My friend Nancy Bea Cooper sent me via email the rules of Christmas. They’ve been around for a while, but they make me smile and I find some validity in them. Here are a few favorites:
>Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare. You can’t find it any other time of year. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two.
>Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
>If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
>As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
>If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not standalone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.These are just a few of the rules, and although each is somewhat over the top, they reinforce for me one of the true joys of the holidays — getting together and enjoying foods you may only have one time a year.
It was an old-fashioned girls’ night with Ann Clay Hanley hosting. Her rule, “Bring nothing; I’ll have plenty to eat.” She did. On her buffet was a shrimp dip I had never had. Explaining it to another friend she told me it is sometimes called a Shrimp Pizza.
This one was done in a tree-shaped dish and looked so festive.
Layer softened cream cheese mixed with some herbs or a bit of garlic salt.
Layer chunks of pre-cooked shrimp over cream cheese.
Spread the top with a good zesty shrimp sauce.
Sprinkle some cheddar cheese, chopped green onions and little slices of green olives. Serve with crackers.
Nancy Bea took pictures from our time together this year and made us all a desk calendar using the services of Vistaprint.
As we turned the pages of the calendar, we all laughed and reminisced about those fun times, and we now have a permanent keepsake for 2013.
My gift was candy and here’s one of the recipes. It’s the easiest candy you will ever make. You could even let your teenagers make this one.
Potato Chip Candy
- 3 cups of roughly crushed potato chips
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 8 squares of Baker’s White Chocolate or 12 ounces of Nestlé’s White chocolate Morsels.
(I made two recipes trying both chocolates and they worked great. You could do chocolate as well.)
The original recipe says to put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt the chocolate. I did my first batch this way. But I liked the way the chocolate melted better the second time putting the bowl over some simmering water.
Pour the crushed chips and chopped pecans into the melted chocolate. Mix gently, but well.
Drop the mixture by serving tablespoon onto a tray lined with wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator. Once chilled, they can be removed to containers.
Fun with old friends
For 15 years I have spent one whole day before Christmas with my dear friends from my department of education days, Shirley Williamson and Larry Davis. I do mean the whole day.
Shirley loves beer cheese and Sally Flynn had gifted me with several cartons of Captain Jack’s Beer Cheese, famously handmade by attorney Jack Flynn. Shirley had it here once and loved it. I gave her a carton.
In turn, Shirley gave me a copy of her recipe for beer cheese she has made for years, circa 1940.
Shirley’s Snappy Beer Cheese
- ½ pound sharp cheddar cheese grated
- 2 small Philly cream cheese, softened
- ½ tsp. Tabasco
- ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp. garlic salt
- ½ tsp. horseradish
- 2 tablespoons stale beer
Mix together and let set overnight.
Our gifts are always fun and clever. If you’re looking for some last minute stocking stuffers for the cook in your life consider some of these I received: a drizzling spoon, a copy of “Last Suppers of 12 Famous People,” a snowman apron, and two of the funniest gifts I have ever received — Macaroni and Cheese Band-Aids and a blow up fruit cake. The latter is now on my kitchen table on a cake pedestal.
Apologies to Judi Wilson
In the Dec. 11 edition, the chocolate bourbon cake recipe was attributed to Jane rather than Judi Wilson. I had the marvelous opportunity to eat and taste Wilson’s treats over the eight years I worked with her at the Governor’s Mansion.
If you kept the recipe, please be sure to change the attribution to give Judi the credit for it. And if you’ve lost yours, email me and I’ll send it to you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.