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Dec
04
2010

Happy National Cookie Day! Cookbook Project Announcement!

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If you will all send me your favorite cookie recipe with a photo if possible, I will put them altogether into a cookie book via PDF file and upload it so you can all have a copy.  Won’t this be fun!?  Come on let’s all make it happen.  So many times we get pumped about something and don’t finish it! Like where in the world is the round robin letter??? Or photos for November??? Not a one! Come on peeps help me out here! Send your recipe and photo to notquitejunecleaveratgmaildotcom. Of course you know to replace the at with a @ and the dot with a .

HEY I HAVE A GREAT IDEA! I tell you what, I will make this super easy.  December’s photo theme is COOKIES!  So send a recipe WITH a photo and you have killed to birds with one stone!  I will pick a winner from the cookie photos sent in! Can it be any easier?  Play along here…I need some inspiration! And let me bait you a bit more.  There will be a prize other than a very cool cookie book from Not Quite June Cleaver & Friends and a $20 Snapfish gift certificate.  I will throw in a one of a kind Not Quite June Cleaver Apron, handmade by yours truly.

The deadline is the same as the photo contest – last day of the month.  I will begin working on the cookie booklet as soon as the entries start arriving.  Then the first week of January I will announce the winner and finish up the booklet and and upload the pdf file so you can all have a copy!

Okay, there you have it! Let’s kick of December the right way!  Join the fun!  Have a great weekend.

Nov
19
2010

Time to make Christmas Cakes! Recipe Redux!

It’s that time of the year again…

“Isn’t that a fruitcake?” asked Husband.  “No, people don’t like fruitcake.  These are going to be Christmas Cakes.  BIG difference.  One is edible, one is not.” I tell him.  “Oh, so it’s a different recipe?” he asks.  “No, same recipe.  Different outcome.”

You all know what I mean don’t you?  You can call something one thing and it not be good at all.  Rename it and there you go!  Success!

Anyway, I do know a few people who LOVE fruitcake.  Good fruitcake.  Not bought fruitcake.  Me being one of those people.  OH! Excuse me, I meant Christmas Cake.  I LOVE Christmas Cake.Please do not assume you don’t like Christmas Cake (or fruitcake, if you insist on calling them this!) because you don’t like the store bought variety. They are NOT one in the same. Bought Christmas cakes contain that awful candied cherry and citron mixture that not only is not tasty but hard as rocks sometimes. This recipe I am about to give you is easy as can be.

This recipe makes four 6″ cakes.

  • 12 cups of dried fruit – I used apricots, dates, blueberries, cranberries, dark and golden raisins.
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup brandy or Cognac

Chop the large fruits into 1/4 inch pieces. Put all the fruit in a non-reactive container (plastic or glass) and pour the honey and brandy over it, stirring to coat well. Cover and let sit for a day or up to two weeks, mixing occasionally.

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When ready to assemble the cakes, heat your oven to 275°F. Pour your fruit into a colander set over a bowl and let it drain while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Generously butter and flour your pans. As I said I used four 6″ rounds. But I think two 8’s would work as well. I also like to put a round of brown paper in the bottom of my pans over the butter/flour.

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Cake ingredients:

  • Prepared fruit mixture
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1TBSP coarse salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts – coarsely chopped (I used walnuts and pecans)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup light brown, 1/2 cup white and 1/4 cup dark brown)
  • 7 large eggs

ccspices.jpgAnd for the glaze you will need apricot jam, brandy and water.

Stir together the dry ingredients and then add the nuts and stir again. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer with your paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Transfer to a large bowl and using the folding method, add the flour/nut mixture and then the fruit mixture. Stir to evenly distribute the fruits.

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Divide the batter between the prepared pans. These pans will be full – note you didnt use any leavening so they are going to be dense (read: YUMMY) cakes.

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Cut parchment to fit around the pans and above the rim at least 2 1/2 inches. Tie with baker’s twine.

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Place on pans on cookie sheet and bake for 2 hours to 2 1/4 hours. Or until cake tester comes out clean. Transfer pans to wire rack to cool completely. Turn out cakes, then flip back over so top is up.

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Heat 1/4 cup apricot jam, 1/4 cup brandy and 1/4 cup water until jam is liquid. Brush on tops of cooled cakes. Wrap in parchment and store in refrigerator for up to six months.

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If you live in a cold climate, and you have a cool spot in your house, they can be kept in a tin or plastic container and unrefrigerated. But since many times we have the air conditioning on in December as much as July, we keep ours refrigerated.

As always look over this recipe and read completely before starting. If you have any questions or something doesn’t look right let me know. I read and reread my recipes but still miss some things.

Have a great day. I have other recipes I am working on so stay tuned!

