Monthly Archives: December 2014

S’wonderful

S Cookies

No, not scookies, or even s’cookies, but S cookies.

Cookies in the shape of an S.

Stella D'Oro Breakfast Treats are technically an S cookies - but these aren't the ones I mean. This time.

Stella D’Oro Breakfast Treats are technically an S cookies – but these aren’t the ones I mean. This time.

And being Italian, there’s more then one….

S cookies - almond

S cookies – almond

S anisecookies

S cookies – anise

S cookies....I've already lost track and we're not even out of the A varieties....

S cookies….I’ve already lost track and we’re not even out of the ‘A’  varieties….

The cookies I’m taking about are also known as Susameille. Or Susamelli.  Or Suziemella. Or Suzie Cookies.

susamielli

Real Susameille are a honey of a cookie

These are my favorite cookies of the Christmas Season. I’ve discovered several versions of them and several versions of the back-story as well.  First, a cookbook version.

Suziemella

(Suzie Cookies)

 

15 oz blackstrap molasses

1 cup oil

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp black pepper

5 whole orange rinds, grated (about ½ cup)

6-7 cups flour

1 cup filberts, sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease baking sheets.
  2. Mix molasses, oil, egg, sugar, salt, pepper and orange rinds. Blend well.
  3. Add flour to form a dough that can be rolled.
  4. Oil fingers. Take pieces of dough and roll like a pencil.
  5. Shape rolls into a 4-5” S
  6. Place a sliced filbert on the top and bottom of the S.
  7. Bake about 15 minutes, until just brown.

These are great wine ‘dunkers.’

Origin: Carmela Derrico

From Anna Tosti Goodman, Lake Worth/Boynton Beach Lodge #2304. In Preserving Our Italian Heritage. A Cookbook. Sons of Italy Florida Foundation. 1991.p. 178.

Preserving our Italian HeritageAccording to some sources (and these guys are all cut and pasting each other), Susameillas

are traditional Neapolitan Christmas cookies,also in Ischia, so close enough to Gaeta, that this is the place

and are S-shaped (that much we’ve got)

For two possible reasons:(I think they mean for one of two possible reasons)

First, in the past they were called sesamielli, and covered with sesame seeds.

But where else do sesame seeds show in the dolci of Gaeta?

Sesame seeds  – semi di sesamo

susamielli with seasame

S cookies with sesame

Second, they were (and are) called Sapienze, because they were made by nuns of the Monastero della Sapienza.

This is already longer and more confusing then I want it to be. And there’s more. My back-story version.

  1. These are the cookies that my Auntie Anna made at Christmas. She’s the one who passed the recipe down to various of us.
  2. Auntie Anna got the recipe from my Nonna. These were the cookies she used to make. Please note: Nonna died before I was was two, so I only know Auntie Anna’s version.
  3. Working with honey can be tricky. Auntie Anna’s recipe gave all the right ingredients, but technique is something else altogether.
  4. Auntie Anna’s brother Cosmos LOVES these cookies, and since his birthday is December, his wife Jane has been making these cookies for decades as well.
  5. Jane’s version appeared in Lo Specchio, the newsletter of the ITALIAN GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA  back in Summer 2001. The version I’m using is based on one Auntie Anna shared with me, and my cousin Flora, and Flora and I talked together and then I made them some more….

Susamelli

1 Lb. honey

1 bottle light molasses (Grandma’s unsulphured)

1/2 cup oil

½ oz almond extract

2 tangerines (preferably organic)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

6 C flour

Almond halves

  1. In a large bowl, mix liquid ingredients together.
  2. Wash and peel tangerines. Cut peel into small dice and add to liquid ingredients.
  3. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Gradually add the dry mixture to the liquid one until it is all well blended.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°.
  7. Shape dough by rolling walnut sized pieces between oiled hands (I fill a small saucer with oil to dip my palms in – think Kim Kardashian backside oiled…pretty slick indeed) and shape into an S.
  8. Put on a prepared cookie sheet – We’ve been using the no stick Reynolds wrap to good success- these can bake up sticky. Put three almond halves in the crooks.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes at 350.
  10. They shouldn’t brown – just be firm.
  11. Yields 2 ½ dozen

From my Auntie Anna, more or less, and commentary from just about everyone else.

susameile with almonds

This is from a bakery in Connecticut – I didn’t realize the 2 images were joined. By next Christmas I will be taking my own pictures!

