t turn out as good so I always use whole milk. Christmas is the only time of year that I buy whole milk.

We bought a bottle of Mexican vanilla the first year that we were married and loved how it intensified the flavor and so I’ve used Mexican vanilla ever since.

Also, I generally quadruple the recipe to make a gallon. I usually make two gallons a year. (For one gallon, the initial cooking process takes about 45 minutes to an hour.)

A note from Carol: Chris Codden, the director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family, is the past-president of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers and an advisor to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. She and her husband Rich are members of St. Anthony Church in St. Cloud and have been actively involved with Marriage Encounter in the past.

The couple has four children: Michelle, Lynette, Donny and Clayton, who died in infancy in 1980, and two grandchildren: Isaiah and Angelo.

Chris shared her recipe for barbecued pork ribs last year. They are a bit time-consuming, requiring frequent attention from the cook, but all the TLC pays off in the end. They are absolutely fabulous!

Bishop John Kinney is the bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

I love collecting recipes. I’ve done it for as long as I can remember — starting my huge treasure trove of them about the time I was in third grade. I garner them from many sources — cookbooks, magazines, newspapers, and these days, online.

Of course I also gather them from friends, relatives, coworkers — the people in my life. These are the truly special ones. For me, they possess a level of emotional attachment and a deeper meaning than the rest. These recipes immediately trigger memories of the person who gave them to me and remind me of the times we’ve shared together.

This recipe is one of those. I got it from Mary Schindler, a friend who savored life and lived every moment with true zest and zeal. I hope you’ve had a chance to read yesterday’s posting about Mary — she was one of a kind!

I’ve included the charming special tips (in pink) that Mary added when she sent me the recipe. I’m honored to be able to share it you. CJK

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake
(Mary Schindler)

1 cup (6 oz.) chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet chips — not milk chocolate.) 
3/4 cup flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter 

3 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened (I used 2 light and 1 regular.)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream — sometimes I use plain yogurt.)
6 eggs

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Melt chocolate chips. Mix the flour, sugar and butter together and then stir in 2 tbsp. of the melted chocolate. Pat the mixture into a springform pan. (Mine was 9 inches.) Bake the crust in the preheated oven at 400°F for 10 minutes.

Beat first five ingredients together and then add the eggs — one at a time.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of batter. Gently mix the rest of the melted chocolate into the remaining batter. (I tweaked this by adding a few shakes of cinnamon and a pinch of chili pepper.)

Pour the plain batter into the baked crust.  Drop the chocolate batter on top of it and swirl it through. 

Put the cheesecake into the 400°F oven and then immediately turn the temperature down to 300°F.  Bake for 1 hour, without opening the door. (I’ve seen on the Food Network to put a pan of water on the shelf below the cake — I did that this time.) When the time is up, shut off the oven, but do not open or remove the cheesecake for another hour. (It usually cracks across the surface like you saw.) When that hour is up, remove, cool and refrigerate 8 hours.   YUM  :) Mary Schindler

A note from Carol: Mary called this sweet treat “Educated Cheesecake” in the recipe she sent to me — but that, dear readers, is a story of its own.

This cheesecake would be a hit at any holiday gathering. It offers a heavenly blend of rich chocolate and vanilla flavors and it’s absolutely attractive. I liked Mary’s idea of adding a bit of cinnamon and chili powder to the chocolate batter — perky!

Another idea is to add 1 to 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract to the chocolate batter before it’s swirled into the white one. Once it’s baked and cooled crushed candy canes sprinkled over the top would give it a festive look and complement the peppermint flavor.

Other cheesecake recipes on FFF that you may like to try are Sheila Seelhammer’s Almond Cheesecake and Carl Monson’s Cheesecake Supreme.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Remembering Mary Schindler

Alicyn receives a hug from her mom on Mary’s last birthday in May 2009.
(Photo courtesy of Ron Syme)
Five years ago today I received an email from a friend, Mary Schindler. It contained Mary’s recipe for Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with a little note remarking on the previous day’s event — the Big Tomato Contest, an annual rivalry at that time between Pastoral Center and Catholic Charities employees.

