Country Cook News – December 20, 2013

Hi Everyone!


Every holiday since as far back as I remember my mom made Melt-In-Your-Mouth Divinity for us at Christmastime. Throughout the years she became a master at making divinity, and could whip up a batch faster than I can say, “making delicate, cloud-like mounds that melt on my tongue is a skill I didn’t inherit from my mother.” Although I didn’t pick up her knack for making the fluffy food of the gods, I did learn to never make divinity on a rainy day. “If the humidity is high you’ll end up with a pan full of sweet goop,” she used to say.

Well-made divinity should have a thin, crisp outer coating with an ever so slight and surprisingly moist center. The satisfying crunch of tiny walnut pieces at the end help to clear the palate for the next heavenly nibble…



There are so many fabulous holiday blogs that I decided to select a sampling of 2013 Blogs of the Week. These blogs scream, “I’m special, delicious and unique.” Each one begins with a spectacular holiday goodie. Start at the top and scroll down to a sugarplum land that will spirit you away to holiday splendor.

Shugary Sweets has posted Gumdrop Fudge and Peppermint Brownie Bites, Sprinkles of Parsley offers Peppermint Hershey Kiss Brownie Bites, Crock Pot BBQ Ribs and 7-Layer Magic Bars, A Family Feast presents Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Oven-Fried Rosemary Chicken (I’m making this Thursday night) and Snowflake Oreo Cookie Balls, Daily Dish Recipes suggests their Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn and Baked Cranberry Donuts and Magnolia Days gives us Tangerine Yogurt Cake and Lemongrass Coconut Quick Bread. What an impressive holiday line-up; time to get cookin’.



Living on a Dime and Everyday Cheapskate  are two sites that will help save some money and time throughout the holiday season and beyond…



Start 2014 by sharing stories about women much like yourselves who started anew with spirit and determination. My story in the book is Making Lemonade, which is about finding new friends who helped me cope after my divorce back in 1987. Purchase Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls through me for $15 each signed and personalized, which includes shipping in the U.S. Contact me at to arrange for purchasing your gift copies. Sorry, it’s too late to deliver in time for Christmas…think, New Year gifts or early 2014 birthdays.



According to a Taste of Home here’s the Top 25 Food Gifts that we make for loved ones (remember to include you). How many of these recipes have you made? How many of them do you plan on making? You’d best get busy, only 5 days till Christmas.


Blueberry Tea: Stir 1-ounce Grand Marnier and 1-ounce Amaretto into a cup of hot Earl Grey or Darjeeling tea.  Mm, it’s a delicious wintertime warmer.



Tchaikovsky Christmas-themed Nutcracker ballet premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892. It received a lukewarm welcome but it is now the most famous ballet in the world, with Nutcracker performances making up almost 40% of the annual ticket sales for ballet companies.



Combine 1 medium-size bottle Russian or Catalina salad dressing with 1 medium-size jar orange marmalade and 1 package (dry) French onion soup; pour over 4 to 6 chicken breasts. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes.



Use an inexpensive moisturizer with petrolatum listed as one of the top three ingredients on the label advises a Mayo Clinic study. Eucerin Original Moisturizing Creme or Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion are two options.



Send your own personal letter to Santa or see yourself in a video (letter) to Santa. It’s all here and it’s loads of Christmastime fun. Site includes Santa and the elves favorite recipes so you can make the cookies Santa likes most to ensure you’ll receive that just-right-gift under the tree on Christmas morning.


ASK CYNTHIA A QUESTION – December 20, 2013

Christine asked: Are sugarplums a real sweet treat or just a term we hear in movies and songs during the holidays?

My answer: A sugarplum is indeed a real sweet treat dating back to the 1600s. It’s a piece of candy that is made of dried fruits and shaped in a small round or oval shape. “Plum” in the confections’ name means any dried fruit whether it’s dried plums, dried figs, dried apricots, dried dates, dried cherries, etc. Traditional sugarplums may not contain any of the above mentioned dried fruits. Some recipes for making sugarplums consist of finely chopped almonds that are stuck together with honey and spices such as anise, fennel, caraway and/or cardamom. This mixture is rolled into balls and coated with sugar or shredded coconut.

Making sugarplums was a tedious process until the 1860s when manufactures started using steam heat and other mechanisms to streamline the process, at which time, sugarplums became available for mass consumption. Today, some candy manufacturers have taken “sugar plum” literally, creating plum-flavored, plum-shaped candies and marketing them as “sugar plum candy.”



We like to share our recipes, quotes and quips, so forward this newsletter to anyone you think might enjoy it.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


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