Any way you try them, S Cookies  are S’wonderful!

Have a honey of a New Year!

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Cinnamon Rollin’

Christmas is when you need the familiar, the comfortable and the delicious.

Cinnamon rolls  to the rescue!

But not just ANY rolls, no, these are special rolls.

From an old family recipe  – from my son’s other side, in memory of Grandma B. Her family had put together a cookbook, so we had actual recipes to work with.

Everyone loved Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls, so they are a sweet remembrance of her.

This is a Swedish Kanelbulle, which is the family of cinnamon rolls that Grandma had made. Notice that there is no icing. Believe you me, they don't need it!

This is a Swedish Kanelbulle, which is in the family of cinnamon rolls that Grandma had made. Notice that there is no icing. Believe you me, they don’t need it!

Cinnamon Rolls

All ingredients from white yeast bread

Cinnamon

Sugar

Butter

Follow all instructions for “White Yeast Bread” through the first paragraph.

Cut dough into 2 portions. Roll one into a rectangle and cut in half lengthwise. Combine sugar and cinnamon until it’s the color of cinnamon toast. Melt butter and add sugar mixture, keeping sugar wet but not too runny, Spread over dough not solid but not too sparsely. Cut into 1 inch strips. Roll and lay on the side in a greased pan. Be sure to leave pans that leave no extra space.   Cover the ½ of the dough and repeat, until all dough is gone. Allow to rise, covered, for one hour. Bake at 400° for approximately 30 minutes. Cover with foil if browning too fast. Top with butter after removing from oven.

White Yeast Bread

1 pkg. yeast  – I buy  yeast in bulk – by the jar or by the pound and store it in the freezer. I use a yeast measure spoon

Yeast Measure spoon - I got mine from King Arthur Flour. You can order a pound of yeast from them for less then the little bitty jar in the grocery store and do a whole lot more baking. I keep a pound of dry yeast in a 1 quart wide-mouth mason jar in the freezer.

Yeast Measure spoon – I got mine from King Arthur Flour. You can order a pound of yeast from them for less then the little bitty jar in the grocery store and do a whole lot more baking. I keep a pound of dry yeast in a 1 quart wide-mouth mason jar in the freezer.

¼ c. water

2 c. scalded milk (whole milk)

2 T. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1 T. shortening (we used butter)

6 c. flour (King Arthur Flour white)

Soften yeast in warm water (110°). Combine hot milk, sugar, salt and shortening. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups flour; beat well. Add yeast; mix. ( add the rest of the flour) Shape into a ball; place in a greased bowl and turn over, cover; let rise about 1 ½ hours. Punch down. Let rise another 45 minutes.

Cut dough into 2 portions. Shape each into a ball and let rise for 10 minutes. Shape into loaves and put into greased loaf pans. Allow to rise 1 hour. Bake at 400° for approximately 35 minutes. Cover with foil if browning too fast. Top with butter after removing from oven. Makes 2 loaves.

Am Moak, p. 29. family cookbook

More notes from 2014 – what we did (more or less)

  • Figured on a double double –we wanted 3 9×13 plus 2 9×9 – made 3 9×13 plus 3 9×9 AND 2 loaves of white bread plus buns for me …..
  • A double double is a whole lotta buns!
  • We figured a double as 2 9×13 trays
  • Used the paper baking pans…..they were firmer then the disposable aluminum and they had lids, making them great for transport.  And no washing up or worrying about getting them back.
  • Dark brown sugar – light brown would have worked, too.
  • Lots of butter
  • 1 loaf = 1 9×13 or 2 9” pans (we thought)
  • We also made 2 loaves because rolls seemed to go on forever.

23 Dec 2014

1 pm begin – 5:15 is wrap – he took home one large and 2 small trays as well as 2 loaves white bread; I have the 2 large and 1 small tray to take to Pembroke.

