Archive for Christmas

Peppernuts!

This one is by a special request from my cousin Megan Challender. She has fond memories of making peppernuts with our grandmother, and gave them as favors at her recent wedding in September. She was hoping I could find the recipe. It took me a little while but I finally found an article just about peppernuts with multiple recipes. Though traditionally a Christmas cookie they can be made and enjoyed any time of year, as long as you have the time.

December 1981

Back in the olden days when I was a young teacher, new to teaching and new to Sedgwick, I was sometimes lonely, especially on weekends. Quaint as it may seem to the younger generations at that time teachers were required to spend three weekends a month in town.

Without a car, the time could get very long so when Daisy Congdon called one dreary day in early December and asked if I wanted to come help make pfeffernus I accepted with alacrity, even though I had no idea of what a pfeffernus was.

When I got to her house I found Daisy happily involved with a huge batch of brownish- colored dough and together we companionably spent the rest of the day rolling out the dough into sheets 1/4 inch thick and cutting out tiny pfeffernuses with a thimble and baking them.

After sampling the little cookie I became a lifelong devotee of the German cookie, pfeffernus or peppernuts as they are called in English. The Christmas season hasn’t really arrived here on Emma Creek until the peppernuts are baked. But I don’t cut them out with a thimble anymore.

Peppernuts

3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cup shortening

3 eggs

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1 cup dark syrup 1 cup sour cream (not the kind used for dip)

1/2 teaspoon anise oil

Or

1 teaspoon ground star anise

1 1/2 teaspoons soda

9 to 10 cups flours

Beat eggs, sugar and shortening. Add cream and syrup.

Sift dry ingredients. Combine with first mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

Make dough into long rolls. Cut. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to over bake.

This recipe makes 1 gallon. Store in a closed container. Can be kept a year if you forget where you stored them.

Black Walnut Peppernuts

2 1/2 cups sugar

3 beaten eggs

1 tablespoon white syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 cup butter

1 cup chopped black walnuts

1 teaspoon soda

5 cups flour

Cream sugar, butter, and syrup. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients. Add to first mixture. Stir in nuts. Roll into ropes and freeze.

Cut into thin slices. Put on buttered cookie sheet and bake 350 degrees until pale brown.

Grandmother Hiebert’s Peppernuts (Halstead)

3 cups white sugar

3 cups brown sugar

1 cup walnuts, chopped fine

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup butter or lard

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon anise

1 teaspoon baking powder

9 to 10 cups flour

Combine sugars, butter, and eggs. Sift dry ingredients. Add nuts. Chill.

Make into ropes. Cut and bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees until pale tan. Cool and store.

German Peppernuts

1 1/2 cups honey

1/4 cup butter

1 egg

4 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

3/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon finely crushed anise seed

Honey Glaze

Heat honey in 4-quart pan. Stir in butter. Cool. Beat the egg into honey mixture.

Sift dry ingredients. Add anise seed. Stir into honey mixture. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Shape dough into 3/4 inch diameter balls. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. The cookies should be only faintly browned at edges. Cool.

Glaze cookies by pouring 2 tablespoons of glaze over 15 to 20 cookies in a bowl and mixing. Place on waxed paper. When cool store in covered container. These are chewy. 8 dozen.

Honey Glaze

2 eggs whites

1 tablespoon honey

2 cups powdered sugar

Combine unbeaten egg whites and honey. Add sugar and blend.

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Christmas is over and the New Year is coming

It’s time to get ready for the new year.

 

December 1982

 

The Christmas company has come and gone. The grownups are quietly aware that another Christmas season of their alloted number on earth is over.

The grandchildren have gone home, hugging the Christmas toys in their arms – so tired from fun and excitement they were asleep before the car got out of the driveway.

The Christmas tree, a sprangly cedar from the pasture on Emma Creek, has been stripped of its glimmering cascade of silver icicles, out by the horseshoe court awaiting death in a blazing bonfire.

The Kodak pictures that will lock this specific Christmas holiday in the panorama of the years are not back from the developer.

The refrigerator sits quietly in the kitchen, stuffed to the brim with leftovers. By the time they are gone New Years will be here.

It will be time to make unkeepable resolutions for the coming year. Time to watch, with friends and family, the old year out. Time to bid it farewell with a tear and a smile and turn our energy toward making the next year the best year ever.

 

*****

 

Black Walnut Cookies

 

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons water

1 pound brown sugar

3 cups sifted flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/2 cup chopped black walnuts

 

Beat eggs until thick. Gradually add sugar. Beat for 15 minutes. Sift dry ingredients. Add walnuts. Carefully add to egg mixture. Blend until well combined. Form into balls. Place an inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. These puff during baking and crackle on top when done. 12 dozen cookies.

 

Chocolate Chip Meringues

 

2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks forms. Gradually beat in sugar, vinegar and vanilla. Continue beating until very stiff.

Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonful on greased baking sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on racks.

 

Quick Gingersnaps

 

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon cloves

 

Cream first four ingredients. Sift dry ingredients. Stir into first mixture. Form into small balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake on greased sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

 

Cherry Cookies

 

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries

 

Cream first four ingredients. Sift dry ingredients. Add to first mixture. Fold in vanilla, nuts and cherries. Form into rolls. Wrap in waxed paper.

Refrigerate overnight. Slice and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Leave a comment »

Enjoy the Holidays

Don’t forget to slow down and enjoy Christmas.

 

December 1982

 

Have a happy holiday. Relax and enjoy yourself. If all the handcrafted Christmas gifts you were making aren’t completed toss them in a closet and bring them out to finish next year. This takes a strong will, but it is better than going without sleep in order to get done and then being grouchy on the best day of the whole year.

