Monday, December 13, 2010


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At my home we cooked and baked and crafted for weeks before December 24, Christmas Eve, that truly magical evening. Since the 1930s, Christian children have left cookies and milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.  We certainly did, by the fireplace; at some point my mother found a wooden shoe, probably at a thrift shop or a church rummage sale, so we added a bunch of carrots for the reindeer, too. She told us it was a Norwegian tradition, and I always thought of Heidi high in the mountains nibbling Lintzer cookies and waiting for Santa, just like me.

Of course, cookies are great any time of year, especially if you are a child, and this holiday season brought to mind my Grammie Conn’s cookies.  She made them all year long and always had some stored in a tin, high on the shelf in the pantry. 

Going to Grammie’s house was fun for so many reasons, but there was nothing so exciting as coming through the door and being given the privilege of collecting the kitchen stool and carrying it to the back of the pantry, knowing a cold glass of milk would be waiting on the kitchen table to wash those cookies down with. I would happily help Grammie with all kinds of chores if I was going to be rewarded with cookies and milk.

This cookies smell and taste like thick ginger snaps. It takes two days to complete because of resting time in the refrigerator, but you can easily put together the batter one evening after work, and bake them the next. But they are such a treat and more than worth the effort.



2 cups Flour

2 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Cloves

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. Ginger

1 Egg, beaten

¼ cup Sweet Butter

1 cup Sugar

¼ cup Molasses


Cream together butter and sugar. Add beaten egg and molasses. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix. Chill in refrigerator overnight. The mixture may seem a bit crumbly, but that’s all right. Hand roll chilled dough into walnut sized balls. Roll in sugar (optional, but delicious.) Place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly with spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Let cool on cookie racks before packing into your special tin.

These cookies are crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, best served simply with a tall, cold glass of milk. And trust me, they are good anytime of the year!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


 [KEHR-ah-meh-lyz, KAR-ah-meh-lyz] 

To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a clear syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown (from 320° to 350°F on a candy thermometer).

In the proportion of two parts sugar to one part water, melt sugar over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar turns liquid and browns to the degree desired.

Granulated or brown sugar can also be sprinkled on top of food and placed under a heat source, such as a broiler, or cooked on the stovetop, until the sugar melts and caramelizes. 

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Friday, December 3, 2010


One of my grandmother’s most reliable mantras was, “Simple is elegant.”  That little platitude has served me well over the years; when I get too muddled over anything I always revert to keeping it simple.

Such is the case for my Red Onion Relish. Unlike many relishes, which have an abundance of ingredients and a complex flavor, this caramelized onion recipe is simply composed creating an intense, uncomplicated flavor. This onion condiment enhances everything from burgers, beef or chicken, to grilled vegetables or a sandwich.

The following recipe is for a small batch that can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month. You can double or triple the batch and process in a hot water bath for storage on the pantry shelf or gift giving. Some people prefer red wine vinegar in place of balsamic, so I recommend making two small batches first, to discover which one you prefer and so you can  practice  caramelizing the onions.

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2 large Red Onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar

1 cup dry Red Wine

5 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (or ¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar)

1/8 tsp each Salt and White Pepper


Slice onions as thinly as possible. I use my Cuisinart for this step. Combine onions and sugar in a heavy non-stick skillet. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes or until onions turn golden and start to caramelize, stirring frequently.

Stir in wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Remove jars from canner and ladle relish into jars to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes for half-pint jars. Otherwise ladle into small container that can be tightly capped and store up to one month in the refrigerator.