Heat 4 C milk

12 C flour

2 packet yeast (the magic yeast spoon) w/ ½ C water

4 T sugar

4 t salt

Mix together. Knead until smooth. Let raise 2 hrs

2 ½ sticks butter, melted

  • 2 # brown sugar
  • 2C white sugar 2 oz cinnamon a little rum

for a double

We did this twice; the second time, with the wicked cheap $1.29 a 2 ½ oz bottle of cinnamon was better – either we’ve grown accustomed to cassia or it just works better with fat and alcohol.

There was a little left over for my own Xmas morning buns.

Notes on the paper pans – they caught fire – but just a little. Everyone was very calm and just put the little fire out. I’m currently in the market for nonstick 9x13s that have covers. Problem solved.

paper baking pans - don't let them touch the sides of the oven. It said don't use over 425 and we didn't. I keep them in the 350 range. Should I ever use them again. Probably NOT.

Paper baking pans – don’t let them touch the sides of the oven. It said don’t use over 425 and we didn’t. I would keep them in the 350 range. Should I ever use them again. Probably NOT.

Rollin’ in a River of Cinnamon Love

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The Cool Cookies

On this the third day of Christmas…   the cookie days of Christmas continue

Then there are a whole category of cookies that involve no baking and very little cooking. The Refrigerator Cookie.

The Cool Cookies.

I don't remember how I came to have this book, I just know that I do. And I've baked cookies from it. And have not-baked  from it. Mrs. Fields Cookie Book 100 recipes from the Kitchen of Mrs. Fields 1992 from Time-Life Books

I don’t remember how I came to have this book, I just know that I do. And I’ve baked cookies from it. And have not-baked from it.
Mrs. Fields Cookie Book
100 recipes from the Kitchen of Mrs. Fields
1992 from Time-Life Books

The Refrigerator Thumb Print cookie is a cookie I have not-baked. Raspberry jelly is the jelly that is called for, which is SUCH an ’80’s thing I may never be able to eat the chocolate/raspberry combo again.Although my sister made some raspberry jelly…..

And since the chocolate called for is in chip form, and there are so many chip options, my imagination has gone a little wild with this.

Of the chocolate chip family,  there are bags in range from 12 to 10 oz. (a few a 11 or 11.5 – honestly – 11.5??????? You can’t go to 12?) so you may need to make some minor adjustments. If I did they were so minor that I didn’t record them. Or remember them.

choc chip bag

Semi-sweet

choc chip dark bag

Dark – and there are lots of brands now, it’s not just Nestle

White

White

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

The secret ingredient is  QUICK OATS. Not to be confused instant or old fashioned  rolled. Oats.

Quaker-Oats-4321

Quaker went to the round box in 1915 - how were they selling oats before that?????

Quaker went to the round box in 1915 – how were they selling oats before that????? Each answer just generates more questions.

Quaker introduce Quick Oats in 1922 - even then people were looking for a quick and easy breakfast food

Quaker introduced Quick Oats in 1922 – even then people were looking for a quick and easy breakfast food. The box hasn’t changed a lot in all that time, although Larry, the Quaker Man, had gotten an update.

..

Refrigerator Cookies Suite

The Basic Chocolate  Overture

The Dark Chocolate Sonatas

The PB&J Coda

The White Chocolate Finale

 

The Basic Chocolate  (Overture)

¼ cup (half stick) butter

½ cup heavy cream

1 cup white sugar

2 cups (12 oz. bag) semi – sweet chocolate chips

1tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ cup quick (NOT Instant) oatmeal

1 cup well flavored fruit preserves (what do YOU like with chocolate? Apricot, Orange marmalade, cherry, ginger marmalade, cranberry jelly, seedless raspberry, (chocolate and raspberry is such and ‘80’s combo I don’t feel I need ever go there again…)…use what you have or get what you like!

  1. Combine butter, cream and sugar in a 2 Q saucepan. Warm over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips, 1 cup at a time, stirring so that they melt. Add the vanilla.
  3. Add the oats and stir until all combined. This is the dough.
  4. Shape the dough to 1” balls (I use a tablespoon) and place on a lined cookie sheet – something no-stick, like wax paper or a silicon sheet. They’re not going into the oven so it doesn’t have to be heat proof.
  5. Flatten the cookies either with the bottom of a glass or your impeccably clean fingers to be about 2” in diameter.
  6. Make a depression in the center of each cookie with your thumb (that’s why they’re called Thumbprint) – that’s where the jelly or the jam is going to go.
  7. Chill the cookies in the fridge for ½ hour or so until they’re set.
  8. Spoon ½ teaspoon of preserves/jam/ sweet stuff into each thumbprint.
  9. Try not to eat them all as you make them…finger lickin’ good!

