You are currently browsing articles tagged Traditions.

When I was a little girl, my favorite “teddy bear” was a black and white panda.  I cuddled and slept with it every night, and dragged it around, by its arm (or leg) all day.  I had other stuffed animals, but this one was my real buddy and companion. I didn’t want to share it.  I didn’t want to wash it.  I didn’t want to be away from it.  Over the years, it became withered and torn and kind of sad looking, until one day…..I just forgot about it as I grew up into other interests.

Many years passed:  grade school, middle school, high school, engagement, marriage and a child.  A beautiful baby girl with blue eyes and a bright smile.  The joy of our lives.  We all had great hopes for her happiness and success and made plans for her future as a grown up girl.  You never realize how much impact a child can be until you hold her in your arms and look into those innocent eyes and see a little bit of yourself in them.

On my 30th birthday, August 21,1987, my daughter was just past turning 5 years old and my father gave me the most precious gift. It was a framed picture of a panda with a note he had written on the back. It told me that my ownership of this special picture was only temporary, as I was to give it to my own daughter on her 30th birthday and she to hers and so on and so on.  In this way his love and legacy would be passed through the generations to “all the little girls”.

This year, my daughter turned 30 years old – where did the time go?  It was my priviledge to turn the picture over to her loving care until another “little girl” in our family reaches 30 years old.  Even more special, was that my father was able to see his legacy passed on to another generation.

The Panda that was “born” in 1957, will live on and on, bringing joy and comfort and love on behalf of Dad, GrandPa, Great-GrandPa and on and on.  Thank you Dad, for thinking of your “little girls”.

Tags: ,

Well, I am back to the blog after MANY months.  I started a new full-time job which consumes most of my computer time, so by the time I get around to pleasure use – I get burned out.  Nothing refreshes the Dot-Two-Dot urge better than our annual Family Vacation, though.  Spending time with family and friends at Imperial Beach.  It is gorgeous COOL weather here while it is searing heat back home.  Wish we could bottle the sea breeze and take it home with us.  But, a full 7 days of sun and fun are all that we have to enjoy.  We have two ocean-front condos with all the amenities. 

Eating “in” most every meal, but we are all good cooks, so things are always delicious (though not so health conscious, as my daughter and son-in-law remind us). Some are into exercise, some into books and puzzles, some into bars and some just into the scenery and relaxation.  Whatever their pleasure, all have plenty to keep them busy.This is the first vacation for little Cameron (only 3 months old now) who had a cute themed outfit for every day – travel to the beach; pirates; SPF 50 surfer shirt; monkeys and more.  He is precious and a very good baby.

Those of you who know us, or have read previous blogs, know that we do a family play or themed event.  This year it was 60’s Day.  We made our own tie-dye t-shirts (Cameron got a tie-dyed Onesie – SOOOO cute!) and strung our own “Love Beads” (Dad made extra necklaces and rigged a great system for stringing them in a methodical way – always the engineer!).  60’s music filled the day.  Meatloaf and Mac N’ Cheese were on the menu, followed by a Tie-Dyed Jello cake (yum).  We ended with 60’s toy replicas (magic 8-balls, Slinky Dogs, Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots, Wooly Willy and Matchbox cars of 60’s models.




Our annual puzzle was a challenge, as always, but we accomplished it in 4 days.  Colorful sailboats on a beach with a tropical sky and foliage.  No “shovels” on the pieces, only knobs, so matching was tricky.  Then there were the sand and sky pieces, all similar in color – but not when you really study them, eventually the subtle hues start to emerge and you see the connections.  Kind of like families in general – don’t you think?

My daughter and I had a SPA DAY and got pedicures and cute little white flowers on our toes.  We ramped up and got the leg exfoliant and massage – ahhhhh.  Others got pummeled in the surf or sunburned – ouch. A few had a hangover – double-ouch.

Every night, it was sunset time – every night was an amazing photo opportunity.  After dark, we could see the fireworks from SeaWorld and track satellites and see the stars, planets and constellations.  Most went to bed early – what the heck, we’re on vacation!

As all families do, we have our “moments” but the memories outweigh the drama in the end.  How lucky we are to be able to stay connected in this way. It is my wish that all the others feel the same way and carry on the tradition through the generations.





