Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The advent wreaths we made as a class earlier in December are holding up very well. This is one has been used as a table centerpiece all season and it is still as perky and fresh looking as the day it was made.
The last herbs to discuss in our advent series are the Gift of the Kings, Frankincense and Myrrh. Frankincense (Boswellia carterli) is an exudate from the wounded bark of a tree. The milky secretion forms tear drops that are used world wide as an incense. According to the ancient law of Moses, it should be burned in a proportion of six parts to one part of myrrh, and its pleasant fragrance compliments the musky odor of myrrh. Its presentation to the Child signified recognition of His divinity. Myrrh (Conniphera myrrha) is a dark resin that exudes from the bark of a small tree of East Africa and Asia. This forms"tears" which are used in perfumes, as incense, and as a healing agent for embalming purposes. In ancient times it was valued more than gold. As a gift to the Christ Child, it signified his mortality.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Chocolate Oreo Truffles
1 package original Oreo cookies (1 lb. 2 oz.)
1 package cream cheese, 8 oz., softened
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted, for coating
Using a food processor, crush 6 of the Oreo cookies until fine crumbs are formed. Set crumbs aside in a bowl. Crush an additional 36 Oreo cookies (until they change the number of cookies in a package, that leaves 3 cookies to eat while preparing this recipe, because you know you will) to fine crumbs in the food processor. Cube the cream cheese and add it to the cookie crumbs. Process until fully blended. Roll this mixture into 1" balls. The mixture is easy to roll and does not need to be chilled before rolling into balls, or before dipping. Melt the semi sweet chocolate. It will melt easily in the microwave in one minute intervals. Stirring after each minute, it should be melted after two minutes. Dip the candy into the chocolate and sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs before the chocolate firms. Place on wax paper covered baking sheet. Chill for approx. an hour. Store the truffles in the refrigerator. To serve, place in colorful candy cups and enjoy!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
First you fill your bag with the herbs. We used 1 teaspoon of celery seed in the tip of the bag, 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder and onion powder for the middle layer with a little bit of dried red tomato for color and one teaspoon each of Basil, Thyme and Parsley leaf for the largest bottom layer of the tree.
Next we poked the cinnamon stick tree trunk into the bottom layer of herbs, and secured it tightly with ribbon. Depending upon the size cake decorating bags you are working with you might need to cut it shorter.
Finally, we hot-glued the Star anise to the top of the ornament. If you are using these as ornaments, loop a thin piece of glitzy gold ribbon and attach it underneath the star anise with glue. Tie a perky bow at the base along with a label listing ingredients and the instructions to prepare the dip.
The attached instruction card read: Add the contents of the dip tree to 1 C Mayonnaise and 1 C Sour cream. Stir and chill overnight, serve with veggies or chips.
These were easy to make, festive and fun to eat too!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Another festive weekend has passed with our traditional Take Tea! Take Joy! holiday tea. These photos show the sandwiches that we served at the tea. We had a Christmas tree cucumber sandwich, pumpkin cream rosette with parsley garnish on brown bread, a cinnamon, raisin, walnut finger sandwich on raisin bread, a toasted Parmesan cheese wreath, and a cranberry chicken salad on white bread. Although the weather didn't want to cooperate this weekend, we did have some intrepid tea enthusiasts that came regardless of the weather. It was a joyful time.
I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that while I cannot give, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven. No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take Peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow, behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy. Take Joy. And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
--Fra Giovanni, A.D. 1513
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Thyme - is allegedly one of the herbs of the manger along with pennyroyal and bedstraw. All three of these herbs are both soft to lay a baby on and also flea repelling herbs.
Rosemary - while not mentioned in the Bible, it is said that Mary lay her coat on a white flowering Rosemary during her trek to Bethlehem. Ever since that time Rosemary has had blue flowers
Sage - The beautiful silvery foliage of sage is delicious in poultry stuffing but also Moses was directed to make the gold menorah based on the growth habit of Salvia.
Bay Laurel - Native to the Holy Land, it spreads into thickets, used throughout the Greek and Roman period as a sign of nobility and honor. King David says in Psalms "I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green bay tree."
While there are many other herbs and plants of the Bible, these are a few that are available in our garden now and that are relevant specifically to the advent season.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Orange Pecan Buttermilk Scones
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. freshly zested orange peel
1/2 c. sugar
1 stick cold butter
1/2 c. pecans
1-1/2 c. buttermilk
Combine dry ingredients until mixed. Cut in butter and mix until crumbly. Add pecans. Add buttermilk and mix just until combined. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough a few times. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough until 1 inch thick. Cut with a round cookie cutter. Place on a parchement lined cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes. Yield: 15 scones
Recipe from: Nancy Reppert's Sweet Remembrances Recipe Collection
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
The Advent wreath is a circle to remind us of God's love which never ends. Evergreen branches in the wreath and Christmas trees are symbols of everlasting life. The advent wreath we began last Sunday had a nice base of evergreens. To that we added a bundle of mature ivy (Hedera helix) with berries and also some berried Holly (Ilex aquifolium). The ancients believed evergreens to be symbols of the continuity of life through the dark days of winter. The plants verdant foliage has decorated homes at midwinter solstice since pre-Christian times. Early Christians saw in the spiny leaves of the holly the crown of thorns, the red berries symbolized for them the blood of Christ. Ivy was believed to lessen the influence of wine, as well as assisting in predicting the future. In folklore, both plants are powerful protectors against evil.