The tomato challenge, which occurred for six or seven years, was initiated by Mary, the supervisor for the financial counseling department for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, and Steve Gessell, the maintenance worker for properties of the St. Cloud Diocese. That particular year our building defended the title with the largest red “fruit” and so Catholic Charities employees returned some weeks later singing the required “You are the champions” tune and the fabulous cheesecake Mary had baked as an offering to the “tough competition.”

I remember the fun and laughter we all shared that day and Mary’s scrumptious cheesecake. I treasure the recipe she shared with me, which included a number of tips telling exactly how she prepared it. And most of all, I count myself blessed to have known Mary — her spirit was large and bright, vivacious and magnetizing — full of love for those around her.

She passed away from cancer, at the age of 52, on Aug. 23, 2009, a week short of celebrating 25 years of marriage with her loving husband, Ron Syme. The couple’s three children — Symon (25), Nate (20) and Alicyn (16) — were a huge part of Mary’s life.

It’s been heart warming to talk with Ron and a few of her former coworkers these last few days. Memories of times with Mary are truly cherished by those who knew her.

“She had a zest for life and never took anything for granted,” recalls Jenny McDermond, Catholic Charities financial and housing counselor who began working with Mary in 2001. “She put her heart into everything she did — cooking, trying new recipes, making kimchee, reading, her work, her family, her friends, the Spanish language — everything.

“One of my fondest memories is traveling to South Korea in 2006 with Mary, her family, their exchange student Jun Soo Lee and my sister Becky,” she continued. “She encouraged me to learn about my heritage and to be proud of being a Korean-American by introducing me to Kamp Kimchee (a family camp for Korean-adoptees) and through weekly meetings at her house to learn Korean from Jun Soo Lee.

 “She would bring people together and the events were always inclusive,” said Sue Kilian, Catholic Charities financial and housing counselor who worked with Mary for 21 years. “I remember game nights that she would organize for coworkers and former coworkers which were always open to everyone including any guests people wanted to bring. We would play games, eat food and laugh a lot.

“She was just a lot of fun,” Sue continued. “If she was excited about something she wanted everyone to be excited about whatever it was — her enthusiasm was absolutely infectious.”

“Mary was the kindest person I’ve ever met. She made everybody feel comfortable all the time,” remembers her long time friend Sherri Magnuson, secretary/receptionist at Catholic Charities. “And, once she was your friend, she was your friend forever.”

A note from Carol: Mary worked in the financial counseling department for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud for over 25 years.

Please visit FFF again tomorrow to see her cheesecake recipe.

The Schindler-Syme family in 2006 — Ron (front, left) and Alicyn, Nate, 
Jun Soo Lee, Mary and Symon. (Photo courtesy of Ron Syme)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Blessings

The blessings of Thanksgiving …

It focuses our minds on our blessings rather than our problems.
It makes the heart glad for what we have been given and 
it takes our minds off the burdens we all have. 
Thanksgiving recognizes the giver as well as the gift. 
It keeps it on the positive side.
In life of plenty and prosperity we seem to 
take everything for granted.
How appreciative we should be for our blessings 
and what a wonderful thing is a holiday, 
which focuses our attention on them.
Thanksgiving is therapy we all need to keep cognizant 
of the blessings and the beauty of living. 
This year let's set aside a few minutes of the holiday to sit alone and think of the many things for which we should be grateful ~
Then this great holiday will have true meaning for us!

— Robert N. Filie

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Take time to thank a veteran

Veterans Day 2012

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

— Elmer Davis

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

If I could live my life over …

“If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed 
less and listened more. ... 
There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it. …

Erma Bombeck, Newsday Newspaper Syndicate, 1979

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ogilvie celebrates its new namesake — St. Kateri

St. Kathryn Parish in Ogilvie hosted a diocesan celebration in honor of the canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Rome Oct. 21. The celebration began with a 10 a.m. Mass followed by a meal, children’s games and speeches. 