 

The Dark Chocolate Sonatas

¼ cup (half stick) butter

½ cup heavy cream

1 cup white sugar

2 cups (10 oz. bag) dark chocolate chips

1tsp almond extract

2 cups quick (NOT Instant) oatmeal

¼ cup sweetened flake coconut

¼ cup slivered almonds

Melt, mix,drop by spoonfuls, flatten, fridge and enjoy – very much like an Almond Joy

almond-joy-candy-bar-35486

The PB&J Coda

¼ cup (half stick) butter

½ cup heavy cream

1 cup white sugar

2 cups (12 oz. bag) peanut butter chips

1tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ cup quick (NOT Instant) oatmeal

Grape jelly

 Melt, mix, drop, make a thumbprint, chill and add jelly.

Peanut-Butter-Jelly-Sandwich

The White Chocolate X-Mas Finale

¼ cup (half stick) butter

½ cup heavy cream

1 cup white sugar

2 cups (12 oz. bag) white chocolate chips

1tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ cup quick (NOT Instant) oatmeal

Maraschino cherries, 1 jar

Mint jelly (the green stuff)

Melt, mix, chop the cherries and add. Drop by spoonfuls and make a thumbprint. Add the mint jelly and think of White Christmas – the song and the movie

Can't you see them all munching on these cookies after the finale?

Can’t you see them all munching on these white chocolate  cookies after the finale?

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Merry Christmas to All

A Hymn on the Nativity of My Savior

I sing the birth was born tonight,
The Author both of life and light;
The angels so did sound it,
And like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light, and were afraid,
Yet searched, and true they found it.

The Son of God, the eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
And freed the soul from danger;
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Word, which heaven and earth did make,
Was now laid in a manger.

The Father’s wisdom willed it so,
The Son’s obedience knew no “No,”
Both wills were in one stature;
And as that wisdom had decreed,
The Word was now made Flesh indeed,
And took on Him our nature.

What comfort by Him do we win?
Who made Himself the Prince of sin,
To make us heirs of glory?
To see this Babe, all innocence,
A Martyr born in our defense,
Can man forget this story?

Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

 Benjamin Jonson by Abraham van Blyenberch

Ben Johnson c. 1617 by Abraham van Blyenberch

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Meatless Monday in Hurry

Sometimes….

like when it’s near , say, a holiday that has a major food component, time seems scarce…..only because it’s being filled up with the Everyday as well as the Holiday….and you suddenly realize that although the food for a certain day that is not today is planned, shopped and prepped, today, TODAY is a meal short.

Right NOW.

Do not be drawn to the arches of gold.MacD archesYou will not be lovin’ it.

You will add guilt and indigestion to an already full week.

INSTEAD do a really jiffy quick trip to the store to pick up a few pantry staples. Staples that can also be on hand for the later then last minute eats to take or serve, will also serve you. Soon.

Nachos.

This is the sort of glop that often passes for nachos. Do not be fooled - this is not nachos.

This is the sort of glop that often passes for nachos. Do not be fooled – this is not nachos. These are not nachos? Ponder the singular/ pleural conundrum that is nachos. Or not.

Nachos Now with Beans

8 ounces tortilla chips (you could make your own, which are zippy fast and really good, but this is not the time for that. Somebody’s hungry!)

