Party Punch that Swirls and Sparkles

punch-deaconess-2Whether you plan to celebrate or protest, the U.S. Presidential inauguration week begins with gatherings of all kinds. Continue reading

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New Year Tradition: Tea, Cakes, Egg Nog

Egg Nog with nuts and cheese.JPGMost Americans associate champagne and caviar with the New Year, but other traditions pre-date that. The Puritans used to visit each other for tea and cookies on New Year’s Day. New Year’s receptions hosted by women became popular in the 19th century. Continue reading

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Cranberries for Chanukah


This year marks one of the rare times that the first night of Chanukah coincides with Christmas Eve. Interfaith families might be lighting candles while waiting for Santa. My favorite latke recipe never changes but this year I decided to try my grandmother’s handwritten cranberry sauce recipe as a topping for latkes instead of the traditional applesauce. Written on a piece of paper from a long-gone insurance agency (Tabb, Brockenbrough & Ragland)  in Richmond, Virginia, the recipe itself has survived the test of time and still tastes “perfectly lovely,” as my grandmother liked to say. Canned pineapple was a novelty in the 1930s so that might explain why it’s there. No matter what, the sweet tidbits contrast nicely with the tart cranberries. And there are eight nights to enjoy the sauce!

Pineapple-Cranberry Conserve (1930s)
Makes about 4 cups

4 cups cranberries
8 ounces pineapple tidbits, drained and juice reserved
1 orange, sliced thin, then quartered
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped almonds

  1. Add water to the pineapple juice to make 1 cup.
  2. In a large, stainless steel pot, cook the cranberries with the pineapple juice and orange. When the cranberries start popping, add the sugar and tidbits. Cook until thick, about 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chopped almonds. Let cool before serving with latkes or just plain.
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Follow Me to Tennessee Cookies

cheesecake-xmas-cookies-doneI’ve been waiting to try recipes from The Pear Tree, a cookbook from the Junior League of Knoxville, Tennessee (1977), ever since my daughter and I sped out of Nashville just ahead of a major storm in 2015. The book’s focus on Christmas menus mostly limits it to December. I finally found the right occasion to make Cheesecake Christmas Cookies for my office holiday gathering. Continue reading

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German Gingerbread from the Family

lebkuchen-done-1It’s been more than 100 years since my German ancestors arrived in the United States but traces of the Old Country remain in our recipe boxes. This recipe for lebkuchen, a German gingerbread, appears on two different cards in two different styles Continue reading

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Cranberry Cheer

cranberry-port-sauceThe cranberry, a fruit native to America, brings a welcome splash of color to the Thanksgiving table each year. My berries usually come from eastern Massachusetts, even though Wisconsin is the nation’s leading cranberry producer. Americans everywhere crave cranberries at this time of year. Rushing the holiday season a bit, I made relish from Auburn, Alabama Continue reading

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Sweet Potatoes for Presidents

sweet-potatoes-t-roosevelt-donetheodore_roosevelt_1904-library-of-congressThanksgiving became an official holiday in 1863 during Abraham Lincoln’s administration, and most U.S. Presidents have put sweet potatoes on their holiday tables ever since. Continue reading

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