Category Archives: Recipes

The Centerpiece: Christmas Plum Pudding

The Centerpiece: Christmas Plum Pudding

In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol All of us, I presume, are familiar with the image… Continue Reading

Here we come a-wassailing!

Here we come a-wassailing!

The general opinion is that wassailing is all about the apples and/or an ancient pagan ritual. Neither is true, but the origins are interesting nevertheless. Earliest traces are to a simple Anglo-Saxon/Old Norse toast — Waes Hael! — which translates to “be hale!” To this wish for good health, a fellow drinker would respond, Drinc Hael! As may… Continue Reading

More Than One Way to Cook a Turkey

More Than One Way to Cook a Turkey

In the United States, turkey as a holiday dinner meat is associated most strongly with Thanksgiving. However, Christmas runs a close second. In my family tradition, glazed ham with fresh cloves has forever been our dinner choice, turkey the special treat for Thanksgiving. Whether choosing turkey for either or both important feasting holidays, the bird… Continue Reading

Classic English Cookbooks. Bon Appétit!

Classic English Cookbooks. Bon Appétit!

Do you love cookbooks? What about ones that were written over 200 years ago? If classic French cuisine or Medieval feasts with venison or traditional English fare appeals, then I have just the cookbook(s) for you! The following are the biggies from the Georgian Era and before. In each instance, the books are in the… Continue Reading

Hot Chocolate Garnishes

Hot Chocolate Garnishes

Nothing wrong with a dollop of whipped cream or mini-marshmallows floating atop a steaming mug of hot chocolate. But for something a bit more exciting or unique, here are a few ideas to WOW your holiday guests and thrill your kiddies. When necessary, recipes are included or linked to, although in most cases the garnish… Continue Reading

Rainbows of Hot Chocolate

Rainbows of Hot Chocolate

The word “chocolate” automatically conjures the image of bars/chunks in ranging shades of brown. Then we remember there is white chocolate and food coloring. From there the possibilities are almost endless! With rainbow colors come a rainbow of flavors too.                         Continue Reading

Hot Chocolate with “Spice”

Hot Chocolate with “Spice”

Want your hot chocolate with a bit of kick to it? There are several ways to bring zing to an old standard. Variations for the over 21 crowd are myriad, essentially hot chocolate or hot cocoa cooked the desired way and then “spiked” with one’s preferred alcohol. Possibilities include: bourbon, Kahlua, rum, whiskey, brandy, vodka, Bailey’s Irish… Continue Reading

French Hot Chocolate

French Hot Chocolate

French Hot Chocolate – called le Chocolat Chaud – is distinguished from traditional hot chocolate in that it is much richer and thicker, and less sweet. True French hot chocolate is always made from brick chocolate, the higher the cacao percentage the better, and never from cocoa powder. The texture is velvety smooth, a true “death by… Continue Reading

Hot Chocolate: A History

Hot Chocolate: A History

We are entering the cold weather where cuddling up by the fire with a steaming mug of something warm, such as hot chocolate, is an evening favorite. So here is a short history of this delicious beverage. Between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago, cacao plants were first cultivated in Mesoamerica by the Olmec, living in… Continue Reading

Isabella Mary Beeton

Isabella Mary Beeton

Isabella Mary Mayson is best known by her married name: Mrs. Beeton. She was born in Cheapside, London on March 12, 1836. Her father, Benjamin Mayson, died when she was four, leaving her mother Elizabeth pregnant and with four young children. Three years later Elizabeth married Henry Dorling, a widower with four children of his own. The blended family, which… Continue Reading

Negus and Ratafia

Negus and Ratafia

Negus is the name of a drink made of wine, most commonly port, mixed with hot water, spiced and sugared. This mulled wine, created by Colonel Francis Negus (d.1732), was served at the balls in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and The Watsons, and noted in other classic literature such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Negus comes… Continue Reading

Celebrate Independence Day with Savory Delights

Celebrate Independence Day with Savory Delights

Red, White, and Blue Pasta Salad Ingredients: 16 oz rotini pasta Red and blue food coloring 16 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed 6 oz pepperoni slices, quartered 7.5 oz marinated artichoke hearts, chopped 3.5 oz sliced olives 15.5 oz garbonzo beans, rinsed and drained 1 medium red onion, diced 1 red bell pepper, diced Cheese & Garlic… Continue Reading