1 pound shredded cheddar cheese (4 cups)   (The bag sort is fine here because of everything else going on)

2 large jalapeño chiles (3/4 ounce each), sliced thin (about 1/4 cup) (or a can of chopped green chiles, with jarred jalapeño slices on the side)

Refried beans, a can

2 scallions, sliced thin

1/2 cup sour cream (4 ounces) and/or an avocado or packaged guacamole

Jar of Paul Newman Salsa ( my favorites are Pineapple and Tequila Lime)

1 lime cut into 6 wedges

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 °.
  2. Grate or shred the cheese if you bought a block and not a bag.
  3. Slice the jalapeno chiles and the scallions separately – tiny pieces!
  4. Spread half of chips in even layer in 13- by 9-inch baking dish
  5. Sprinkle evenly with 2 cups cheese and half of jalapeno slices.
  6. Drop about 6 oz of the re fried beans by spoonful across the cheesy landscape.
  7. Repeat with remaining chips, cheese, beans and jalapenos.
  8. Bake until cheese is melted, 7 to 10 minutes.
  9. Remove nachos from oven, cool 2 minutes, and then sprinkle with scallions.
  10. Along edge of nachos, drop scoops of sour cream, avocado, guacamole and salsa.
  11. Cut the lime into wedges.
  12. Serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately to squeeze on top.
  13. I have been know to make this in my little Pyrex baker for one…it breaks down. The trick is to not eat the chips alone. I look for unsalted chips or low salt. There’s plenty of taste in the cheese and the salsa and the jalapenos….

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated July 2002

CI ja02_nachos_article

Nacho done right Cook’s Illustrated style – they make their own guac and salsa, which can be done speedily IF you have a good avocado and good tomatoes – it’s the shopping time the prepared stuff saves you. Everyone should a 15 minute meal or 2 up their sleeve. One that isn’t a bowl of cereal, that is.

CI jul02

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Gingerbread – a few recipes

There really are charts of gingerbread recipes. Here are some highlights.

17th century – honey based.

Coarse gingerbread.

Take a quart of honey clarified, and seethe it till it be brown, and if it be thick put to it a dish of water; then take fine crumbs of white bread grated, and put to it, and stir it well, and when it is almost cold, put to it powder of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and a little liquorice and aniseeds; then knead it, and put it into moulds and print it; some use to put to it also a little pepper, but that is according to taste and pleasure.

Gervase Markham, The English Housewife, Best ed, 1614. p. 120.

gingerbread mold med Aachen_Printen_1

Molds to print gingerbread in – 17th century

gingerbread Lebkuechner_Landauer

18th century molasses based

Molasses Gingerbread

One table spoon cinnamon, some coriander or allspice, put to four tea spoons pearl ash, dissolved in half pint water, four pound flour, one quart molasses, four ounces butter (if in summer rub in the butter, if in winter warm the butter and molasses and pour to the spiced flour), knead it well ’till stiff’ the more the better, the lighter and whiter it will be; bake brisk fifteen minutes; don’t scorch;  before it is put in, wash it with whites and sugar beat together.

-Amelia Simmons. American Cookery. 1796. p. 36.

Molasses gingerbread still popular in the early 20th century

Molasses gingerbread still popular in 1935

19th century sugar based

Fairy Gingerbread

One cup butter, two cups sugar, four cups flour, three-quarters of a teaspoon soda, one tablespoon ginger. Cream butter and sugar very light, add ginger, milk, soda and flour. Turn baking pans upside down and spread the mixture very thin on them. Bake in a moderate oven, Cut into squares while hot.

The Trip-hammer Cookbook, Kingston Mass., 1894.

NOTE: When I saw the ‘fairy’ in the title (back in the ’80’s) the first thing I thought of were fairy cakes, as in teeny tiny cupcakes. So in my mind, my impression of this recipe was that it was a good plain gingerbread that should be made into to small cupcakes and that spread it thin on the the back of the pan stuff….and it also makes a really good loaf cake, sliced and served with applesauce and or whipped cream or even a pouring custard.And the Cook’s Country did a story….

Fairy Gingerbread is the cover story.....that's those graham cracker looking things. Not a loaf after all!

Fairy Gingerbread is the cover story…..that’s those graham cracker looking things. Not a loaf after all! And the bottom of the pan makes sense.

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Gingerbread. Man

A confectionery tale

Once upon a time, in a time not so very long ago, a messenger or two brought glad tidings of great joy.

“Oh, Yoo-Hoo, Oftabakin! In a village nearby The Historical Society shall soon choose the best gingerbread. Send your gingerbread as the best.”

Man, oh man, replied Oftabakin. Cakewalk.

And over the clatter of baking pans in and out of the oven, much like the clatter of hooves of twelve tiny reindeer on the roofs, Oftabakin heard ‘historical’ and ‘gingerbread’ and as these were great words, among her favorite words, she smiled with delight. For like ‘chocolate’ and ‘peanut butter’, some great words are even more great together.

