recipes


BUTTER LAMBS

Years ago when my husband and I lived in Buffalo, New York, there was (and still is) a big Polish Catholic tradition of purchasing butter in the shape of a lamb for your Easter celebration.

I don’t ban the bunnies, but I feel a lot happier with a few lambs and crosses around my house, especially at this time of the year.  Those sorts of things are getting more difficult to find nowadays on account of having to make store shelf room for the camouflage plastic eggs and the Barbie tin pails that someone out there feels is a MUST-HAVE for your modern egg hunt (I have to admit that those little rubber duckies they have this year are adorable!).

So when we lived in Buffalo, I joyously bought my butter lamb every year. When we left Buffalo, I was very sad to have no more.  So I make my own now.

Some people make a “wooly” lamb by making the butter all squiggly through a garlic press, but I just use a plastic mold that you might buy for making chocolate lambs.   I have 2 kinds:  one has a front and a back that makes a whole lamb, and the other is for chocolate lollipops–the front of a lamb without a back.

You can purchase a whole lamb mold at a baking supplies shop or at the Polish Art Center.

Here’s how to make a butter lamb!

1.  Using clean hands or the tip of a table knife, press semi-firm butter into the molds.  Keep looking on the front-side as you’re pressing, to make sure you get the air bubbles out.

2.  Scrape the back-sides level, wipe off the excess around the edges, and attach the two sides together.

3.  Put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

4.  Carefully take the lamb out of the mold.  Using a knife and/or paper towel, trim the excess off the seams.

5.  Traditionally, peppercorns are used for the eyes; I melt a few chocolate chips and use a toothpick to paint the eyes.

6.  Traditionally, the lamb has a bow or sash, and a toothpick flag with a red cross is placed in his back.  I usually put a red or purple ribbon bow on mine, using melted chocolate to attach it.

May you have a blessed Easter, Friends!

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  ~~Isaiah 53:6

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Valentine’s Day was always a special event when I was growing up, because my mother always bought us a little gift and candy. I still have the plastic pin she bought me, and each year I manage to find an occasion on which to wear it.

I’ve carried on the tradition by always buying some Reese’s peanut butter cups for my guys, along with making a personalized Valentine for each.  For example, when the boys were into dinosaurs, I cut out red dinosaurs with something like “I’m stomping over to you to tell you I love you” or somesuch.

But this year, I was out of ideas.

The internet showed how to make an origami heart, so midnight last night found me struggling and exasperated trying out to make sense out of those directions.  I could NOT do it!  I finally found a different heart on a different website, and finished by beating out a ragged form that was kinda like a heart; it was easy enough to think of a slogan to write on it.  I decided one heart was enough, and that prize went to my husband.

I also broke tradition by giving him a small gift, enlarging and framing a photo recently found when unearthing old treasures.  This is a Christmas card his family sent to friends in 1961.  Chip is the youngest of the family.

As for myself, I snitch a bit of the others’ candy.And Chip usually gives me flowers, which were particularly lovely this year.

I had a flower from another source too:  my chiropractor, who gave a carnation to each of his lady customers!

Supper for us on Valentine’s Day is always the same menu, simply because I looked through a cookbook 27 years ago to find something different to fix when Chip was coming to visit me on this special day.  I remember painstakingly following this new recipe, as Chip sat in a corner of my small kitchen, keeping me company.  Disney’s Parent Trap was playing on the television in the other room.

Here is what we always have:

Chicken Imperial (from Good Housekeeping Illustrated)

Mashed potatoes

Carrots with brown sugar glaze (Betty Crocker)

Company cheesecake with strawberry topping (Betty Crocker)

Chicken Imperial has ALWAYS been very very good to eat, even when through the years we’ve done it differently–without flour, with gluten-free flour, with rice milk, with soy milk, or with water replacing the cooking sherry.  Here is the recipe:

Chicken Imperial

(with my comments in parentheses-as you can see, I’m not fancy!)

4 large whole chicken breasts, skinned (I use 3 lb. cut into small pieces)

¼ to ½ C. flour

½ C. butter

1 lb. small mushrooms–quartered (I use 8 oz. chopped)

1 T. minced onion (I use a bit of onion powder)

1 C. heavy or whipping cream

¼ C. dry sherry

1 ½ tsp. salt (I use 1 tsp. nowadays)

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 T. water

1.  Coat chicken with the flour.In 12-inch skillet over medium heat, in hot butter, cook chicken till lightly browned on all sides.  Put aside.

2.  In drippings in skillet over medium heat, cook mushrooms and onion for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in cream, sherry, salt and pepper and stir to blend well.

3.  Return chicken to skillet.  Reduce heat to low; cover skillet and simmer 20 minutes or till chicken is fork-tender.

4.  To thicken sauce (which I usually skip):  Blend 1 T. flour with water. Gradually add to pan liquid, stirring constantly, and cook till mixture is thickened.

5.  To serve:  Spoon sauce over chicken and/or put sauce in a gravy boat for the mashed potatoes.

Now to the subject of the greatest love of all: Yesterday I had the privilege of listening to the first eight chapters of the letter the apostle Paul had written to the Romans; when you hear the Word of God in big batches, it is so fine.  And when I listened, I tried to think of what it would be like living in that time and hearing Paul say those words.  Paul points out how terribly bad we are, and how hopeless it is to try to make amends for it ourselves.  It makes you feel horrified.

Then Paul explains how God passes over our sins, because Jesus paid the price for it.   By His grace, as a gift to us, he says.