Benedictine Brother Xavier Schermerhorn, Bishop John Kinney and 
Father Bill Vos pray during the Mass. (Photos by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully)

Father Bill Vos holds incense over the St. Kateri print as Bishop Kinney reads a blessing. A new stained glass window of St. Kateri was blessed after the print.

A display in front of the altar at St. Kathryn’s featured a print given to St. Kathryn’s from its sister parish, St. Mary’s in Mora. The print was also given to Bishop John Kinney and Bishop Rafael Conde of Venezuela as gifts from St. Kathryn’s.

A stained glass window of St. Kateri was made by Sally Young of Wahkon and installed Oct. 17 at St. Kathryn Church in Ogilvie.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is one of seven individuals who were canonized in Rome today. She is the first Native American saint.

Saint Kateri is depicted in this detailed view of the oldest known portrait of her — painted about 16 years after her death — by Jesuit Father Claude Chauchetière, who personally knew her. (CNS Photo, Courtesy of the Cause of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pilgrimage to statue of Blessed Kateri

(Photo courtesy of St. John’s University Archives)

To commemorate Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization in Rome tomorrow, an 11:45 a.m. pilgrimage is planned to the statue of Blessed Kateri, which is on the path to the Stella Maris Chapel in Collegeville, Minnesota. A litany will be prayed in her honor.

Those who would like to attend should meet at the Chapter House at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville. The event may be cancelled in case of rain. For more information, call 320-363-3983.

Blueberry Peek-a-Boo Bars

Lynne Stritesky is baking three pans of these enticing blueberry bars to serve during the celebration Sunday commemorating Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization in Rome that day. The St. Cloud Diocesan event will take place in Ogilvie at St. Kathryn Church, whose patron, Kateri, is the first Native American to be named a saint. The celebration, including a Mass starting at 10 a.m., freewill offering turkey dinner with “lots of trimmings” and program, is open to all.

The bars have a bit of a reputation in Ogilvie — Lynne dubbed them “ecumenical” as she got the recipe from a friend of hers, Sandy, who is the wife of the pastor of the Lewis Lake Covenant Church there. Lynne has made them for several community functions and church bake sales over the years. Those who attend the diocesan celebration could find making dessert decisions somewhat difficult  — they will need to choose between these tempting bars and blueberry or pumpkin pie and bars. Yum! CJK

Blueberry Peek-a-Boo Bars
(Lynne Stritesky)

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 can blueberry pie filling

Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour.

Pat one-half of the dough in the prepared pan. Spread blueberry filling over dough. Dot remaining dough over the top — it spreads out on its own. Bake in a 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Yield: 15 to 18 servings

A note from Lynne: This recipe is so simple and most of the ingredients are items you generally have on hand. I always use margarine instead of butter and find it works out just fine. Sandy has substituted cherry pie filling for the blueberry.

Also, I always make a powdered sugar frosting to top the bars using butter or margarine, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.

A note from Carol: Lynne and her husband, Gene, have been parishioners of St. Kathryn Parish in Ogilvie since 1977, when they moved to the area as newlyweds. The couple has four adult children and two grandsons.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Corn Relish

This colorful corn relish sounds delightful! It’s one of the dishes that will be served Sunday at the diocesan celebration hosted by St. Kathryn Parish in Ogilvie, Minnesota, to commemorate Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization that day. It will taste delicious with the turkey, wild rice dressing, squash, cranberries and blueberry and pumpkin desserts! CJK

Corn Relish
(Lois Ripka)

10 cups corn, blanched
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped sweet pepper (red, yellow, orange)
1 tbsp. salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. mustard seed

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 15 minutes.

Pack in sterilized canning jars; add lids and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Yield: 20 cups

A note from Carol: Instead of canning the corn relish, Lois Ripka, who is heading the dinner committee, has prepared it fresh for the celebration this week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wild Rice Dressing

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Statue
 (CNS Photo) 
Yesterday I mentioned the diocesan celebration this coming Sunday, hosted by St. Kathryn Parish in Ogilvie, Minnesota, to commemorate Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization in Rome that day. After the Mass, those who attend will be invited to a freewill offering dinner including roasted turkey, wild rice dressing, baked squash, homemade corn relish, cranberries and desserts — blueberry and pumpkin pies and bars.

