The holidays have been a blur! I barely had time to make everything I did – finding time to blog about it was truly impossible. I didn’t want to give all my Christmas gifts away beforehand anyway. Now all the gifts have been given and I’m free to blog about them!
Along with the Lemon Curd, I gave Lavender Oat Cakes and jars of the tea pictured above. Sort of a tea party in a box…the tea is a mixture of Jasmine Tea, Lemon Verbena, Rose Petals, and Lavender Flowers. It was extremely fragrant and flowery – definitely a feminine blend, but delicious just the same!
The oat cakes are a Scottish recipe, I think. I remember them from when I was a kid.
The main ingredient is blended oats (pictured above.) Here’s the entire recipe:
3 Cups Blended Oats
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Scalded Milk or Table Cream
Mix Oatmeal, Flour, and Salt. Cut in Butter with hands. Dissolve Soda in Hot Milk (I used half and half,) and add to dry mixture. Roll to 1/8-1/4 inch thick. I used a glass to get the round shape. Bake in moderate oven (325-250) for 10 minutes. The hardest part about the recipe is rolling out the dough. It’s pretty dry and cracky, but I had it down by the last batch!
I added some lavender to the dough make them a little fancier. They were really good – crispy and not too sweet. The went perfectly with the Lemon Curd!
I packed them in cellophane, tissue paper, and in tins. Very pretty!
I also made Chocolate Covered Brandied Cherries.
These Cherries had been soaking in Brandy since July of 2006! We had an amazing glut of Cherries that summer, and I wanted to preserve some. Brandied Cherries seemed like a good idea, but we never used them. Their alcohol content was a little scary by this point! The dark ones are Bings and the light ones are Raniers.
After draining the Cherries, the first step was to coat them with this mixture of powdered sugar, water, and Cherry Brandy. It makes a Play-Dough like substance. You make a ball out of the sugar mixture……
….flatten it into a thin disc…..
and wrap it around the Cherry.
Then you let them cool for a half hour or so in the fridge. Then I double dipped them in chocolate, but that was just too messy to take pictures of! They were a little overwhelming in your mouth, but delicious none the less!
Last, but not least, I made this trail mix – mostly for my brother, who is a student and sometimes forgets to eat. Chocolate Chips, Almonds, Pistachios, Salted Cashews, Pumpkin Seeds, Banana Chips, Raisins, and tiny little pieces of Crystallized Ginger. Not exactly healthy, but it’s all organic and not too unhealthy….
Before I left to go home for Christmas, we ate the last of the local broccoli. It was really dark green, and really good. It’s frosted a few times here this fall, but nothing too heavy. We rarely get a hard frost, even in the winter. The hardest part about growing things in the winter here is that there’s just not enough daylight hours for things to put on much growth. Plants tend to survive, but just sit there without growing. Anyway, this broccoli was delicious! It was the last available from the local farm who supplies the Co-op, but I’m sure there’s home gardeners out there who will be eating it year round.
OK, now just a few pictures from Christmas in Wisconsin. I was home for about a week visiting family. Madison is drowning in snow!
I forgot to bring my camera, but my brother was good enough to take a few….
These are the last tomatoes my Mom had picked before the frost killed the plants in November. They were mostly rotten, but I managed to salvage a a little for our salad. She had been keeping them in the basement…..
This is the Coffee Cake she made for Christmas brunch. I should have watched more carefully how she shaped it…. It’s filled with a raisin/brown sugar mixture. Mmmmm….reminds me of childhood….
Here’s the Brunch spread: Coffee Cake, Roasted Potatoes, (with rosemary, garlic, and capers!) 3 kinds of quiche, a citrus-y fruit salad, a green salad, and don’t forget the catchup! The whole thing was truly delicious – a good variety of flavor and texture, but somehow it all complemented itself really well.
Christmas dinner was Guinness Beef Stew made chiefly by my brother and I. My mom made Irish Brown Bread and Salad to go with it, and my Step-dad made Cheese Cake for dessert. It was quite a scene as we all tried to cook in the same smallish kitchen!
We dredged the beef in a little flower and browned it. We set that aside and cooked onions, carrots, and potatoes in the meat drippings. We poured 2 cans of Guinness in and let it cook for a while. We asked Mom what spices she thought would be Irish, and surprisingly, she said she remembered Curry in the food when she visited Ireland. We decided to give it a try and added just a smidgen of Curry Powder, Salt, Pepper, and Bay Leaves, added the Beef again and some Beef Stock and let the whole thing cook down.
This is just the vegetables in beer. I don’t have a picture of the finished stew, but I have to say, I was pretty proud of it. It was thick and rich and meaty – very hearty, and perfect for a cold Christmas night with my family of Irish descendants. The Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, and Beef were all local, I believe. Thank goodness for root crops, meat, and dairy! Without them life in the upper Mid-West would have been impossible a hundred years ago.
That’s it – Happy New Year!