I wish I’d followed this advice when our children were little. Joy says she always remembers me being cross on important days. Even though I remember staying up half the night to finish a doll’s wardrobe, from swimming suit to pajamas to coat, my daughter’s memory is of a cross momma instead of the gift I worked so hard over.

So if you need more Christmas cookies try some of these easy recipes. The peanut butter ones can made in 30 minutes. The others take less than an hour.

 

Peanut Butter Cookies (Flourless)

 

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon soda

 

Mix all the ingredients. Roll the mixture into small balls. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

 

Cookie Pralines

 

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg, separated

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups chopped pecans

 

Cream butter, sugar, and egg yolk. In larger bowl beat egg whites stiff. Add first mixture. Sift in flour and salt. Add pecans. Gently fold in all these additions.

Drop by a teaspoon into high mounds on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until brown.

A cookie praline is a cross between a cookie and a candy. Store in airtight container.

 

Easy Frosted Cookies

 

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Topping:

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream

 

Cream first four ingredients. Sift dry ingredients. Mix together. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on greased baking sheet. Make a depressions in center of each cookie.

Mix topping. Put a teaspoonful in the depression. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until a golden brown.

 

Date Bars

 

1 cup sugar

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 8-ounce package dates

1/4 cup sour cream – This sour cream is not cultured sour cream. Take plain whipping cream and add a 1/2 a teaspoon vinegar to sour it to produce the sour cream for this recipe.

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

3 egg whites, well beaten

Powdered sugar

 

Mix ingredients in order given. Add egg whites last. Bake at 350 degrees in an 8 x 8 inch pan for 30 minutes. Cut while warm and roll in powdered sugar.

 

Leave a comment »

Christmas Cleaning Proves a Snap

How much do you do to get ready for Christmas?

 

December 1989

 

Christmas Cleaning Proves a Snap

 

In the November 11th issue of The Kansan my attention was caught by the headline “Holiday cleaning a snap with right methods.” Now here was a story after my own heart because if there is anything I need right now, just before Christmas, it is learning how to make housecleaning a snap.

In the past the only snap in housecleaning for me has been the snap in my back when I sink to my knees to scrub the kitchen floor. But I pride myself on being open to new ideas, so before I pass judgment on this new snap method of housecleaning. I’d better give it a try.

Reading on I found the first item of instruction was what to do if the guests were on their way and you discover a chip or two in your best crystal.

“Don’t panic,” was the advice, “just use emery paper on the small chips and nicks – use the finest grade available, moisten and rub over the chip until it smooths out.” This sounds sensible so I decided to try it. But first, I had to locate my best crystal (also, my only crystal). After a search I found it hiding behind a miscellaneous assortment of plastic cups and jelly glasses on a top shelf. It passed inspection with a lovely variety of chips that qualified for the smoothing out process.

Now, where was the emery paper? I located some sandpaper, but the article warned against using that – too rough, it said. Finally I discovered a circular piece of paper that I recalled having seen used on an emery wheel a long time ago. With high hopes I set to work. A half an hour later the nicks were still there but the skin had disappeared from the tips of my fingers.

One of the next enumerated jobs called for cleaning the outside of the house with a pressure washer spray that powers off dirt and grime. I sallied forth to check the outside of the house. My spirits lifted. “This will be a snap.” I said, “as soon as I find a pressure washer.”

Years ago we had one for cleaning the milking barn and it worked great when it worked. Now that I needed it I couldn’t find it so I decided to get through the holidays with an unwashed exterior rather than spend the money I had earmarked for Christmas presents for the grandkids on a new pressure sprayer.

Anyway, with my luck if I had the exterior walls of the house immaculate the Christmas Day weather would be too snowy and cold for the guests to gather around the outside of the house and exclaim, “Isn’t this siding the cleanest in all of Harvey County? Not a speck of dust on it.”

I turned my attention back to the paper and read the paragraph about cleaning the fireplace so Santa Claus could step out of it on Christmas morning with all his fur white and shining. Now I don’t have an authentic fireplace, but I do have an open fire in a Franklin stove and I’m sure Santa would not emerge spanking clean from the chimney no matter what gigantic cleaning feat I attempted. No use to try. So it looks like Santa will just have to fly back to the North Pole and put on a fresh suit of clothes after he makes his visit here.

The next instructions for snap cleaning called for shining up the household brass (doorknobs, etc.). They were tantalizingly simple – just use a lemon rind dipped in a little salt, rinse and buff before applying a coat of wax. Feeling a bit tired from all of the decisions I had been making I decided to sit down and make a glass of lemonade out of the juice of the lemon, before the rind and I went to work. When we did, I discovered my brass door knobs were too old to take a shine so I abandoned the lemon rind to the garbage disposal.

Now the final activity before the coming of Christmas was a speedy cleaning of the crystal chandelier in the living room. The directions were to cover each light bulb with a plastic bag securing it with a rubber band before spraying the pendants with glass cleaner. The zing of the rubber band snapping on to the neck of the light bulb might qualify as the elusive snap or the snap might be the housewife’s neck as she fell off the stepladder while stretching to get each pendant covered with spray.

Suddenly, I made a snap decision. If I did all this snap cleaning I’d have to forego buying the Christmas presents, writing notes on the Christmas cards and making the peanut brittle, tea balls and peppernuts that are family traditions. I’d never have the time or strength left to put up and decorate the Christmas tree or go to the Christmas programs or read the grandchildren the story of that long ago night in Bethlehem when Christ was born.

So I’m canceling cleaning the house by the snap method for now. Maybe, next year.

Leave a comment »