Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Celebrate The New Year

A Brand New Year!
Can't Believe It's Almost Here...

Baby New Year
J.C. Leyendecker

It's Time To Dance And Sing!

Baby New Year
Mary Englebreit

And to give thanks
to the Lord
for so many things!

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!"

Auld Lang Syne

-Robert Burns

"When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, 
“What are the days of auld lang syne, Pa?”
“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,” Pa said.  “Go to sleep, now.”
But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods.  She looked at Pa sitting in the bench by the hearth, the fire-light gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle.  She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.
She thought to herself, “This is now.”
She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now.  They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now.  It can never be a long time ago."
-Little House In The Big Woods
Laura Ingalls Wilder 

Celebrate The New Year! 

"By the way, what's for supper?"

New Year's Supper # 1
Roast Shoulder Of 
Pork With Apples
And Onions

A 4 to 5 lbs boned, tied
shoulder of pork
Thyme, ground coriander
6 to 8 medium onions, peeled
8 cooking apples, cored
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
8 Tablespoons sugar
8 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup melted butter mixed with
3 Tablespoons sugar
Salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
Run the shoulder well with a little
thyme and ground coriander. 
Arrange on a rack in a roasting pan
and roast in a 325 oven, allowing
about 25 minutes per pound, until
the internal temperature reaches
165. After about 11/4 hours, add
the onions to the pan. Baste with
the pan juices and cook until
tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, remove a center band
of skin from the cored apples.
Stuff the cores with the mixed
raisins, nuts, sugar and butter.
Put them in a baking dish, add 1/2 cup
of water and bake in the oven with 
the pork until they are just tender,
basting occasionally with the 
butter-sugar mixture.
Salt and pepper the pork well
and remove it from the oven when
it reaches 165.  Allow to rest on a 
hot platter for 10 minutes before
carving. Drain the onions and
arrange them around the meat.
Serve the apples separately.
Skim the excess fat from the juices
in the roasting pan and combine
the juices and cream.
Bring to boiling point and
cook down for several minutes.
Season to taste and serve with pork.
This coriander-flavored pork is
wonderful cold. Serve with Vegetable
Vinaigrette and French bread. 
 From the book, 
"How To Eat Better For Less Money"
By James Beard and Sam Aaron

Culinary Master
James Beard

New Year's Supper #2
Pennsylvania Dutch
Baked Ham With Potato Salad

1 ham (10 lbs.)
Whole cloves
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons water in which ham
has been cooked

Wash ham and cover with boiling water
and let cook on top of the stove for 4 hours.
Let ham stand in liquid overnight.
(In the refrigerator)
Next day remove the fatty rind, make gashes
across the surface of the ham, and
stick in the whole cloves.
Mix sugar, flour, and mustard
with syrup and water. Spread
over the ham; place in roasting pan.
Bake uncovered at 400 for 45, until
glazed and thoroughly heated.
Makes 10-12 servings.

Dutch Country Potato Salad

8 medium potatoes
1 stalk celery, diced
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
1 onion, minced
4 slices bacon, diced
2 eggs beaten
1cup sugar
11/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup  (apple) cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon minced parsley

Scrub and cook potatoes in their jackets.
When tender, peel and dice.
Add the celery, hard-cooked eggs, and onion;
toss lightly.
Fry bacon in skillet until crisp and brown.
(Remove from skillet. When cool enough to handle,
chop bacon and add to potato-celery mix.
To the beaten eggs, add sugar, salt, pepper,
mustard, and a mixture of vinegar and water;
mix well.   Working quickly, pour egg mixture into the
hot bacon fat in skillet and stir (over medium heat) until mixture thickens
(about 10 minutes)
(Remove from heat.  Allow dressing to cool down a bit), then
Pour over the potato mixture and toss lightly to mix thoroughly.
Chill several hours before serving.
Garnish with minced parsley
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Recipes from the
 "Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book"
Culinary Art Books
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

 But What's Ham Without Pineapple?
Especially For Dessert!
Pamela's Pineapple Upside Down Cake
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 20-ounce can of  pineapple slices, reserving juice or syrup
 Maraschino cherries
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 Teaspoon of vanilla or lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt 1/3 cup of butter in a skillet and remove from heat.
Add brown sugar to melted butter until blended and pour into the bottom
 of a slightly greased 13 x 9 inch rectangular cake pan.
Arrange pineapple slices on top of brown sugar-butter mixture and place a
cherry in the center of each ring.
In a large mixing bowl, beat white sugar with remaining butter 
until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add vanilla or lemon extract.
 (Or freshly grated zest and juice from a lemon if available)
In another mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
Blend into creamed mixture alternatively 
with 1 cup reserved pineapple
juice or syrup diluted with enough water to equal 1 cup.
  Mix well and carefully pour cake batter 
over pineapple slices in pan.
Bake for 35 minutes or until cake springs back when touched.
Let stand for about five or six minutes then invert
 onto serving plate.
Serve cake with whipped cream

 Some Words Of Wisdom...