Mine this year will be gluten free. I will let you know how they turn out.  This gluten free thing is a lot of work :/

There are some GREAT things coming up next week.  I might be scarce for a few days but things are already lined up so do stay tuned.  You won’t won’t to miss next Tuesday’s Tree-hugging post for sure! WOW…you’re going to love it!

Oct
28
2010

Thoughtful Thursday

This will likely be my most controversial post to date so buckle up.  The following paragraphs might render comments I refuse to approve, depending on my mood. I might even get an email or two.  And when it hits facebook, I might see my followers number decline.  But, all I can say is: it was inevitable.

I am going to talk about Hallowe’en (and likely some other things too). And not in the general sense that it is a holiday. Which it is.  Or that I love it.  Which I do.  And I will go ahead and tell you what prompted this post, and what some may see as a rant. And those that see this as a rant, have never actually seen me rant ;)

NOTE: Since I wrote this I edited it to add some pictures I found of Hallowe’ens past.  Such sweet memories.  They are in no particular order.  Enjoy!

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I was in Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon killing time, buying a few groceries while Ben was in Chemistry class.  I was milling around the Autumn/Halloween section, disgusted mostly by the amount of plastic crap, when I hear this voice.  The kind of voice that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  That horrible grating twang of a grown man who insists on using phrases like “ain’t got no”, “you done it”, “I seen it”.  I am immediately put off by his grammar and his tone.  His little wife, a very petite woman in a dress and with her hair pulled into an extraordinarily tight bun, was pushing the shopping cart in front of him and she made some comment about the pretty Autumn wreath she stopped in front of.  And this gargantuan man says in a very gruff and loud voice “We ain’t a-gettin’ no Halloween stuff.  That’s the Devil’s day.  Woman, get a move on.”  I wheeled around to look at his face hoping he was making a joke or kidding.  But he glared right back at me with a very stern look on his face. And his poor “woman” looked like the chickens had got her biscuit.  Sheepish.  Embarrassed.  Just beat down.  Yes, I muttered a verbal abuse.  Yes, I questioned whether his parents were married when he was conceived.  Yes, he probably heard me.  No, I didn’t care.  Why are people like that?  You could tell he was just a barrel of laughs ALL. THE. TIME.  And that poor woman was in too deep to claw her way out.  And maybe she is perfectly happy being spoken to like she’s an idiot in public.  But all I could think was if he talks to her like that in public, how must he treat her in private?  I know, I know, none of my business.  NONE. My second thought was what a MORON.  Hallowe’en is not the Devil’s Day.  Not at my house anyway.  I knew, though, if I had the rest of my life I would have never had an intelligent conversation with him and furthermore, I didn’t care what he thought or believed.  But the fact that people, lots of people, are afraid of Hallowe’en has always baffled me.  Lots of things baffle me, though.

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Hallowe’en was a big deal to me as a kid.  It was my favorite holiday.  Still is.  All the fun, food, family and no pressure of gifts!  It’s not that I don’t love to buy for people, I do!  But it is a lot of pressure for some people and very stressful.  But all that is beside the point.  My point  is Hallowe’en is not evil.  Evil people may celebrate Hallowe’en.  They also may celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah.  There are evil people in all walks of life.  Some of them even walk around verbally abusing their wives in Wal-Mart and they HATE Hallowe’en.

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I hate generalizations.  And I am just as guilty as anyone at times.  But it irks me about myself and I try to keep a lid on it.  I really and truly do try to meet people as individuals.  And I don’t think any less of people who choose not to participate in Hallowe’en, even if I disagree with their reasons.  Those are THEIR reasons, therefore, none of my business.  And as long as they don’t try to convince me how evil I am for donning my witch hat in public one or two days a year (two parties this year – YAY!) then we will get along fine :)

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This was Hallowe’en 2000

Yes, I know what we celebrate as Hallowe’en today started as a religious holiday for Celtic pagans.  I have read lots about Hallowe’en and its origins.  But not much scares me and I don’t have a problem with those facts.  There are so many superstitions that were passed down to me by my aunts and uncles and grandparents that I learned not to let things frighten me.  In fact my grandfather, Daddy Tom to me, wouldn’t have liked it one tiny little bit that I own a black kitty.  He was scared to death of them!  My Daddy Tom was Irish/Scottish and whisky was his drink of choice.  Nowadays he would have been in jail or meetings but back in the day, he carpentered all day, and drank all evening.  And please PLEASE do not think I am speaking ill of him.  I loved him very much and he worshiped the ground I walked on.  He was my best friend when I was a little girl and when he died he was building me a country fair in his back pasture, complete with a ferris wheel.  By the time I came along he had stopped drinking and was legally blind from glaucoma.  But when he was a much younger man, drinking and driving was common.  I think drinking and anything was pretty common with him :)   Anyway, he had a bad car accident – bad for the car, he wasn’t hurt badly.  And you know what caused it?  A black cat.  Yep.  A black cat walked across the road in front of him and he panicked.  There is no way it could have been the fifth of whisky he drank.  Nope.  It was the cat.  Poor kitty. He was also deathly afraid of frogs.  That one I can’t explain.  Frogs??? Pretty harmless I think.