So she cleaned up the kitchen and got out the historical books and the gingerbread books and made a study of historical gingerbread.

She discovered all sorts of strange and wonderful ways to spell gingerbread:

Blah blah blah

She found that honey was very common and then – like magic – sugar replaced it, only to later be replaced by molasses. Except that sugar never went completely away and in some places and cases came back stronger than ever.

That not all gingerbread had ginger in it.

Whodathunkit.

That gingerbread was pressed and rolled and cut and caked and iced and frosted and gilded, served hot and cold and could be crispy/crunchy or soft and even gooey.

The more she studied gingerbread the more fascinating it became.

And so Oftabakin made lists and notes in margins and scribbled on different colored sticky papers and stuck the papers out of the books and on the sides of the fridge, and had to re-write several of the things she wrote for she could barely read her own handwriting.

And she slept on it and dreamed sweet angel dreams.

Gingerbread angel mold - 17th century

Gingerbread angel mold – 17th century

 

She made charts and lists and other charts….and then she saw the time, and it was time to bake.

So she shopped, for she had a mighty list.

Oftabakin checked and double checked the bowls and mixers and pans, and removed boughs and boughs of holly to clear the decks.

Boughs-of-Holly-Border-Roll-12.99

Decks cleared, she commenced a-measuring and a-mixing. Stirring, folding, warming, cooling, dropping, spreading, smoothing, timing.

A-baking. A-humming. Fa la la la la la la la la.

The kitchen was alive with the fragrance of sugar and spice and everything nice and the sound of angelic harps, very Celtic it seemed, but then they would be.

Oftabakin tasted the gingerbread and the gingerbread was good.

When Oftabakin said Cakewalk, she thought that the Historical Society wanted plates of gingerbread, to judge the gingerbread and choose the best gingerbread. Like a real cakewalk.

So she went to their magical website to get an entry form and directions and to see if she needed particular plates to serve it on, and would they need a copy of the recipes, for she had decided to make FOUR gingerbreads, to demonstrate Four Hundred Years of Gingerbread History on one plate. History you could eat.

What The Historical Society wanted was….

GINGERBREAD HOUSES.

(Duh duh DUUUHHHHH)

Oftabakin was many things, and when not a-baking could be a-gardening or a-cleaning or even a-humming, but Oftabakin was not a carpenter.

Oh, sure she knew the difference between a thwart saw and a sawzall, a screwdriver and a screw, timber framing and balloon framing – although that there were no actual balloons involved in balloon framing was the source of perpetual disappointment for her and a real shortcoming for carpentry in general she thought.

So she sharpened her knives and disinfected a T-square and covered the correct sized base with tin foil and made gobs and gobs of royal icing and got a pastry bag with different tips and cutters in different shapes and candies in different colors and went to work.

Hard hats were now required in the kitchen.

This is a Martha Stewart Gingerbread House. It bears no resemblance to any house in this story.

This is a Martha Stewart Gingerbread House. It bears no resemblance to any house in this story.

The list of things that Oftabakin was not continued to grow.

Not a construction worker.

Not an engineer.

Not an ice cubes chance in you-know-where for a career in fancy pastry work, either.

gingerbread house

This is not the actual house under construction. It is a re-created facsimile….minus the royal icing and gumdrops – and it is standing up straighter…..

 

And when it was done, she took some photos of The Little House, made with 4 kinds of gingerbread. And copious amounts of royal icing. And gumdrops. With a little Gingerbread Man.

The G-Man

The G-Man

“But the lightening isn’t very good,” Oftabakin said to herself. “I can’t find the good side of this house.”

“It’s not the lighting, Toots”, said the Gingerbread Man. “It’s the House. It doesn’t have a good side. Well, it does – INSIDE…someone’s mouth

Great. Of All the Gingerbread Men in All the World, Oftabakin managed to make one who was also a Wise Guy.

But daylight was burning, delivery had to be made, so the house and the icing and the gumdrops and the mouthy G-Man were all packed up and maps came out and it was time to roll.