"Don't Look Back.
 Something Might
Be Gaining On You"
-Satchel Paige

"Learn from yesterday,
 live for today, 
hope for tomorrow." 
- Albert Einstein

"Pray often,
for prayer is a shield
to the soul."
-John Bunyan

Happy 2015 Everyone!
May God Richly Bless Your Life
In The Coming Year

Friday, December 26, 2014

Holly Hobbie Christmas

When I was a girl growing up in the mid-1970's,
Holly Hobbie, the sweet, blue calico-sunbonneted rag doll
captured my young heart.   I remember how thrilled I was
to find my own Holly waiting for me under the Christmas tree one year!

Vintage Holly Hobbie Rag Dolls were made by
the Knickerbocker Company in the 1970's.

I think that Holly's enormous popularity at the time was due
in part to the sweet, sunbonnet-wearing, (although not in the
picture below) Ingalls sisters of the hit NBC-TV weekly series,
"Little House On The Prairie"

The oldest Ingalls girl, serene and studious Mary, was played by actress Melissa Sue Anderson; (left); 
 Second daughter Laura, was a spunky tomboy, played by actress Melissa Gilbert;(right);
Their darling little sister, Carrie, was portrayed by real life twin sisters Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush. (middle).

 Sweet Baby Grace Ingalls, the fourth sister, was also 
played by twin sisters, Wendy and Brenda Turnbaugh.

Today, primarily thanks to the online auction site e.Bay.com,
I have managed to collect several of Holly's friends, namely,
Heather, Amy, and Carrie.
Furthermore, while browsing in my local Goodwill Store one day,
I came across a porcelain Holly Hobbie doll lying precariously amid
the tangled debris on the top shelf of the messy doll and toy section
of the store.   Her dainty pink calico print and lace-
trimmed straw bonnet instantly drew my attention and I found
myself carefully extricating her from the tangle of picked over toys.
As soon as I saw the smattering of freckles across her sweet, slightly
 smudged face I knew who she was right away!  The best part was I only
paid $3.00 dollars for this adorable treasured doll of my childhood!

   From the Four Seasons series
 of collectible bisque porcelain
 Holly Hobbie dolls, 
made by the
Gorham Doll Company, 
in association with
 American Greetings

I remember the year I turned eleven years old
and my mother made me a Holly Hobbie birthday cake
with her special Wilton cake pan...

I also remember how one of our rambunctious German 
 Shepherd puppy dogs almost chewed off one of 
my Holly's legs while I was at school one day!
However, in addition to being a wonderful baker, my
Mom is also a great sewer, and she skillfully mended 
the mauled rag doll's nearly severed leg!

Some Holly art work...

Holly is a sweet, shy little country girl...

and patriotic American lass,

Who takes the time to daydream...

And who loves to cook up something fun!

While bringing joy and happiness
to everyone she meets!

Creator of Holly Hobbie
  Denise Holly Ulinskas

Holly will always bring me happy and precious memories
of my childhood days....

and Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The World Of Winslow Homer

"When you paint, try to put down exactly what you see.
 Whatever else you have to offer will come out anyway.”
-Winslow Homer 

Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer was one of America's
premier landscape artists of the 19th century.
Known for his reclusive lifestyle,
Homer was best known for his
maritime paintings, which captured
 the majestic beauty and mystery of the sea.

American Artist
Winslow Homer

"Never put more than two waves in a picture,
it's fussy."
-Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer

West Point Prout's Neck
Winslow Homer

"You will see, in the future I will live
by my watercolors."
Winslow Homer

The New Novel
Winslow Homer

Morning Glories
Winslow Homer

Butterfly Girl
Winslow Homer

"Look at nature
work independently,
and solve your own problems."
-Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cardinal Caller

My parents are a pair of northern snowbirds who loved spending every winter and the early months of spring vacationing at their favorite campground near the community of Marathon,
 in the beautiful Florida Keys

Big Pine Key

Several years ago,  Dad and Mom had just returned from their annual pilgrimage south.  Mom called me early one morning in mid-April to let me know that they were home.
  She then preceded to tell me a strange and remarkable story about what happened to her and my father shortly after leaving The Keys.

My parents were driving north along the highway, pulling their large travel trailer behind their truck, when a sudden, loud thud startled them both.

"What on earth was that noise?" Mom asked with alarm.

My father behind the wheel glanced into the truck's side mirrors.
"It sounded like something in the road hit the bottom of the trailer," he said.  It might have been a rock.  I'll check it when we stop tonight."

My parents were the owners of a small trucking company in southern New Jersey. Due to some pressing business matters, they were anxious to get home and were traveling as far as they could that day until darkness fell. That evening they stayed in a campground near Titusville, Florida.

The next morning, Dad checked out the trailer for any damage. Seeing nothing unusual, he went to start up the truck only to find that the battery had died overnight.  He  then walked up to the campground office to see about getting the battery re-charged, leaving Mom alone at the  trailer.

 Meanwhile, Mom was busy tidying up the trailer and getting ready to cook breakfast. As she went about her work, she was startled by a sudden sharp rapping sound on the window in the living  room.