Image Hosted by

My memories of Christmas long ago

are those of a feast of aromas. Always, there was the
crisp cold blast of fresh air when I left the warmth of our house to go visit Grandma across the street. It wasn’t exactly going to Alaska, but Mom made sure I was bundled up like a little Eskimo, which made it a bit shaky waddling through the snow piled up at the curbs when you crossed the streets, but I could still breathe the intoxicating air deep into my lungs. It never seemed quite so clean and fresh as it did right after the first snowfall.

Christmas also meant the scent of evergreen in the house. There were no ‘forever’ Christmas trees in those days, just the fragrant, fresh cut tree (we always got a short needle, easier to trim) that stood in our front window. We did use electric lights, though…I’m not quite old enough to remember candlelit trees…I think. It does get a bit harder to remember each year.

Naturally, as soon as we were up, doing the
gift scramble on Christmas morning, we’d be smelling peppermint candy sticks that had found their way between the packages. Mom always said that Santa’s Elves had left them, just because we’d been extra good that year. If you were sitting on the floor, fairly close to the coffee table, you would also get a good whiff of the fudge that sat on a tiered tray there. Homemade, too!

Not too long after we were involved in giftdom, Mom would escape out into the kitchen and the Maxwell House Coffee song would come bubbling in on a beckoning tune of fragrance. Soon it was followed by the aroma of toast and, all our gifts opened, we’d trot out to the kitchen to breakfast on fresh sliced ham, Dad’s Italian sausage, Mom’s bread toasted, with a jar of her orange marmalade to go with, and cheeses and olive salad left from the Christmas Eve extravaganza. You could bet that in just a few moments, the door would open and Uncle Al from across the street would be bouncing in to have
some breakfast and a Café Sport with Dad. Uncle Al always smoked a pipe, and at Christmas time you could count on him trying out some new exoticblend he’d received. I never was much for the scent of any tobaccos, but that pipe is still one of my memories of the Scents of Christmas, like it or not.

As soon as breakfast was over, Mom got another big turkey ready and popped it into the oven. Thanksgiving and Christmas, our big turkey days,
meant a house full of the scents of spices and mince, fruit pies and quince and of course the promise of the roasted bird to come!

Once all the preparations for dinner were done, I’d usually get dressed up in my new outfit – there was always something taffeta that rustled, a frilly slip, and new Mary Jane shoes to wear for the holidays, along with my usual stash of skirts, blouses and sweaters to wear until spring. All dressed up, my
dad would take me over to visit Grandpa Tony, Aunts Lucy and Angeline and Uncles John and Rocky, my dad’s family who lived next door to us. (Didn’t have to bundle up so much, this time, because Dad carried me through the yard and over
the snow!)

They would have a great tree in their living room, also. Aunt Lucy was a whiz with angel hair. The blue lights peeping out from behind the veil of white fluff, placed expertly all over the tree, looked etherally beautiful. Dad’s family was much more simplified in their Christmas celebrations. Grandma died before I was born, and most of the fixing and doing was in the hands of the kids, so it was simple. Not that they weren’t great cooks, though! Aunt Lucy made cavatelli to die for, and Grandpa had a greens and beans minestrone that made your mouth water just to smell it; not to mention his goat cheese, made from the milk of his own goats.

So, the scents from their Christmas house in my memory are the sharp smell of cheese curing in cheese cloth hung from a rack in the kitchen,
coffee simmering forever in a big steel pot on the back of their stove, sauce bubbling away to cover their cavatelli dinner, fresh rolls baking in the oven
and the piney, fragrance of a Christmas tree, weaving its way into the kitchen from the parlor.

The Four Tree Christmas
Image Hosted by
Christmas 1980 was probably our last ‘real tree’ year. We ended up
with 3 big trees and a small live table tree you can see right behind the
“Frosty” Cake.

Things are just abit different on Christmas Days in the later 1990’s for my family. For years we did the big turkey dinner, after the Christmas Eve feast, but several years ago we thought we’d try something different.

