Saturday, December 27, 2008


Well, we're back - sort of. Son Austin arrived home from college complaining of a sore throat, and by the time we were ready to head out for Dallas, it was obvious that everyone in the house was coming down with his disease. What to do, what to do? Do we go anyway, and run the risk of passing our germs along to the whole clan? Or do we call at the last minute and tell them "Never mind, we aren't coming after all," knowing that my sister Kathy hadn't even been planning to put up a tree this year, until we told her we would be staying with her, and then put up not one but two trees, and decorated her house from top to bottom! Well, call me chicken- hearted, but we loaded up the car with all our Kleenex and cold remedies, and headed north.

I still don't know if we made the right decision. We spent most of the time leaning one against the other on my sister's sectional sofa, each wrapped in a lap blanket, nursing countless mugs of hot tea. When we ventured out to the family festivities we resembled the living dead, and had no interest in the foods spread out before us, but still, everyone seemed glad to have us there. Of course, that could all change dramatically, when the first one wakes up with a throat full of snot.

Monday, December 22, 2008




First it was my gift-sewing assembly line, then it became our gift-wrapping headquarters, and finally, just three days before Christmas, we were actually able to use our table as a place to share a proper meal - a very delicious breakfast which included kolaches made by son Austin.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I don't know about you, but our family seems to go through recipe "eras." You know, like when you make certain new recipes over and over because you are madly in love with them and just can't get enough of them, but then one day you just wake up and realize you are finally sick to death of them, and you never make them again?

When I was in eighth grade I took an home economics class. In December we cooked up a bunch of different candies and confections, then invited our moms up to the school for a holiday tea. Three of those recipes became family favorites, and I made them every single Christmas until I left home, then never, ever made them again. One was Candy Strawberries - a concoction of sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar and coconut, that was tinted red and shaped into strawberries, rolled in red sugar, and capped with a green almond stem. Very pretty, but unless you are mad about coconut, ick. Second was the Martha Washington candies - they had centers made from powdered sugar, chopped pecans, and probably something lard-like, which you then dipped in a melted chocolate and paraffin coating. Yep, you heard me right. We celebrated Christmas every year by eating candle wax. Again, ick! Last, but not least, were the Golden Tassies - balls of cream cheese pastry dough stuffed into jewel-sized muffin tins and poked with a finger to form the crust, then filled with a bit of sugary pecan mixture. I'm not a big fan of pecan pie, being more of a chocolate or fruit filling person, but these weren't half bad, because they provided a much better crust-to-filling ratio. Somewhat labor intensive, though, unless you can find a few play-dough-loving kids with tiny fingers, to help you poke all the little crusts.

We've been through many different recipe eras since then. My recent fixation has been my Tex-Mex trilogy: Mexican Chocolate Streusel Brownies, Pecan Pralines, and Spicy Candied Pecans made with brown sugar and Cholula hot sauce. I love them so much, and make them for so many occasions, that I am in danger of reaching the burnout stage if I don't apply the brakes. So, this year I asked Lex to dig through my old recipe notebooks and pick out a couple of her childhood favorites. She chose two that we burned out on back in the 80's, but which I'm quite excited about re-introducing - Chocolate-Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats and Almond Poppy Seed Cake. YUM!