Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cindy's Christmas Project

I checked in with Cindy in the room next to where we knit and found her busily filling Christmas gift bags for the church's preschool. She shops all year for the presents; these bags were filled with art projects, cookie cutters, and other goodies. 

Every bag contained a special hand sewn Christmas-themed pillowcase, all made by Cindy and guaranteed to bring sweet dreams to the children nestled all snug in their beds...*

*A Visit from St. Nicholas

by Clement Clark Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house  
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;  
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,  
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;  
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;  
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,  
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,  
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,  
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,  
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.  
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow  
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,  
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,  
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,  
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.  
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,  
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!  
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!  
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!  
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”  
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;  
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,  
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.  
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof  
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,  
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.  
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,  
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;  
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.  
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!  
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!  
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow  
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,  
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;  
He had a broad face and a little round belly,  
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.  
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;  
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,  
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;  
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,  
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,  
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;  
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,  
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,  
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Our Christmas Party 2015

For those of you who were unable to be with us this year, please know that we miss you and wish you a very merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cathy's Salmon Spread

2 cups salmon (broiled, baked or canned)
1 8-ounce package low-fat cream cheese (Neufch√Ętel)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated onion
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (may use Worcester sauce)
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, almonds or pistachios
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Flake salmon and combine with cream cheese, lemon juice, onion, horseradish, liquid smoke, and pickle.  Mix well.  Put mixture in a serving bowl and top with nuts and parsley.  Chill well.
Serve as a spread with crackers or vegetables.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cathy's Savory Thumbprint Un-Cookies

The Un-Cookies

1/2 cup butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 - 2 tsp. red chile powder
Pinch of salt

Cream together the butter and cheese, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Form the dough into a long roll about one and a half inches in diameter. Wrap in foil, chill well for several hours.

Cut dough into slices about 3/4 inches thick. Place on greased cookie sheet, dent each slice gently with your thumb.

Bake at 250 F. for one hour. Remove from cookie sheet. While still warm, fill the thumbprints with Cranberry Chutney (recipe below).

Cranberry Chutney

(This will make several jars, giving you lots left after you've made the first batch of un-cookies).

4 lbs. cranberries, chopped

Chopped together:
1/2 lb. raisins
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup onion

2/3 cup finely chopped fresh ginger

Pinch of cayenne, or to taste (optional)
2 tbl. each red chile powder and mustard seed
1 tbl. salt
1 pint apple cider vinegar
1 - 1/2 lbs. brown sugar

Put all ingredients together in a stainless steel (NOT aluminum) pan. Simmer for one hour or until quite thick and brownish in color, stirring occasionally. 

Fill clean, hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Let jars cool well before storing in a cool, dark place.

You can always spot the well-loved recipes!


Notes from Clair Z.:

1. Here is a website with good information about processing in a hot water bath, especially if you don't have a water bath canner. See it here:

2. If you don't have a scale to weigh the brown sugar, here is a handy converter to help you get the right measurement:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Susan's Cat Basket

Sturdy handles allow for the possibility of carrying a basketful of cats
(but not Susan's cats)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015