We’ve been spending Christmas Day at daughter Lori’s ever since the grandchildren got big enough to open presents. It’s great fun taking all our exchanges to the one house and watching each other open gifts ‘one by one’. The kids take turns being “Santa” and selecting a gift from under the tree for everybody in turn, and we all ‘watch’ as the gift is opened before someone else’s gift is selected. That usually lasts from around 9 a.m. till noon — what can I say, we are all so good, Santa is extra generous with us! Lori always has a buffet breakfast for us to nibble at, as we see fit during the gift opening. Plenty of Eve leftovers, just as in the olden days, find their way up to the house and serve as lunch. Again, catch as catch can.

What’s really new, though, is that early in the a.m. I set enough dough to raise to make about six pizzas for our Christmas Day Supper. Lori gets a big pot of chicken soup started, so that we can put together a great wedding soup and of course, a monster salad is mandatory. There’s always plenty of cookies, nut roll and pies for dessert, and we may even have some punch left from the night before. A bit of wine or beer, some hot coffee or cold soda and ahhhhhhh.

This much simpler supper instead of a huge Christmas dinner, is easier on the cooks, better for the diners and leaves a lot of time to play cards or games, or just nap a bit after lunch. Of course, it suffices to say that these goodies lend a whole new adventure to our Scents of Christmas Day
memories. That’s the best part!









Wedding Soup

Large 6-Qt Soup Pot
2 lb+/- Chicken–4 Qt Water–3T Chicken Base–1 Medium UN-peeled Onion
3 Eggs–2 Carrots–1/4C Chopped Parsley–2 Stalks Celery with Leaves
¼ C Romano Cheese–¼ tsp Black Pepper–1 Head Escarole, Wash, Chop
1/2 lb ground beef
½ lb Fine Pastini, Cooked According to Recipe on Box
Bring Chicken, Water, Base, Celery, Whole Onion and Carrots just to a boil in pot. Lower heat immediately and simmer slowly 2 hours. Do not boil. Skim as


Make tiny meatballs with the ground beef by adding salt, pepper, grated Parmesean, breadcrumbs, 1 egg and 1 tsp dry beef boullion. Mix all together and roll meatballs about the size of a penny.

Remove the Chicken to cool so that it can be handled. Add the meatballs to the hot broth to simmer. When chicken is cool, remove the skin and bones and chop Chicken bite size. Return to pot. Add the Chopped Escarole and continue cooking very low until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, stir in the cooked Pastini, mixing well.Whisk together well
the Eggs, Romano Cheese, Black Pepper and Chopped Parsley. Bring Soup to the
simmer and stir Beaten Eggs into soup in a steady thin stream. Cook about five minutes more, or until egg sets up. Serve with extra Romano and Pepper
to taste.

Tossed Salad

Your preference of
lettuce and greens, vegetables or a variety of each. Anything goes with this
Italian dressing.

Italian Dressing

Blender or Large Bowl and Mixer
2 C Red Wine Vinegar — ½ C Cold Water — 2 T Balsamic Vinegar
½ C Olive Oil — 3 T Sugar — 1 T Garlic Granules
3 T Onion Flakes — 1 T Parsley Flakes — 1 T Oregano — 1 T Basil–3 T Salt — 2 T Brown Mustard — 1 T Black Pepper
Blend well in blender or mixer. Makes about 1 Quart. May be stored in refrigerator.
Serve at ROOM TEMPERATURE, Shaking well before

Pizza Platter Recipes

Pizza DoughLarge Bowl for Mixing and Raising
6 Large Cookie Sheets or Large Round Pizza
Corn Oil for coating pans
2 Packs Instant Fast-Rising Yeast — ½ C Very Warm Water — 1 T Sugar
Dissolve Yeast in Water. Add Sugar; stir until
dissolved. Set aside.
4 C Hot Water–1 C Milk Warmed–2 T Corn Oil–1 T
Sugar–1 T Salt
About 5 lb. All Purpose Flour

Dissolve Sugar in Warm Milk. When Yeast mixture bubbles, add to Milk. Add the oil to Hot Water in a
large bowl. Pour in Milk/Yeast mixture. Whisk in Flour, 2 C at a time. Add Salt with the first addition.
Whisk well after each addition.

When you can no longer use the whisk, switch to a heavy wooden spoon. Continue adding flour and mixing until a stiff dough forms.

