One of the best things about the holidays is keeping in touch with friends and family. It s also nice to hear what s been happening in Toledo s food community.
Six years ago, I wrote about a group of 19 local dads who get together the first Sunday of each December for their annual football, food, and cookie exchange. It s a way of keeping in touch with friends who grew up in the Archwood neighborhood of South Toledo.
A few weeks ago one of those dads, Joe Pasquinelli, sent me an e-mail: We are still getting together this is our 17th year.
On Dec. 4 the group gathered at Luther Lad Norris home in Holland. Each man brought 19 half-dozen cookies that they make themselves. Each half-dozen is pre-plated, pre-packaged in plastic bags, and tagged with the maker s name. At the end of the party, each man walks away with nine dozen cookies.
Through the years, the men s families have grown up. Our kids learned it s OK for dads to cook, says Mr. Pasquinelli, who brought chocolate chip cookies made with M&M candies.
Some recipes are complicated such as Ron Lamont s macarooon cookie. He says the secret to this classic cookie is good-quality coconut and he uses organic egg whites.
There were several versions of chocolate chip cookies; baklava made by Rick Uscilowski; John Collins oatmeal cranberry cookies, and oatmeal raisin cookies. Rick Henzler said he uses his 75 year-old mother s recipe for raisin spice cookies.
The line-up of holiday treats also included candy. Mr. Norris always makes classic Buckeye candies. Jim Stiles made cashew clusters and Jim Franckhauser made peanut clusters.
Throughout the afternoon there s plenty of food, including chili, potato leek soup, and quiche made by Mr. Norris. At the party, Mr. Lamont was slicing marinated grilled pork tenderloin.
The afternoon ends when the men sit in the family room and exchange cookies and candy. It s a holiday tradition they wouldn t miss.
Lad s Buckeyes
2 pounds powdered sugar
3 sticks butter
4 cups peanut butter
4 pounds dipping chocolate
Mix powdered sugar, butter, and peanut butter in a big mixing bowl. Refrigerate covered overnight. The next day make balls. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in double boiler. Using a toothpick, dip each ball in the chocolate, leaving a bit of peanut butter showing. Let set on parchment or wax paper.
Store in a cool place.
Source: Lad Norris
Take time to relax and enjoy the season with a traditional holiday tea. Teas are held Thursdays through Sundays in December at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Lobby Lounge of the Ritz Carlton, 1515 West Third St., Cleveland. Children s Tea Service is $12. Light Tea Service is $17. Full Tea Service is $21, and Royal Tea Service is $35. Menus include tea sandwiches, tea pastries such as scones with Devonshire cream, English tea breads, and a large selection of specialty teas, coffees, and beverages. Information: call 216-902-5255.
Food and wine
The 17th annual Boston Wine Festival will begin Jan. 13 and continue through April 7. It is an opportunity to enjoy wines around the world paired to fine cuisine prepared by Chef Daniel Bruce of the Boston Harbor Hotel. There are more than 50 wine and food pairing events including evening receptions, wine seminars, dinners and themed Sunday brunches.
Among the seasonal events are a Valentines Dinner Dance on Feb. 10, a Valentines Brunch on Feb. 12, and a Champagne Dinner Feb. 14.
For information and prices, visit www.bostonwinefestival.-net or call 888-660-WINE.