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Did you know that if you see a spider on All Hallow’s Eve, it is a dearly departed relative coming by to check on you?  Well, if you had grown up in my house, you would have known that ;)   My mom’s side of the family was a mixture of “old country”  and lapsed Catholics.  So tradition and celebration ran deep.  Things that people find offensive and evil about Hallowe’en were so much a part of my childhood, that I didn’t have any idea of any controversy until I was grown up.  When I was a kid, I went to Hallowe’en parties at CHURCH!  I won a costume contest when I was in the 7th grade at the Methodist Church Hallowe’en Party.  And what did I go as?  A black cat!  Dang, that was a cute costume!  Probably the one time in my life I didn’t go as a witch.

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I guess I should just get to my point.  If I can remember what it was.  Oh yeah, you can make something evil out of anything.  You can suck the fun right out of everything if you try hard enough.  Remember when I say this, where I am coming from and, please know, that if you believe the complete opposite, I accept that.  I won’t try to convince you I am right and you are wrong.  Everyone is entitled and, by law, has a right to their own beliefs.  That includes Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Pagans, Agnostics, Atheists, and everything in between.  Hallowe’en is not a religious holiday for me.  It’s not what I was taught. It is for some.  Christmas is not a religious holiday for some.  Even those that profess Christianity.  They see it is as evil.  Ruined by Santa :/ I was pretty old before I realized it was religious for some people. Christmas was all about Santa in my family. I happen to love the jolly old elf!   As an adult I realized I appreciated this about my family:  they may have been heathens, but  they weren’t hypocrites!  I say this to point out that you can’t lump people into categories with any accuracy.  You can, I suppose.  But you shouldn’t.  I have friends from ALL beliefs.  I love hearing about how they celebrate.  Their family traditions.  Some of those celebrations I wish I took part in.  Or could see firsthand.  I am fascinated by what makes people tick.  What makes them believe what they believe. And yes at times I have shook my head and thought what???  I am also fascinated by the fact that some people think what they believe is the only thing anyone should believe.

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There was just so much I never realized was taboo.  Don’t get me wrong, I was raised with rules and manners.  Keep your skirt down, your elbows off the table, your hands clean, your teeth brushed, your room picked up.  Do not talk back to your elders.  Follow the rules at school.  Make the best grade you are capable of.  If asked, tell the truth even if it gets you into trouble.  In fact always tell the truth.  Don’t hit people.  Don’t tell lies about people.  Be sure what you are about to repeat is not just gossip, that’s a waste of time and hurtful.  Always look out for the person who has no one else to look out for them. Stand up for people who don’t have the power to stand up for themselves.  Being poor is not a sin, or a stain on one’s character, but not sharing what you have is.  Do not mistreat animals or people, especially people less fortunate than you are.  There will always be someone who has more than you, but that doesn’t make them better than you.  It’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you handle what happens to you.  At times these truths have escaped my judgment but I have never forgotten them.

What I wasn’t taught was that my idea was the only idea, that what I believed was right for everyone, that just because your mouth opened and shut did not make it a prayer book.  I am not sure exactly how that last one translates literally, but I heard it a lot and I got the gist.  I also learned that if my mom could find a cookie cutter for something it must a holiday and we were going to celebrate!

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My dad was raised Methodist and, periodically, we went to church when we were little, and even some after I was in high school.  But never on a regular basis.  When I was 9 my dad sobered up through AA and we all became friends of Bill W.  So that was our “religion” for many, many years.  And it kept our family together and my parents together and never once did I ever hear anyone browbeat or told what a horrible sinner they were for their relationship with the bottle.  Most of the people I met through AA had already been to Hell and not much scared them.  They were the most spiritual people I have ever known.  And I am very thankful they were there to prop my dad up instead of condemning him.  And of course I learned the Serenity Prayer, as every good meeting goer.  But I never once thought of the God of the prayer being just one certain one.  I figure  if a Hindu man or woman showed up needing a meeting, he or she would be welcomed with a hug, and quite possibly the worst coffee made by human hands.  I don’t think anyone would have thought twice if that person had added a name to God or even said gods.

I did have another point??  I suppose it would be if you don’t judge me for my religion or lack of religion, and even if you do, I won’t judge you for yours.

Happy Hallowe’en to all my secular friends. Merry Samhain to all my pagan friends.  Blessed All Hallow’s Eve and All Saint’s Day to my Christian friends.  If you don’t do any of them…Happy Thursday.  And have a wonderful weekend.

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