On the highways and byways, the roll came to a sudden stop – there was an accident ahead. “Hey, Toots,” said the G-Man, “That’s not the only accident on this road – look in this box.”

Before Oftabakin could answer, she saw a sign, a sign that had colors and shapes that spoke of the Sunrise and the Sunset, and she was drawn to it, so she pulled off the highways and closer to the sign. “What would you like?” asked the Sign, and Oftabakin told the Sign.DD drive thru

Oftabakin had a Gingerbread Coffee and it was good. Oftabakin liked her coffee with cream, and no sugar, for she was sweet enough just the way God made her. Sometimes a little sugar on the side made coffee even better. So she reached to box with the Little House and picked up the G-Man and dunked his head into the coffee.gman headless

And it was good. And he was quiet. At last and for always.

And then she went home, for she realized the gingerbread was never meant to go away, but was something she could share with her own Village.

And so she took apart the house and made plates of the four different gingerbreads and shared them.

And the Villagers said, “This is Good.”

 

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Italian Cookies

There are many Italian cookies. But over and over there is ONE cookie that means ‘Italian”.

Even in my family, the name is consistent, but the spelling is forever changing. Sometimes charmella, or sharmella or ciamellas…..

This is what they look like - most of the time......

This is what they look like – most of the time……

jumblepic1

from Peter Brears – the same cookie is known as jumbles or jemellos in English.

Anise flavored with  anise icing and the all important sprinkles, confetinni, which are round sprinkles and bounce all over the kitchen….Often shaped round little snowballs, but could also be twisted rings or knots.

The knot shape

The knot shape

Italian Cookies

(Right, like there’s only ONE…)

 

½ # butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

2 Tablespoons vanilla

4 cups flour

2 Tablespoons baking powder

Icing:

½ box confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1 Tablespoon anise extract

Confettini

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add eggs and flavoring. Mix well.
  4. Blend in flour and baking powder. Work to form a soft pliable dough.
  5. Cut off pieces of dough the size of a walnut.
  6. Roll to about ½” thickness about 2 ½” long or a straight 2 ½” pencil shape.
  7. Bake in a 375° oven until lightly brown about 15-20 minutes.
  8. Cookies may be iced or left plain.
  9. Icing: Blend sugar and anise extract, adding milk slowly to form a soft smooth icing. Ice cookies while war, sprinkle confettini over top.

Anna Guecia, John Paul I Lodge, #2427 in

Preserving Our Italian Heritage. A Cookbook. Sons of Italy Florida Foundation. 1991. p. 177.

But, wait – there’s MORE…

Comments: I shape my cookies into knots, bake, then frost with vanilla flavored sugar icing and sprinkle with confettini or colored sugar.

Mary Lozito, Rev. Albert B. Palumbo Lodge # 2512

 

Comments: My cookies are shaped into bows, braids or knots and I use anise flavoring in the icing.

Josephine Ragone, Jerry Barletta Lodge #2502

 

Comments: I break off pieces of dough, roll out into a short pencil shape, then shape the dough around my finger to form a turban. I use fresh lemon juice to flavor the icing and top with red sprinkles.

Nancy Bonamo, Ft. Lauderdale Lodge #2263

Preserving Our Italian Heritage. A Cookbook. Sons of Italy Florida Foundation. 1991. p. 177. (KAF – Jan 2002)

Preserving Our Italian Heritage - I got this through the  King Arthur Flour catalog

Preserving Our Italian Heritage – I got this through the King Arthur Flour catalog

Italian Cookies

1 cup sugar (white)

3 eggs

1 stick margarine

1 cup water

1 teaspoon anise

4 teasp baking powder

4 cups flour

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Mix sugar, marg, eggs, flavor. Put in flour and baking powder + water . Mix until dough is thick. Add rest measure by teaspoons on floured board roll into balls bake on buttered baking sheet 5-6 min at 350°

Frosting

4 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon anise

2 cups powdered sugar

Mix altogether. Frost when cool.

The oldest paper copy that I have from Auntie Elide. She handed out recipes to anyone who asked. But she wasn’t a recipe writer by training. I have at least three different versions, and my sister’s is another variation, and then there’s cousin Flora’s …..

The moral of this cookie is that sometimes a recipe isn’t enough – you have to make the cookie with the cookie maker. Bake with someone this Christmas season.