St. Kathryn parishioner Lois Ripka is coordinating the feast. “We’ve chosen foods that we think Native Americans would have eaten,” Lois said. “We’re expecting to feed around 200 people — it is a little mind boggling because we don’t really have any idea how many people will attend the event.

“Another woman in our parish has volunteered to roast 20 turkeys,” she continued. “We’ll make 20 recipes of the wild rice dressing from the diocese’s Centennial Cookbook, three big roasters of squash, homemade corn relish from this summer’s crop of corn-on-the-cob, and at least 10 pies. Most of the food will be made at the church but some volunteers will also bake pans of bars at home. Six women from our sister parish, St. Mary’s in Mora, have volunteered to help our committee by serving the tables.”

Lois said that the Centennial Cookbook is one of her favorites. This wild rice dressing recipe, submitted by Edie Flahave of Royalton, Minnesota, has seen the test of time. “I probably got this recipe about 1974 from Clara Rooney, a longtime resident of Royalton,” Edie recalled. “It’s quite an attractive dish — very pretty. I served it quite often with duck when my husband did more hunting.” CJK

Wild Rice Dressing
(Edie Flahave)

1/2 cup wild rice, prepared
1/2 cup white rice, prepared
 1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 cup hot water
1 (8 oz.) pkg. herb stuffing mix
1 (2 oz.) jar pimentos, drained
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Cook wild rice and white rice separately.

Melt butter. Saute onions, celery and mushrooms in the butter for about two minutes. Stir in the hot water and stuffing mix. Add the pimentos, parsley and the hot, cooked wild and white rice and combine all ingredients together.

Bake dressing in a greased casserole at 350°F for 30 to 45 minutes. (The original recipe suggests stuffing fowl with the dressing or baking it to serve with fowl.)

A note from Carol: The Centennial Cookbook was published in 1989, commemorating the diocese’s 100th anniversary. It is no longer available for purchase.

Lois (Voss) and her husband, John, are longtime parishioners of St. Kathryn’s. She’s originally from Ogilvie and he hails from Mora. They are parents to six adult children, grandparents to 15 and great-grandparents of two.

Edith Ann (Petron), who has gone by Edie since she was a child, was baptized, confirmed and married in Holy Trinity Church in Royalton. She and her husband, Bob, also a member there, have two adult children and five grandchildren.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the daughter of a Mohawk Turtle clan chief and a Roman Catholic Algonquin mother, was born in 1656. Her parents and brother died in a smallpox epidemic when she was four. She, too, contracted the disease and was left with multiple scars and impaired eyesight.

Her childhood and teen years were difficult as unsympathetic non-Christian relatives in the Mohawk community in Ossernenon, in what are now Auriesville and Fonda, New York, raised her. She began studying Catholicism in private at the age of 18 and was baptized by a Jesuit missionary on Easter in 1676 when she was 20.

After her baptism, her family and village ostracized and ridiculed her — even threatening to kill her. The next year she fled, taking refuge at St. Francis Xavier Mission in the Mohawk Nation at Caughnawaga (Kahnawake), a Canadian village near present-day Montreal, Quebec. There, she lived a life devoted to her Catholic faith — often attending Mass at both dawn and sunset. Kateri was known for her gentleness, kindness and good humor. During the last years of her life she suffered from a serious illness. She died in 1680, at age 24, and was buried in Caughnawaga.

In the late 1800s, Native Americans began making appeals to the Catholic Church that she be recognized for her deep spirituality and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Kateri, known as the Lily of the Mohawks, in 1980. Pope Benedict XVI announced February 18 of this year that she will be formally canonized in Rome on World Mission Sunday, Oct. 21.

