Ringin’ in the Appalachian New Year

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My older daughter and I went to a really great event on Sunday called Ringin’ in the Appalachian New Year.  It was held in the large cafeteria of Holy Family school in Price Hill (a suburb of Cincinnati).  As you can see by the poster, there was something for everyone with continuous music from 1 PM to 5 PM….

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One portion of the program included hoe-down style square dancing and I was so glad to see my daughter on the floor enjoying herself after two years of medical problems …

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Admission was something for the potluck dinner, although no one was turned away who wanted to eat.  I brought my Swiss Chicken and Orzo Casserole which I baked and then put in a hot pot to keep warm.  There was a wonderful spread of food including chicken, ham, three kinds of bean casseroles, cornbread, salad, bread and lovely desserts – all delicious.  There was a contest for the best “corny” dish and a pie contest.  I haven’t entered a pie contest in over 30 years but brought along my favorite Concord Grape Streusel  pie and won first prize.

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The Memory Quilt mentioned in the poster is a collection of memories of Appalachian and country life that attendees have written over the years and collected in binders – a quilt made by writing rather than sewing.

We don’t usually have anything special that we look forward to after New Year’s in January, but from now on, this event will be highlighted on our calendar.

Christmas Markets

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In 1990, my oldest daughter and I took a Christmas Market Tour in Austria and Germany.  The picture above is captioned, “Our favorite booth at Innsbruck”.  It was an amazing bus tour through Austria and Bavaria and it snowed heavily for the entire trip.  There was some white-knuckle bus riding on alpine roads like this one….

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…and my daughter got this shot of me walking back to the pier at Herrenchiemsee.

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This was typical of our daily walks through famous landmarks and tourist areas ….

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My daughter in Salzburg

….and, of course, the wonderful Christmas markets.

Since that trip, my daughter has collected items for me that are reminiscent of our time there.  I have one shelf of Department 56 German houses and Christmas market booths.  There’s even a Krampus by the Biergarten.

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Another shelf holds an array of small collectibles – an advent calendar, a music box, small cardboard foldouts, tins, boxes…
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My favorite is this tiny market my daughter made that has one-inch figures.

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I love to look at the little collection and remember a week in 1990 with blustery mountain roads, snow-packed sidewalks, Gluewein and huge pretzels at colorful crowded booths and a storybook Christmas on all sides.

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New Curtains for Christmas

Last summer, I took down the venetian blinds in the kitchen to give it a more open, airy look and repurposed some old lace panels to make curtains.

When fall came, I didn’t want to put the blinds up again but wanted a little more covering for the windows.  I found some wonderful reproduction feedsack fabric while in Ohio Amish Country and made some curtains that looked great with the autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations.

I really liked the curtains but I thought they might clash with all the bright reds and greens that go up at Christmas time, so once I again I made a set of curtains using white and red gingham.  They were the first things to go up in the kitchen before I began my holiday decorating.

They’re so bright and cheerful that they might be up until Valentine’s Day and into spring.

Christmas Cherry Mince Tarts

In 1987, my oldest daughter came up with an idea to add tart cherries to a dried fruit mincemeat that I made.  We enjoyed it so much that it ended up replacing the regular mince pie on our holiday menu.  This is a small English-style Christmas tart version.  It was our dessert today on a snowy December afternoon.

CHRISTMAS CHERRY MINCE TARTS

  • Pastry for single-crust 9-inch pie
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chop0ped
  • 1/4 cup prunes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen tart cherries
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 Tblsp. quick cooking tapioca
  • 1 tsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Divide pastry dough into five portions.  Use four portions to line small tart/pie pans (mine measure 4 inches diameter across the top).  Set aside.

In a small pan, combine finely chopped apricots, chopped prunes and raisins along with the 1/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until liquid is absorbed – about 4 minutes – stirring occasionally and keeping a close watch so the mixture doesn’t burn.

Remove from heat and stir in frozen cherries (no need to defrost).  Stir in cinnamon, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, chopped walnuts, salt and tapioca.  Mix well and divide among the four unbaked tart shells.

Roll the remaining portion of pastry dough and with a 3-inch cutter, cut out a design and place one on each of the tarts.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Place tarts on a large sheet to catch spills and bake @ 400 degrees F

for approximately 25 minutes until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling.

Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes four 4-inch tarts 

A nice treat when it’s cold, windy and snowy outside.

Carrot Bars with Orange Cream Frosting

We got our first major snowfall of the season and my oldest daughter came to spend the day with me and do a little shoveling.  For supper, I made our go-to meal on a cold winter day – potato soup with homemade yeast rolls.

Here are my previously posted recipes for Potato Soup and Yeast Rolls.

For dessert, I went back to a recipe I had first made in 1989 from a cookbook called Blue Ribbon Cookies.   It was a nice finish to a hearty, body-and-soul warming meal.

CARROT BARS WITH ORANGE CREAM FROSTING

Carrot Bars:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×9″ baking pan

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tblsp. water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3 Tblsp. chopped nuts
  • 3 Tblsp. raisins
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, water, sugar, sour cream and vanilla.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and ginger.  Add the dry ingredients to the oil mixture and blend well.  Stir in the nuts, raisins and grated carrots.

Spoon mixture into a 9×9 greased and floured baking pan.  Bake @ 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Cool in pan placed on a rack.

When the bars are cool, frost with:

ORANGE CREAM FROSTING

  • 1 Tblsp. softened butter
  • 1-1/2 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 3/4 Tblsp. orange juice concentrate
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Place above items in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Frost top of bars.

Cut into squares to serve. 

I’m not a big fan of snow, but being able to share a meal with my daughter in front of the fireplace makes it a lot more pleasant.