Flour work counter/board very well and turn out dough onto board. Continue folding over and working in flour until it starts to spring back.
Add a bit more flour to the board and knead for about 5 minutes, until dough is very springy and does not stick to board.

Oil a large bowl that will allow the dough to raise double. Form a big ball with the dough and put it into oiled bowl. Punch down a bit and flip over, oiled side up. Cover with clean towel, set in a warm place and let raise until double.

Punch down, turn over and let raise until double
again.Dough is now ready to make pizzas, rolls or

Pizzas (Use about 450-475 degree oven to bake pizzas to insure crispness. Slip off pan last few minutes to further brown the bottom.)

Cut six balls of dough, big enough to spread to about ¼ inch thickness on an oiled pizza pan or cookie sheet. Place each ball onto a tray and proceed to spread dough, letting it rest a few minutes every so often, until all sheets are covered.

Left over tomato sauce for Pasta makes a great pizza sauce. Just add more oregano to your taste. Spread over pizza shell; add toppings of your choice.
(Always pre-cook loose sausage or ground beef before using in a pizza. Pepperoni should be placed beneath the cheese so that it doesn’t burn in the baking.)

A “White” Pizza can be made by beating eggs
together with Romano Cheese, parsley, garlic salt, and pepper, then spreading it over the pizza dough. Add slices of provolone or grated mozzarella before

A “Greens” Pizza can be made by frying spinach or escarole greens (that have been boiled or thawed and squeezed of all water) in olive oil, minced
garlic, crushed red peppers and salt. Spread over pizza shell. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Roll up like a Jelly Roll.Let raise until double.
Brush with oil, sprinkle with Coarse Salt. Bake at 350 until golden brown.

Isn’t that just like a big family? Going off and making NEW
TRADITIONS? You’ve got to love it!


Tags: , ,

As we get closer to the Christmas holiday, the time to start our baking has come.  MANY varieties of cookies, cakes, breads, jello molds and candies will eventually decorate my dessert table on Christmas Eve.  But, like all good things, each recipe will take time and patience, so we begin early in the month with things that will stand the test of time.  Everyone has their favorite cookie variety:  Peanut-Butter Kisses, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Snowballs, Thumbprints filled with jeweled-colored jellies and jams, Snickerdoodles, Spumoni layer cookies (very colorful) and sugar cookies, just to name a few.  
For some, the concept of Fruitcake is a frightening one, at best, that conjure up the thoughts of dense, dry, sticky bricks that are the butt of many a re-gifting joke.  But, I PROMISE you that the recipe beow that has been developed by us over the years is DELICIOUS and really speaks to the festivity of the season.  I encourage you to try it and if you hate it – ReGift it!
Next in the attached recipe department is my Mom’s favorite recipe for Nut Roll, which is not her own recipe but rather one that she felt was the most superior version found from her youth.  Besides nuts, the filling could also be Poppy-Seed or Lekvar (a prune filling) – no matter what the filling, be a generous as possible, but be careful to not overfill or your Rolls will split and ooze.  These are outstanding and get rave reviews from everyone who tries them. 
Finally, I have added the recipe for Crispel – which CAN NOT be made very far ahead, same day or a few hours prior to serving is the best.  The dough can be made ahead, but the frying and sugaring must be done at the end.  These light, airy, doughy pillows frosted with granulated sugar (some like them just plain so we leave some alone after frying) melt in your mouth and are quite addictive.  Everybody begins to salivate when we start to fry them and they appear out of the woodwork to sample the final product – we have no problem finding people for “quality control”. 
I will do the fruitcakes and Dad will do the Nut Rolls (maybe poppy-seed too) and mix the Crispel dough and we both share the cookie baking.  As we progress to final products for display, I will add photos of the sweet feast to this post.  Suffice to say for now that they are beautiful, tasty and unique and one of the highlights of the Christmas Feast.
These traditional foods are just a few of those which have sttod the test of time in our family. I am sure many of you have similar favorites within your own sweet memories.  If you have a special recipe send it along to be posted and tell us about the story behind the delicacy that is special to you.  In this way, we honor those who came before us and keep their memories alive.
Mother/Daughter Fruit Cake
3 Boxes Flavored Dessert Bread Mixes (suggestions: Nut, Date, Cranberry-Orange, Apricot; mix/match)
3 Eggs beaten well;  ¾ C Oil