In commemoration of Blessed Kateri’s canonization, St. Kathryn Parish in Ogilvie, Minnesota, will host a diocesan celebration that day. St. Kathryn’s was chosen as the site for the St. Cloud Diocesan event because Kateri, also known as Catherine Tegakwitha or Takwita, has been their patron since the parish formed in 1946.

Bishop Peter Bartholome, bishop of the St. Cloud Diocese at the time, named the parish St. Kathryn in her honor, saying that at least one parish in the diocese should revere her. He felt that one day she would become a saint and now his prediction is coming true.
The diocesan event includes a Mass celebrated by St. Cloud Diocesan Bishop John Kinney at 10 a.m. During the Mass a print of Blessed Kateri will be blessed as well as a stained glass window of her that will eventually be installed in the church. After the Mass there will be a special dinner and program and Native American games for children.

Visit FFF tomorrow to learn more about the dinner and recipes for some of the foods that will be served. CJK

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fall’s jolly orange giant

Oh how we love pumpkin season: 
Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin.... 
We anxiously anticipate it every year! 

Trader Joe’sFearless Flyer”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October’s Party

October gave a party;

The leaves by hundreds came —
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,

And leaves of every name.

The Sunshine spread a carpet,

And everything was grand,

Miss Weather led the dancing,

Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”
— George Cooper, “October’s Party”

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

In love with fall…

I love fall! Fall is exciting.

It’s apples and cider.

It’s an airborne spider.

It’s pumpkins in bins.

It’s burrs on dog’s chins.

It’s wind blowing leaves.

It’s chilly red knees.

It’s nuts on the ground.

It’s a crisp dry sound.

It’s green leaves turning

And the smell of them burning.

It’s clouds in the sky.

It’s fall. That’s why...

I love fall.
— Author Unknown

Friday, September 28, 2012

Canadian Bars

Today is National Good Neighbor Day.

It’s a day set aside to recognize and appreciate our good neighbors and to be one our selves. There are infinite ideas for celebrating this meaningful day — ranging from simply smiling and greeting our neighbors to organizing a block party for the whole neighborhood.

Simple or grandiose, it’s a time to get to know our neighbors a little better, perhaps to have them over for a meal or help them out in a special way. Wait — shouldn’t every day be a “good neighbor day”?

Contemplating this occasion prompted me to take the concept to a larger scale including our nation’s great neighbor — Canada. I fondly remember the Canadian Bars my mom used to make when we were growing up. From their rich, buttery, chocolate crust full of coconut and walnuts to an exquisite custard buttercream filling crowned by more chocolate, they are what confection dreams are made of.

In researching I learned their true name is Nanaimo Bars. What a fantastic “gift” from our neighbors to the north! CJK

Canadian Bars
(Carol Jessen-Klixbull)

1/2 cup butter, melted
5 tbsp. sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
(Photo by Nikki Rajala)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sweetened coconut (flaked or shredded)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

4 tbsp. butter, softened
3 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp. butter

Crust: Mix together melted butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg. Add crumbs, coconut and nuts. Place in 9-inch square pan and pack firmly.

Filling: In a separate bowl, blend butter, milk, pudding mix and powdered sugar. Spread over first layer. Cool at least 1 hour in refrigerator.

Topping: Microwave chocolate chips and butter uncovered in a small bowl (on medium-high power) for 30 seconds. Stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 10 to 15 seconds. Stir. (Or melt chocolate and butter in double boiler over hot, not boiling, water.)

Spread topping over filling, refrigerate until set (about 10 minutes). Score bars into 18 pieces. Return to refrigerator until chocolate is set (about 30 to 45 minutes). Cut into squares.

Yield: 18-25 bars

*A note from Carol: I deviated from the original recipe recently when I made these bars and used prepared Creamy Supreme Chocolate Fudge frosting for the topping instead of melting the chocolate and butter together. (Scrumptious!)

Also, this particular recipe contains a raw egg, which people in at-risk groups should avoid eating. In my research I’ve seen many other recipes for these distinctive bars including a couple in which the crust ingredients are cooked in a saucepan or double boiler and another where the crust is baked in the oven.