Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas is almost here!

Time to make all the candy, cakes, and cookies that make us smile and remember other Christmases that had the same assortment of tempting morsels year after year.

Even though maybe our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents aren't with us anymore, we are still held together as a family through food—recipes—many of them hand-written—that are passed down from generation to generation.

Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Hyland had a restaurant (the American Restaurant) on Market Street in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Great Grandpa Hyland's fudge recipe is framed and hangs on the wall at my home. It is in Grandpa's handwriting and keeps him with us. His fudge is the best! It stays soft and literally melts in your mouth. He also included walnuts or black walnuts. Mom always got a box of fudge from Grandpa, and of course, it was enough to share with everybody.

Great Grandma Fankhauser's “Day after Thanksgiving Tradition” was to make three delicious fruitcakes, to be brought out for Christmas dinner and have plenty to last till New Year. Mom tried to make a dark fruitcake like Grandma's because that recipe wasn't written down. The closest she could come was a recipe from “Sphere” magazine, one of the first and best gourmet magazines ever. It was dark like Grandma's, not terribly sweet, and included tart apricot halves that she chopped. The tart apricots are getting harder to find. The “new” apricots are whole, gooey, and virtually tasteless, at least for a fruitcake. She found a good source for the “old” kind of apricots, so the fruitcake tradition can continue.

We always drove to Vienna, West Virginia, every Christmas because that's where both sets of my grandparents lived, Hylands and Phillips. It was seventeen and a half hours one-way of driving, sometimes through ice and snow. Granny's Hot Spiced Tea, made with tea, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves, and tinted pink warmed us on many cozy holiday afternoons. It was loving and soothing. Grandma Phillips always had a bowl of nuts, fruit, especially tangerines, peppermint candy canes, and a box of chocolate-covered cherries on the coffee table for us to nibble on.

When we got back home on the day after New Year, Lynda, who graciously took care of our big blue Doberman Wolf while we were gone, always had one of her mom and dad's (Cecile and Wallace Doss's) scrumptious stollen wreaths waiting for us. We all looked forward to getting to have some right after we got home and again for breakfast the next day.

Suzanne, my sister, said she always liked Mom's Holly Cake. Just make a white cake, cupcakes, or a red velvet cake iced in shiny white. Cut the tops off candy spearmint leaves—it looks like holly. Arrange three leaves with three red drops (to look like holly berries) around the cake or on top of each cupcake. Festive—and easy.

Adaire Chef Services has an old tradition made new in its Fudgie Scotch Ring. It's chocolate and butterscotch on a walnut base. It's YUMMY! Order a Fudgie Scotch Ring at 678-445-6275 and begin a new tradition at your house.

Need a gift that costs nothing? Write down some favorite recipes and make copies of some hand-written ones to give to friends and family. Include a personal story that goes with a couple of the recipes. That's giving from your heart.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Adaire Chef Services