1½ C Orange Juice Concentrate mixed with 1½ C Apricot Brandy (or other fruit flavor liqueur)
16 Oz Mixed Candied Fruit +  1/3 cup chopped dates + 6-8 Oz broken pecans

For decorating and glazing the top of the loaves AFTER BAKING: WHOLE pecans, white Corn Syrup, OJ concentrate and Gran Marnier liquer

Mix all main ingredients thoroughly, divide equally into 2 buttered or sprayed bundt pans – or 5 Foil Loaf pans. Bang pans on counter to spread evenly and remove trapped air.

Bake in pre-heated 350° oven for 45-55 min. (until a toothpick comes out clean ). Cool on rack. Remove from pans when slightly cooled. Lightly press WHOLE Pecan Halves into the top of the loaf in a pretty pattern.

While cooling, prepare glaze of ½ C Orange Juice Concentrate (no
water added), ½ C Gran Marnier and a 1/4 C of Light Corn Syrup.

When cakes are cooled, cut Cheesecloth pieces large enough to cover a cake, rinse cheesecloth under cold water and squeeze dry. Then soak the Cheesecloth in the glaze mixture. Cover the cakes with the cloths and wrap cakes tightly in foil, then plastic bag or place in airtight tin. Keep them covered and occasionally re-wet the cheesecloth with the glaze mixture. Store in
refrigerator to keep from molding. For best flavor, make several weeks before
serving. (Alternate non-cheesecloth  method:  Leave loaves in the original baking pan and paint the glaze liberally and oftern on the top, letting the liquid seep down into the cake, unmold day of serving and aint all outer serfuces with glaze again, let dry to a shiny finish).

To dress up cake before serving, tuck holly into the center opening and serve on a tiered cake dish. It’s not your everyday old fruitcake, after all!

Bunny Scenarie’s
Two-Hour Nut
FILLING (Prepare First)
Grind 1 Lb Walnuts very fine in grinder or blender
Add: 2 C Sugar – ½ C Brown Sugar
– Small can of Condensed Milk and 2 T Vanilla to the ground nuts in a large
bowl. You should have a thick nut paste that can be easily spread. Add milk
carefully if it gets too thick as it sits.

DOUGH (This does not need to rise before making rolls)
2 Packs Quick Rise Yeast – ½ C Very Warm
Milk – ½ Lb Butter
13-Oz Can Evaporated Milk – 3 Large Eggs – ½ C Sugar – 1
tsp Salt
1 T Vanilla

6+ C Flour

Dissolve 2 Packs Quick Rise
Yeast in ½ C very warm milk & set aside

Heat Can of Evaporated Milk,
to steaming.

Dissolve one pound butter in hot milk.
Let cool to very warm
Stir the yeast mixture into the butter and milk.

Beat 3 Large Eggs very well in large bowl with mixer.
Slowly add ½ C Sugar beating constantly.
Add 1 T Vanilla & mix again.

Meanwhile measure out about 6 C sifted flour.
Begin combining the flour a cup at a time, alternately with the milk/yeast mixture, to the beaten eggs. In first cup add 1 tsp salt. Start with flour and end with flour.

You can use the mixer until it is too stiff to work, then switch to wooden spoon. Use more or less flour, as needed to make a dough that will ball up and be workable without being sticky. (Amount of flour will depend on size of eggs, etc.)

Turn dough out on lightly floured board. Knead gently until it forms up and can be shaped into a ball. Flatten ball slightly and cut in 8 equal pieces. Shape pieces into round balls…let sit under a bowl.

Immediately begin to form nut rolls. (I recommend rolling them out on a sheet of waxed paper or better still, parchment paper. You can easily flip the paper over to make the dough roll over into a jelly roll shape and it prevents tearing of roll.)

Roll each piece of dough out on the lightly floured paper until it is about 1/8″ thick. I shape mine in rectangles, because it is easier to seal the ends.

Brush the dough with melted butter. Spread thinly right to the edge with nut mixture. (Mixture rises a bit in cooking so too much bursts the dough.)

Roll up jelly roll style, but more tightly. Seal the ends by pressing dough together and tucking the closed end under the top fold of the roll.

