Friday, December 30, 2011

Scottish New Year Tradition

The influx of Scottish families who left their homes to seek work in the south of England brought many customs and traditions of Christmas and the New Year. One such custom is that of “first footing” ceremony. 

Traditionally, a man with dark hair should enter the front door of the home at the stroke of midnight. He should not wear any dark clothes as if in mourning, he should not carry anything sharp, have bad thoughts and should not have a limp or be otherwise impaired. Depending on the area, he should carry specific gifts such as a piece of coal, or other means of providing warmth such as wood or peat; a bottle of whiskey, beer or mead, a loaf of bread or a cake and some silver coins. These gifts are symbolic of the need for warmth, food and drink and wealth. The dark haired visitor may also hold some kind of greenery--the universal sign of a messenger.
The visitor would enter in silence, but after doing so would kiss all the ladies and recite a rhyme.
“I wish you a happy New Year
A pocketful of money, a cellar full of beer,
A good fat pig to last all year
So please give a gift for New Year.”
After this ritual, the visitor must exit through the back door to complete the custom.

From: Christmas Past in Essex by Elizabeth Wallace.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Garrett Estate Cellars

Mitch Garrett

On most Wednesday evenings recently, Mitch Garrett, of Garrett Estate Cellars has been conducting wine tasting events at Boozers Reserve List at 22691 E. Aurora Parkway from 5-7 PM. We sampled the wine and were so impressed...we bought several bottles, and plan on buying a case!

Following is a brief description of the winery.

Garrett Estate Cellars is a family owned and operated winery located in Olathe, Colorado. Our 35 acre vineyard sits at 5350 feet and is a porous, high alkaline heavy sediment derived soil which is a mix of sand, rock, and clay. A climate consisting of warm days and cool nights and drip irrigation from the nutrient rich Rocky Mountain Uncompagre River, provides a quality growing environment for exceptional wine grapes.

With a commitment to creating exceptional wines, we invite you to try all our award winning wines today.

Mitch Garrett.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Apple & Nut Cake

This cake is one of my favorites. It's easy to make, and freezes well. Serve with hot custard or a dollop of cream.

½ cup shortening
1½ cups of white sugar (½ for topping)
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
2½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup of milk
2 cups of chopped apples (I leave the skin on but that’s up to you)
½ cup of chopped nuts I use either walnuts or pecans (topping)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (topping)

Cream shortening, 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of brown sugar together and add the beaten eggs gradually. Sift the flour, soda, baking powder together and add alternately with the milk. Stir in the apples and pour into a greased and floured 13x9 pan.

Mix ½ cup of white sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ cup of nuts. Sprinkle on top of batter in pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 350°.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Best (and easiest) Sugar Cookies - Ever!

These cookies are simple to make, economical, and they freeze well - they are perfect for the holidays.

Danish Sugar Cookies

1 egg                                                             ½ cup of margarine (softened)
2 cups of flour                                               ½ cup of powdered sugar
½ teaspoon of cream of tarter                        ½ cup of sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt                                         ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
½ teaspoon of soda                                        ½ cup of vegetable oil

Cream sugars, vanilla, oil, margarine and egg together. Sift flour, cream of tarter, salt and soda together. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Drop spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 8-10 minutes. Dust with powered sugar or ice and sprinkle with your favorite topping. Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Legend of the Robin Redbreast

Following is an excerpt from Christmas Past in Essex by Elizabeth Wallace

One of the most delightful birds seen at Christmastime and probably the most featured animals seen on Christmas cards (in the U.K.) is the robin redbreast. Robins are so closely associated with Christmastime that many myths and legends surround the friendly little bird.

One the most popular tales is that a little brown robin tried to remove the thorns in Jesus’ crown and, as he did so, a droplet of His blood fell on the robin’s breast turning it red in the process.

Another tale is that a robin who tried to fan the dying embers in the stable where Christ was born. In doing so, one of the hot embers fell out and turned the little bird’s breast red, but he continued regardless with his duties in an effort to keep Jesus warm in the manger. 

Yet another story concerns a superstition that if one sees a robin first thing on Christmas morning, one will have good luck in the coming year. Needless to say, many people provide all sorts of incentives to get the little bird to visit their homes. They provide crumbs, tiny pieces of meat and suet to encourage the little feathered friend to gather where he can easily been seen. A favourite rhyme:

“Robins and wrens - Be God Almighty’s friends.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Patricia Duncan and A Defining Moment

Patricia Duncan has produced a wonderful book that is full of extraordinary photographs, dialog and speeches about our President. The book is doing extremely well, and has a special place in The White House. Following is a synopsis:
A Defining Moment is a 9x10 coffee table book that contains a collection of never before seen color photographs and historic speeches that provides an introspective look at the first African American President of the United States. Take another look at the events that led to a time in American History that will come to be known as A Defining Moment. ISBN-13: 9780615271828.
Go here to see Patricia's video.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cowboy Moving and Storage

On a very snowy day in late November, John (left) and Josh of Cowboy Moving did an excellent job of moving us into a mountain home. The day started off relatively warm and sunny in Denver, but, as we climbed to over 10,000 feet, the snow began to fall, and we wondered how "our guys" would traverse the six hairpin bends up the mountain. We shouldn't have worried. John mastered the road with ease, although he later said he was considering using his chains. Both men were courteous, polite and in good spirits even though they had to stop several times to pick up furniture along the route.