Can you imagine it?   The people of that time knew so many gods, and these gods were so cruel; they demanded behavior and sacrifices to be just so, and you could never really tell whether or not they were going to be appeased (and isn’t that really what it’s like now too?).   But here is such a different God, the real God, who is so unlike the others (who were never real at all).   A God we can cry out to like children, and He is our papa.  A papa who loves us, gives us assurance, and gives us all hope for the future.

The passage ends with such a strong and definite promise:  Romans 8:38–“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

WHO needs ANYthing else?

CHOCOLATE CHIP MERINGUES

Last night I made meringue cookies with chocolate chips in them.  They are divine.


I’ve been making so many, and they are eaten so fast, that now I automatically double the batch each time.  Be careful before you think of doing this though, as they ALL have to fit in the oven at the same time!

So I added 1 C. of chocolate chips per batch.

I also made peach meringues the other day too.  They were … OK.  I doubled the recipe–minus ½ cup of the sugar, and replaced it with a package of peach jello.  They tasted nice and peach-ish, but the rather artificial flavor of the gelatin was also there.

I think I’m done with meringues for a while!

PEPPERMINT MERINGUES

Today I made peppermint meringue cookies.

I had been warned that pure peppermint extract would make the cookies “flatten” and they did.  But it did not seem to affect the taste or texture one bit.  However:  1/2 teaspoon for the whole batch was WAY too much for me, although my guys were fine with it.

I sprinkled red sugar on top.

I made a second batch using the regular recipe and sprinkled crushed peppermint candy on top.  Perfect!

I LOVE being snowed in, here in our woods.  But today it doesn’t have quite the enjoyment as usual, because I had to tell 80 people that we would have to cancel their Jane-Austen-type ball.  Hopefully we can reschedule.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided that one of the great joys of being gluten-free is my rediscovery of meringue cookies.  They are so easy to make, are low in calories, and are so very very good to eat.

My good friend gave me her mother-in-law’s recipe, who had the recipe from her mother.  Lori gave me permission to share it (I added some further explanation here and there):

GO-TO-BED MERINGUE COOKIES
from Irma Evans

2 egg whites
2/3 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. nuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. On medium, beat egg whites well till foamy with uniform small bubbles. Add sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time.  On high, beat till glossy with stiff peaks.

3. Fold in vanilla and nuts.

4. Drop by tsp. on oiled pans.

5. Turn off oven.

6. Place cookies in oven and leave at least 3 hours or overnight. Do not open oven door during the 3 hours or the cookies will be undercooked.

I went on a binge yesterday to find out all the various extras one can add to them (although we admit we love them just the way they are), and the possibilities thrill the soul!  Next week I’m going to make several kinds to take to a potluck dinner.

ADDITIONS

1 C. chocolate chips, mini or regular-fantastic!
toffee bits
crushed peppermint
almond flavoring: ½ tsp.
lemon flavoring: ½ tsp.
maple flavored extract:½ tsp.
crushed candy
peppermint flavoring–real peppermint oil can make it fall, but you might be able to do it, ½ tsp. folding in at the end
sprinkle crushed peppermint candies on top
sprinkle with colored sugar on top
a packet of flavored jello (3 ½ T.?)
lemon zest
finely chopped almonds or pecans or walnuts, cashews–1 C.
salted peanuts
food coloring
color them green and can top it with one chocolate chip
Melt three 1 oz. squares of semisweet chocolate with 1 T. shortening and dip each cookie in it halfway
2 T. cocoa powder
2 tsp. instant coffee granules
¾ tsp. cardamom
1/4 C. candied fruit
Put a chocolate kiss inside–press in and cover it up

Last night I made almond.

I didn’t know I was supposed to write a Thanksgiving post till all my xanga friends pointed it out, so I only took one photo on the Big Day.  But it does tell a story.

I was planning to take several of my niece holding her twins, in the hopes that I would end up with one photograph that didn’t have closed eyes, open mouths, or arms in the way!  But if you look at the photo closely, perhaps you can guess what might be coming next-and all opportunity for another photo of them was lost.  (HINT:  Mama was not happy)

I spent the day before Thanksgiving cooking as I’ve done every year, even though this was the first time in years when the meal wasn’t going to be at my house!  In this way, my son and I were able to take our own gluten-free food to the feast, and we all came home to leftovers in the evening.

In spite of being gluten-free, we were still able to carry on our tradition of making “turkey bread.”  I have a photograph of my children with their turkey bread for every year since we began, so we can’t stop now.

Younger son, in grade 1

Even though it definitely took a drastic down-turn for the worse this year…ah well, there are many more new recipes to explore.

Younger son, in grade 11

Everyone in the extended family was kind enough not to mention its loss; the taste of it is something they all look forward to at the holidays.

FRIDAY could be dubbed Teenage Day.  Because some teens who had moved away were coming to the area to visit their grandma, we hosted a get-together in our church basement for the teens to play games, chat, and dance some English Country and contradance.

My older son traveled to pick up some dagorhir warriors from New York state (girls this time) and they slept at our house for a few hours before leaving to attend a dagorhir event in the Washington, D.C. area.  Every mother’s dream:  to have children traveling on the highways on Thanksgiving weekend.  If you’re dying to see dagorhir in action, click HERE to see a 30-second commercial.

TODAY: Ah, today is the relaxing day, the housecleaning day, the catch-up day, the prepare-for-the-next-whirlwind day!  It is good to have a few hours like this!