Place the rolls on a foil covered cookie sheet (this makes it easier to remove to cool), 2 to a tray. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until double in size, about 20 min. Brush tops with melted butter, sprinkle lightly with sugar & bake in preheated 350° oven until golden brown…. (About 20 minutes.)

Remove from oven; lift foil and all onto a cooling towel or cloth. After a few moments of cooling, roll the Kolachi off the foil to finish cooling. After thoroughly cooled, store snugly wrapped in foil, then plastic bag. Keeps very well a week in refrigerator, 6 months or more in freezer.

(Sugared Fried
Best When Made on Day To Be Served; does not keep well.
1 Pack Dry Yeast (fast rising is best)
¼ C Very Warm Water + 1T Sugar
– 1 C Scalded Milk
½ C warm tap water – ½ C Sugar – 1 tsp Salt – 2T Corn
2½ C Flour +/-

Dissolve yeast in ¼ C very warm water and 1T Sugar,
set aside.

Scald the milk and add the ½ C warm tap water to it in a large
Add the ½ C Sugar, Salt, & Corn Oil to the Milk Mixture. Stir
Add the Yeast Mixture, stir.
Beat in 1½ C Flour with wooden spoon
very well. Cover and let sit for 20 Minutes.

Add enough Flour to make a
Stiff Dough (about 1 C). Mix well.
Turn out on floured board and knead until elastic and smooth.
Place dough in greased bowl, turning to oil on all sides, cover and let rise until doubled.

Punch down & let rise to double again.

Heat about 2 inches of peanut oil to 375 in a large skillet, or
deep fryer.

Cut dough into 3 inch pieces; stretch and poke hole in center
to make donut shape.

Fry in oil, several at a time, turning, until raised and light brown. Drain well on paper towels. Immediately shake in paper bag with granulated sugar. Place on large tray and let cool.

Shake in sugar bag again after all are fried and sugared the first time.
(This goes easier as a 2-person operation… one to fry, the other to sugar.)

Mound in lined basket or bowl, cover with plastic bag until serving time.
This recipe will serve 8 easily, but it is very popular. Recipe can be doubled, tripled.

Tags: ,

In 1978, I bought a Hallmark dated ornament for my boyfriend (now my husband) to commemorate our love for each other.  Annually, thereafter, I bought another one and another one to commemorate more love, our marriage and our first home.  Then, our daughter was born and we bought one for her in 1982.  Others started hearing about our tradiition and started giving us dated ornaments – so we in turn started giving ornaments to them as well.  As the years march on, this legacy continues as markers of our family tree.

We use the ornaments to mark milestones in our lives – births and the toddler years, anniversaries, Eagle Scout, marriages and deaths.  We use them to celebrate accomplishments, unique talents and interests that are part of our individualism – rowing, Pharmacy, Tae Kwan Do blackbelts, classic cars and trucks, Wizard of Oz and Disney characters and many beautiful, hand-made keepsake ornaments made by and given to us by my brother and his talented ex-wife. Other ornaments express sentiments of love and pride and support.  Our travels and adventures are chronicled – Chicago when my son won the Craftsman Invent-a-Tool national contest, Niagra Falls and Disneyland which are my favorite magical places, Big Bear Lake and many other destinations where we vacationed as a family and Alaska cruise memories, among many others. Some make us laugh, some make us cry – but all of them have meaning and memories associated with them and often invoke conversations about them as we all trim the tree together.  For some, I suspect this is a somewhat tedious task, but for me, it is a special start to the season and I thank them all for indulging me this simple pleasure of their time and love to do this every year. My hope is that this tradition will continue long after I have passed to another plane and I can look down and hear the stories told and the laughter fill the room with love and sweet memories.

As the years march on, our collection has become quite large but someday they will be passed on to our children and hopefully, their children and on and on…so they can continue the stories of our family tree.  This year our new ornaments commemorated our 30th wedding anniversary, our son’s passions for photography and fine wines, our daughter and son-in-law’s pregnancy and personalized, hand-made ornaments about each of us as pain-stakingly created by my daughter.  They will hang in the place of honor at the center of the tree that is always reserved for new ornaments and then they will reappear next year and many years after with all the others – shiny bits and pieces of what makes us a family.