On the other hand with all the versions in the Preserving Our Italian Heritage there is definitely a through line. There is also a local company – Toni’s Own  – that makes a very nice version. The company is from Wakefield, Mass which is where Auntie Elide lived.They are now in Peabody

.Toni's own logo

Noble Pig has this version

Noble Pig has this version – click the link

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday, Italian, Recipe

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

And sometimes, especially with 4 brothers, you just need quick and easy cheap eats from what you have on hand. Hence, the traditional inclusion of Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  I’m pretty sure that this recipe came from the box…if not the oatmeal box, then the raisin box.

By the way, why are oatmeal boxes ROUND???Quaker oats boxalthough the round box is good for crafts….

an organizer....if I used this for my loose recipes...first, eat lots of oatmeal

an organizer….if I used this for my loose recipes…first, eat lots of oatmeal

oatmeal box drum

The ever popular drum – for a little drummer boy, no doubt

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

3 C flour

1 C gran sugar

2 C brown sugar

2 C butter

2 tsp vanilla

6 C old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick, not instant, not steel cut or Irish)

2 tsp baking soda

2 C raisins

4 eggs

Have been using this since sometime in the ‘80’s – that’s the whole thing. I’m pretty sure that this is a double batch, at least. It make a TON of cookies. You know what to do from here. 350 or 375 for 7-12 minutes. Less time for a softer cookies, a little longer for a crisper cookie.

Did they put recipes on the back of the oatmeal box? We didn’t search for it, was out there.

oatmeal raisin' cookies Scott Metzger

 

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Filed under Christmas, The 1980's

Wine with a Twist (cookies)

These are cookies that have wine IN them.  They are better with coffee then they are with  wine. This is a variation that I had to depend on one year when I LOST THE RECIPE. It wasn’t really, really lost, and I have since found it. The problem was

I ORGANIZED MY RECIPES

recipe box

I have since found it, but , of course, I couldn’t put my hot little hands on it this morning. Because I organized my recipes – again. Or some of them. Sorta.

Now, I have organized my recipes more then once. More then twice. More then….you get the picture.

Boxes

recipe box image

And by boxes, I mean more then one. More then 2……

Binders

recipe-binder-

and by binders, I mean more then one. More then 2….you get the picture

Recipe cards

free-recipe-card-template

Assorted sizes and designs. Most of them are as blank as this one.

and then then there are odd slips of paper tucked into cookbooks……and the digital diaster….but but enough whine

…on to wine cookies …

Wine cookies have already been requested for this Christmas.  My mother asks for them. So they’re on the list. I’ll be baking them her kitchen.

For the last several years, I’ve gone to the ancestral home for cookie baking marathons because

  1. there’s just plain more room at the ancestral home and
  2. my mother tells stories of her family when there are cookies in the oven
  3. and…it’s more fun with other people around. Who come around when they hear that cookies are being baked.

One version of

WINE BISCOTI

4 2/3 cups of AP flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup sugar

¼ – 1 teaspoon anise seeds (How much anise taste do you like? If you prefer, ½ teaspoon anise extract or 1 teaspoon anise flavored liquor. Add the seeds with the drys – the liquids with the wets….)

¾ cup red wine

2/3 cup EVO

Topping:

¼ cup sugar

2 Tablespoons sugar

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with non-stick foil, parchment paper or a silpat sheet.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and anise seeds. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. Add the wine and olive oil (*and extract) and stir all together with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough (adjust with more flour if too wet and more wine/oil if too dry).
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine the ¼ cup sugar with the cinnamon and set aside.
  5. Scoop out Tablespoons of dough and form them into ball 1inch in diameter. Roll the balls into the sugar/cinnamon mix and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake in a 350° oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden.
  7. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a rack.

From Italian Cooking and Living May 2006, p. 16.

Italian Cooking and Living  not the issue with the cookie recipe

Italian Cooking and Living not the issue with the cookie recipe

wine cookies made with white wine and formed into rings

wine cookies made with white wine and formed into rings

 

Wine cookies made with red wine and made into a snail

Wine cookies made with red wine and made into a snails

 

Wine cookies with a twist

Wine with a twist cookie

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday, Italian, Recipe