Ah yes, Dec. 2. Even those of us who nearly failed eighth grade math can figure 23 days from now Santa will have arrived and the lights on the tree will shine more brightly on Christmas morning.
Traditions that never seem repetitious and get better each year are the blueprint for holiday activities. We hang the same old wreaths on the same doors and put the tree in the same corner, and adorn it with treasured decorations that just never get outdated.
The Christmas spirit is deep and meaningful at any age. Any day now the baking bug will bite. You may not bake as much as you once did, but I’ll bet you can’t get through the season without making at least one batch of cookies.
My incentive to bake began with a box that had been in the basement since I moved to the Farm House at Posey Lake in 1995. "Save Save Save" was printed on the top with a felt red marker. I knew it must be full of recipes. What else would I be so protective of?
Slowly and carefully I opened the box three weeks ago and at this writing have only about 100 more pieces of paper to go through. Because of the moisture and basement flooding, many articles were not salvageable, but there are enough to keep me entertained as new “saved” stacks build.
According to a telephone call from Jim Snyder of Blissfield, there are many more recipes on the horizon to sort. “I know you are a recipe lady, “ Mr. Snyder said. “ I want to give you all of my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes.” Mr. Snyder added that he had offered the keepsake collection to family members who declined. That’s a shame.
Recipes track culinary and family histories. Lo and behold, there were recipes in that beat-up box in the basement written by my mother and sent to me at The Blade when I became food editor just before her death in 1958. She always wanted to help and I am sure sending the recipes was her way of assisting me.
Included in the golden oldies was a feature on the Toledo Press Club Broadcast Sandwich. The late Al Hawkins three-day chili is on the same page.
Two recipes that I had given up ever finding were there. One is a $25,000 Pillsbury winner awarded in 1969 when crescent rolls were hot news. In this recipe the dough conceals a marshmallow that disappears in baking but leaves a sweet footprint.
The second recipe I had given up on is a fascinating twist to cabbage rolls. The ingredients are the same, but the cabbage leaves and meat and rice filling are assembled and cooked in a bundt pan in the microwave.
The recipe from the treasure box that I want to share 23 days before Christmas fits in with my annual fruitcake promotion. It’s a harder sell each year. Fruitcakes are definitely an age thing. Young people aren’t interested in even tasting one, let alone making one. Perhaps the traditional candied fruits baked into cookies will break the ice.
This recipe was a prizewinner in the 1978 Blade holiday recipe contest. It is credited to
Sister Mary Margaret Ann.
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup buttermilk or sour milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup each: raisins, candied fruit, cut up dates, halved candied cherries, and broken
Additional cherries and pecans for garnish
Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Stir in buttermilk or sour milk. Sift flour with salt and soda and mix into creamed mixture. Thoroughly stir in fruits and nuts. Chill dough at least an hour. Drop by rounded teaspoons about 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. If desired, top each with a pecan half or a red or green cherry half. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in 375-degree oven. Yields 8 dozen.