Tags: ,

Turkey Day

We are so fortunate to have our family close to each other so that we can share this day together with each other and friends.  We take a group effort approach to the festivities.   This year, my brother baked a super moist 20.5 lb  that was picture perfect and my husband deep fried an 8 lb breast – there were plenty of leftovers to send home for those beloved turkey sandwiches.  Dad and my other brother handled the mashed – creamy and rich.  I did the hor’dourves, pumpkin soup, the sides and the pies.  Hor’doureves made their debut during the football games. I made a ham, cheese, onion, mushroom and potato quiche using country ham and potatoes that Dad and I bought in the Carolinas.  We had Waldorf lettuce cups using apples and Georgia pecans that we got on the road as well. Ravioli Alfredo, Italian meats, a cheese variety (including the chevre’ we got at the goat farm), bruschetta and veggies with crackers and breads rounded out the fare.  For dinner, I made those Yams in the Pan, Stovetop stuffing (family’s favorite), Mike’s creamed onions, gravy, asparagus and fried onions, Crescent Rolls and cranberry assortments. Pumpkin, Pecan and Apple pie were for dessert – need I say more?  (Yes, with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream!) Mike turned on the Christmas lights before everybody left, so they could see the first of Christmas as the holiday season blossoms again.

Today, all the Thanksgiving decorations came down and all the Christmas decorations went up.  The house looks festive and beautiful and is filled with the soft glow of Christmas. The ornaments will go onto the tree this Sunday and I will explain that tradition on my next installment.  I hope that all of you are getting in the spirit despite trying times. Remember that the secret of the season is within our hearts, not our wallets.  Enjoy every day and enjoy each other.  The best gift is to give of your heart and your time.




Nobody said it better than my Mom, so I will turn this blog over to her “Thanksgiving – Then and Now” post from November 2006.  She has passed, but we still all get together to keep the traditions and are in the midst of preparing some of her recipes for the big day (which are included in her blog that is attached).  My brother is going to bake the big turkey and my husband will deep-fry a large breast.  Look at the October 11 post from our Road-Trip to Beantown for a great Yams in a Pan recipe that I will be using this year. The rest of us will fill in the meal with hor d’ourves and side dishes and desserts.  We hope that your celebration with family and friends is also blessed.  Now, I will turn over control of the mouse to Mom…click on this link to open the file: HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE







Tags: , ,

Buhl Farm Park, with its large grassy expanses and towering trees, swings and play areas, winding roads where we used to wash/wax our cars and ride our bikes, the band-shell where many a concert was attended, the community swimming pool and the infamous snow sledding hill was the favorite spot for family picnics and reunions.  Labor Day was especially important, not only
because it marked the end of summer, but also because the region was
predominantly steel mills and factories where the American Union workers were
quite loyal and proud – my family among them.

 The large stone reserved picnic pavilion is where most of the Bishop and Falvo/Combine Family Reunions were held.  I can still envision the games of softball, football, horseshoes and badminton that had we played in the adjoining
field.  Those picnics were real events.  In addition to the traditional hot dogs and burgers, everybody brought dish after dish of homemade scrumptious family ethnic foods (ziti, lasagna, hunter’s chicken, potato and macaroni salads, sausage with peppers and onions, fried greens, corn, ham, scalloped
potatoes (See Traditions/I Smell a Memory for the recipe), dandelion salads, homemade rolls and cakes, pies and desserts of all descriptions).  There
was plenty of free flowing beer, wine (some home-made) and soda.

      Boys would go to the lake and bring back all sorts of frogs and toads and salamanders, just to startle the girls and the moms. People came early and stayed late as radios blared Italian or contemporary music and baseball commentators.  We played cards and checkers and, except for a few transient family feuds, enjoyed each others’ company.  The evening was often topped off with sparklers or fireworks and running through the grass with our glass jars – trying to catch fireflies.

It was a time when families were not so far apart and extended families stayed
connected.  It was a time of togetherness that left us with the special remembrances of those days. Today, we usually find it too hot in Las Vegas to spend the day at the park and extended family members are spread out across the nation or have gone to heaven, so our celebrations are smaller and closer to home.  However, we still usually spend time together with good food, good music and good company and use the pool at home for the Labor Day holiday picnic.  Still making memories and spending time together is important to us because it keeps us focused on family connections – a Labor of Love.