 To her genuine surprise,  there was a beautiful red cardinal  hovering only  inches from the glass.  The little bird lingered for a moment and then flew  away to perch on the lowest branch of a pine tree at the edge of the campsite.
  Mom  was truly amazed and stood there for a few minutes watching him. 

 The bird seemed to be staring right back at her. 

Northern Cardinal
(Male Bird)

  A few minutes later,  she had resumed doing  her morning chores, when the familiar rap-tap-tapping came again, this time on the rear window of the trailer.   Mom looked and there was the same cardinal. This time he was perched on top of the bicycle rack attached to the  back of the trailer and when he saw my mother he began chirping frantically at her. His shiny black eyes seemed to be pleading with her as his sharp little beak rapped again on the glass

"Are you hungry fella?" Mom asked him.

She went out to the kitchen and grabbed a handful of raw oats from a canister.  The brilliant red bird had once again flown away and was sitting in the pine tree.

   Mom opened the nearby  window and threw out the oats on the ground for him.  She then turned her attention to getting  breakfast ready for Dad and herself.  While stirring the pot of oatmeal she was cooking, Mom occasionally glanced over at the window. From her vantage point in the trailer kitchen, she could clearly see the pine tree where the bird sat motionless, perched on a branch a few feet above the ground.  Although she thought it was silly, my mother could not shake the strange feeling that this bird with  brilliant red feathers was watching her through the glass.

When Dad returned from the campground office, breakfast was ready and waiting. While they ate, Mom told him about the curious behavior of the cardinal.

"Maybe he saw his reflection in the glass and thinks it's another bird," Dad  surmised.  Some birds are territorial."

While they ate, my parents occasionally looked over at the pine tree.  Like a little red sentinel, the cardinal remained perched on the branch, motionless, looking right back, or so it seemed, at my parents seated on the other side of the glass.

After breakfast, my parents still had to wait for the truck's battery to fully recharge, so they decided to stretch their legs and take a walk, along with their dog, Shiloh, around the campground.

 Before they left the trailer, Mom glanced over at the pine tree.  The cardinal was still there.

 About thirty minutes later, my parents returned to the campsite and began preparing for that day's long drive ahead of them.

With the battery now fully re-charged, Dad was checking
 the truck's oil.  Meanwhile, Mom went back inside to tidy up the kitchen when she suddenly remembered to ask my father to look over the trailer once again before they pulled out.
Turning back to her work, she happened to look over at the window to see that the cardinal had not moved from his perch.

A few minutes later, Mom was busy inside the trailer finishing up some last minute details, when Dad called, asking her to bring him a flashlight.  Grabbing one from a drawer in the kitchen,
   Mom went back outside and found my father standing by the hitch between the truck and the trailer. 

 While she held the light for him,  Dad reached down into the well of the truck's fifth wheel and pulled out what looked like a large piece of broken metal.
 "This is the thud we heard yesterday," he told my mother, holding it out for her to see.

 "What is that?" she asked him.

"It's part of the safety mechanism which secures the trailer to the truck," he explained to her.  It must have broke off and landed in the well.  We've been traveling only partially hitched up. Thank God we did not come apart on the road yesterday."

Mom felt a chill run through her.  Just the thought of the terrible danger they had been in, traveling all those miles, often through heavy traffic, running over rough and uneven portions of highway, with their large truck only partially hitched to their equally large trailer...  but then, making it safely all the way to the campground in Titusville without a mishap...

It was nothing short of a miracle!

My parents offered up a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for keeping them safe.

Mom then headed back inside the trailer to finish her last minute travel preparations.  She also happened to glance over at the pine tree on the edge of the campsite.

The beautiful red cardinal was gone.

Since hearing this incredible story, I have often wondered about the mysterious Cardinal Caller.

   Why did he seem so anxious to grab my mother's attention? Was he merely seeing himself in the window and was trying to challenge his own reflection in the glass?

Throughout the Bible, angels have served as God's messengers sent to earth on special missions and to protect His people from danger. 
The beautiful red bird did manage to distract my mother from her normal morning routine with his strange and persistent tapping and chirping at the windows of the trailer.   

 And, his lingering presence in the pine tree certainly helped to delay the time of my parents' departure that morning- along with the dead truck battery- long enough for Mom to remind Dad to check over the trailer again, which led them both to the shocking discovery that they had traveled all that long way from Big Pine Key to Titusville, a trip of over three hundred miles, with the trailer only partially hitched to the truck. 

Again, I believe this was nothing short of a miracle.

 Furthermore, I am more convinced than ever that not only is the God of the Universe concerned with the minute details of our lives, but, there is certainly no doubt, at least in my mind, that it could have only been the work of angels, and in particular, a little red winged creature sent from heaven, who saw my parents safely off on their long journey home.

"For He will give His angels
especial charge over you to
accompany and defend and preserve 
you in all your ways, of
obedience and service."
Psalm 91:11

Written By Pamela Denise Brida