Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Service of Changing Tastes of the Holidays

Tuesday, December 27th, 2022

I wonder how many holiday tables groaned with atypical taste sensations this year to accommodate increasing numbers of family members and friends turning to diets ranging from vegetarian and vegan to gluten-free and foods forbidden by allergies in addition to environmental aversion to beef.

I am not a fan of substitutes simply because I don’t care for the taste.

Most traditional foods a family makes come with stories. I’ve mentioned before the thumbprint cookies we baked for Christmas ever since I can remember as did my grandmother before us I’m told. Butter is essential to my cookies—it’s no friend of vegans–as are ground almonds, a no-no for those allergic to nuts. Nevertheless I made them again this year even if I was unable to find red current jelly. [I’m using black. Doesn’t look or taste the same.]

I no longer make the bûche de noël that I first tried early in the 1980s, including the decorative meringue “mushrooms” sprinkled with cocoa. My dad was so blown away by my effort that he told us one of only two stories shared about his life in a WWII prisoner of war camp. The inmates were allowed to receive care packages. One of the men was a baker. The others gave him the cake and chocolate they’d received, and from them he crafted a Christmas log. When he presented it, the men cried. Because eggs, chocolate and sugar are involved some would pass on a slice today. My sister lives near a fabulous baker and we rely on his talents these days.

Did you add foods to your holiday table to accommodate changing tastes? Have you nodded to the traditions of others who join you through marriage or friendship? Are there stories associated with some of your favorite holiday foods?


Image by John Nisbet from Pixabay 

Service of Handy Tips

Monday, August 29th, 2022

I suspect everyone has received frequent lists of tips forwarded by friends via email or has seen them on social media.

Here are a few of mine:

  • Ask the cashier at Target for the Walmart price. Here’s an example of an indulgence–ice cream that costs $10.99 a pint at a local grocery store–costs $7-something at Target. The Walmart price–the one I’ve paid–has ranged from $4-something to $6 and change, depending on the day.
  • Baking soda and white vinegar cleans residue off my coffee pot, the once white inside of often-used ceramic teacups as well as glassware with a clinging shadow of red wine.
  • This one addresses a longtime pet peeve–when someone asks me to call them back in X minutes when they are postponing a scheduled call. Can’t they call me? I used to waste that time concerned that I’d get involved in another call or project and miss the new appointment. The timer on my phone comes to the rescue. I can forget the call until I hear the buzz. This helps remind me of all sorts of things.
  • When making piecrust the quality of butter makes a huge difference. Use a well known brand and pay more if you must otherwise the dough is unmanageable. It’s also worth the money to buy Bounty paper towels: You’ll use many cheap ones to pick up a mess vs. one sheet of Bounty,
  • If you want to know what’s going on in the world of retail, you’ll enjoy a chuckle as well as well-researched, honest reporting at WarrensReport. Warren Shoulberg writes it. As he put it, he “knows home furnishings retailing. As a career business journalist, he has covered the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry, focusing on the home furnishings segment but also reporting on the broader business of retailing and wholesale distribution.”

What are some of your favorite handy tips?

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