Tags: ,

(Excerpted from I Smell a Memory, by Joanne S. Bishop 2003)

What is your earliest memory of the mouth-watering smell of something good? For me, it came on a cold winter’s day, several weeks after my uncle and his new wife came to live with us.  They were married in October of 1939 and times were hard on newlyweds then, just before the USA went into WWII, so they settled into one of our bedrooms and shared the kitchen until they could find and afford a place of their own.  Though I was just under four years old, I can remember most of the first-hand observations I made of some of the different ethnic practices of the first non-Italian member of our family – Uncle Mike’s wife, Lee, who was of German descent.

On this particularly frosty day, some time in November, I had crawled up on our living room sofa to look out of the window and watch big flakes of snow fall through the beam of the street lights that had just flickered on against the gloom of the late afternoon, when I was drawn by a magnetic aroma that wafted from the kitchen where Aunt Lee was preparing their dinner.  Jumping down from the couch, I scooted from the living room, maneuvered around our big dining room table and on sturdy three-year old legs, followed the mysterious (potatoy/oniony) smell – different from anything I had ever caught scent of cooking in our home before.

In the kitchen, I watched has as she pulled a casserole from the oven to test the potatoes that, nestled in a creamy, white sauce, were beginning to turn golden brown on top.  That, alone, was enough to stop me in my tracks.  Cook with milk?? Never, in my short years of experience in that Italian family; they would talk about it for months to come.  Uncle Mike would surely starve!  She gave me some, though, when it was all tender and golden, and I was hooked for life.

Bolstered by the fact that Uncle Mike had not yet starved to death (or been poisoned), the rest of the group finally worked up the courage to try her casserole at one of our picnics.  They mobbed her for the recipe!

 Aunt Lee’s Scalloped Potatoes

(Serves 4 to 6)

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees; Bake casserole on a foil-lined cookie sheet to catch any boil spill-over.  Generously butter bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

4 Large Russett Potatoes – peel, slice thinly and place into a bowl of cold water  1 Large onion – peel and slice thinly

Mix together 1/2 cup Flour, 1 Tablespoon salt and 1 Teaspoon pepper

Add 4 Tablespoonfuls of melted Butter to 2 cups whole milk (substitutions for even creamier potatoes:  2 cans Evaporated Milk or 1 Quart of Cream)

Drain the potatoes well, overlap a layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Place some onions on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle the flour/seasoning mixture over the potato/onion layer.  Repeat:  potato layer, onion layer, seasoned flour layer – until all are used.

Pour the milk/butter mixture over all to cover (you may need to add more milk or cream to bring the volume up to cover all layers).

Tightly seal with foil or lid.  Bake 1 hour at 375.  Lower heat to 325 and remove cover to allow the top to brown and all is tender (approx. 45 more minutes).

Tags: ,

 Caribbean Lentils

from our Carpenteria, CA family vacation, August 2011

First, make a fragrant broth with the following ingredients:

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 large carrot (peeled and grated)

1/2 large sweet onion, chopped

5 whole sprigs (stems and leaves) cilantro

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 cups chicken broth

juice of 1/2 small lime

1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, salt and black pepper (if you like it spicey, you can also add 1/4 tsp of (optional) cayenne pepper)

1/8 teaspoon of Sumac (optional)  (you can substitute Curry Powder)

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer about 30-60 minutes (until vegetables are soft).  Remove the cilantro stems (if leaves fell off, that’s OK, you can leave them).  Mash all the vegetables until fine and incorporated evenly throughout the broth.  Add more chicken broth to bring total volume to 2 cups.

When the broth/veggie mixture is finished – THEN add 1 cup dried lentils (I prefer the orange colored ones). Cook at low temperature until liquid is absorbed and lentils are soft (add more chicken broth, if needed, to allow enough liquid to be absorbed – do not let the lentils dry out and burn on the bottom).  The final consistency will be like a thick oatmeal.  Can be served plain as a main or side dish ( you can also add a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt just before serving).


Tags: ,

« Older entries