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Archive for December, 2009

Check out this video on preparing an 18th Century
syllabub
, courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg, NPR,
and my fellow ALHFAMers (particularly those who
shared this on the Organization’s list-serv).

As it says, “Do try this at home.” It’ll definitely
add a delicious (and historic) delight to your
own New Year’s festivities! And fortunately,
a syllabub receipt (recipe) is included below
the video window. Or just follow Frank’s
instructions as he prepares it.

Incidentally, in “colonial” America (that’d be
the 17th, 18th, and even the very early 19th
centuries), New Year’s was celebrated more
often than Christmas.

Cheers to all. HUZZAH!

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It’s here! It’s CHRISTMAS! HUZZAH!!!

I simply LOVE this time of year.

Good Christmas to one and all.

Here now, another look at Christmas in New York.

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Wow. SNOW. And lots of it. With cold temps, to boot.
The official tally was 10.9 inches in NYC’s Central Park.
Areas in Jersey and out on Long Island got two feet and
more. We have a white winter wonderland just in time
for Christmas. HUZZAH!

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Saturday night:

Sunday morning:

Saturday, again:

And after a little Sunday morning shoveling:

Sure is pretty!

It’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

HUZZAH!!

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SNOW!

Yes Virginia, there is…SNOW! And as those who know me can
tell you, I just LOVE it. A major storm has been barreling up
the eastern seaboard this weekend. A bit slow to start here,
it picked up earlier this evening. I’ve already been out in it…
twice. It’s a lovely, true winter wonderland. HUZZAH!

A photo taken of a stoop without the flash:

Same stoop, but with flash:

I can hardly wait ’til tomorrow to see how much snow we get.
And will it still be here for Christmas? Hope so!

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I know. I’ve strayed from historic cookery topics. I apologize.
But, hey! It’s Christmas-time here in New York City. I certainly
can’t pass up enjoying all the activities, the sights and sounds,
of the season. Besides, I just love this time of year!

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holiday doin’s

Whew! It’s been one busy week. There’s always lots to do to get
ready for Christmas. Baking those tasty gingerbread cookies
(with ginger) was just the beginning. Then there was the card
writing and sending, putting up the tree, and decorating inside
and out. Then the fun really began. Namely, parties!

First was my annual Chrismakah dinner, when a good (Jewish)
friend and I (non-Jewish) celebrate Christmas and Chanukah.
We light the menorah and the tree, eat lots, exchange gifts,
and indulge in holiday merry making.

The food!

And yes, I made another Potato Pumpkin. HUZZAH!

Cool! I received a REAL popover pan. Now I can stop using that regular
ol’ muffin tin and bake some lovely gems.

The party’s over ’til next year.

Then I attended an actual Chanukah Celebration at the Jewish
Society in Manhattan with the same above friend. Naturally,
there was more food, menorah lighting, grab-bag gifts, music,
and general merry making.

The party’s winding down.

My grab-bag pick: a Chanukah Dog! What fun.

The scene I saw on the return home. Ahh, Christmas in New York.
Simply lovely!

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At this time of year, I enjoy doing a little baking. Cookies,
mostly. Particularly gingerbread. I have fond, but fuzzy,
memories of making them with my mother when I was
much younger. I even have many of the cookie cutters
we used, plus a few newer ones. My favorites are a star,
a bell, and a small gingerbread boy (er, person?).

When I bake these, I do them “from scratch,” yes? Um,
well, no. Not usually. Thing is, I don’t typically keep all
the required ingredients on hand, be it flour or cloves
or ginger or whatever. Not that I couldn’t buy them.
I don’t really remember what my mother did. I tend
to lean towards “from scratch,” yet, knowing her…but
I just don’t remember.

In any event, it’s just easier to pick up a box mix.
Maybe some day, I’ll be adventurous and go all out,
but for now, store-bought-box-mix is my method.
I know. Bad cook, historical or otherwise. Again.

Now, I usually pick up good ol’ Betty Crocker Gingerbread
Cake & Cookie Mix. It’s easy, works well, and tastes fine.
However, the other day I found boxes of Hodgson Mill
Whole Wheat Gingerbread Mix on the store shelf.

Now, for any of my other baking, particularly and especially
historical, I prefer to use Hodgson Mill Unbleached Flour.
Why? Well, first, because it’s not been treated with modern
chemicals to make it whiter. The usual bleaching agents
include benzoyl peroxide, chlorine, nitrogen dioxide, and
so on. Second, no artificial vitamins have been added (as
is required by US law) to replace the real ones lost due
to the chemical bleaching process, because it wasn’t
bleached in the first place. (Incidentally, bleaching is
prohibited in Europe.) When you see flour is labeled
as being “enriched,” that’s what it means. Vitamins
such as niacin, iron, riboflavin, and, my own favorite,
thiamin mononitrate, have all been added. And lastly,
I appreciate that Hodgson’s contains no other flours.
Most, if not all, other commercially sold flours, whether
bleached or not
, include “malted barley flour.” So they’re
not just wheat flour; they’re wheat and barley flour.
The labels will typically add, in parenthesis, that this
“improves yeast baking.” Which only makes sense,
as malted barley is the basis for brewing beer, and
beer is built on yeast.

Just for fun, let’s do a little label comparison.
The ingredients of Betty Crocker Gingerbread Mix:

Enriched flour bleached (wheat flour, niacin,
iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic
acid), sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean
&/or cottonseed oil, molasses, wheat starch,
baking soda, dextrose, corn starch, salt,
sodium acid pyrophosphate, natural flavor,
nonfat milk.

Hmmm…not a bit of cinnamon, cloves, or even GINGER,
in Betty’s GINGERbread mix. Guess the “natural flavor” is
good enough?! Incidentally, all the words in parenthesis,
following “bleached,” are the exact same ones that’re found
on other bags of bleached flour.

Here are the ingredients of Hodgson Mill Gingerbread Mix:

Whole grain whole wheat flour, molasses,
brown sugar, baking soda, ginger,
cinnamon, salt, cloves.

Wow! Real ingredients. Bake on!

My Hodgson Mill’s gingerbread cookies were pretty tasty.
They were a bit different, however. I think, possibly, it
was the use of whole grain whole wheat flour. They did
seem a little more “earthy” tasting. I’ll have to make more,
maybe Betty’s and some “from scratch,” and then compare!

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