I found a special little book this year, titled simply, “The Book of Christmas.” It’s a collection of holiday verse, prose, and carols, compiled by Debra Starr and published by Borders Press, a division of Borders, Inc.
The introduction to the book on the cover reads: “Our Christmases are marked by tradition — holiday recipes, handed-down decorations, each family’s particular ritual for trimming the tree. But most of all this season is defined for us by stories, in the carols, pageants, verse, and prose we’ve associated with this holiday since our childhoods. In their retellings of the first Christmas, and of the manifestations of its spirit throughout the ages, these stories carry within them our own Christmas past.”
Included in the book is a simple prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson, titled “A Christmas Prayer,” which seems as though it could have been written in 2018 instead of the late 1800s.
Although Christmas has passed, the prayer is appropriate for each day of the year, and I’m including it here for you to see if you don’t agree.
“A Christmas Prayer” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Loving Father, help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving, and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen!
Our celebrations this year were different, but none-the-less, enjoyable. Our grandson, Justin and his wife Jessica, who live in Elko, Nev., were here for a visit, with their children, Turner, 3, and baby Sienna. So that everyone could visit with them and eliminate their having to travel around to see all of us, there was a huge family gathering at the home of Dan and Andrea (Butz).
It was a blending of the Goodman family and the Butz family and I loved what our granddaughter Jenny said as she sat down with John and me, and her other grandparents, Carol and Mike Goodman — “Wow, if it hadn’t been for you guys, we wouldn’t even be here!” Referring of course, to the fact that our son Dan married Carol and Mike’s daughter, Andrea. Nice thought coming from a teenager starting her college career. I’m glad that she recognizes that part of her heredity at a young age.
Christmas Eve, we gathered at the home of our son Dave and his wife, Shannon, in Paso Robles. True to her reputation, Shannon prepared a beautiful prime rib, Yorkshire pudding meal. I took a couple of different cranberry desserts to share and I’m sharing one of the recipes here. It’s easy, rich, delicious, and will be perfect for your New Year’s celebration.
I usually bake the tart in a 10-inch pie plate, but this year I used a Springform pan. I liked the thickness of the slices and the perfectly round look of the tart, using that pan.
This recipe originally came from an Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County friend, Karen Willer, who lives in Creston. I love it!
Notes: Grease your pie pan or Springform pan — I use a cooking spray like Pam.
Add ingredients in order given. Stir after each addition.
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven. Use a toothpick inserted in the middle of tart to check doneness. Remember though, the cranberries make it somewhat moist.
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cube butter, melted
1 cup flour, sifted
½ cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups whole, fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through
There you have it — simple, simple! But, oh so good! I like to serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or Cool Whip. I get at least 12 slices from the pie plate or the Springform pan, but it is very rich so you might make your slices even smaller and get 16 slices. You might even try baking it in a square or rectangular pan and cut it in squares. I have not done that so I don’t know how well it will hold together.
I just found a new recipe for Hoppin’ John, which is a must to serve at your New Year’s celebrations. It is a classic dish and is sure to bring “good luck” in the New Year!
4 to 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped roughly
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups chicken broth
4 cups fresh, frozen, canned black-eyed peas
1 can (15 ounces) petite diced tomatoes (optional)
1 ½ cups long-grain rice
Chopped scallions for garnish
In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has rendered some of its fat and is just beginning to get crispy. Add the celery, onions, and green pepper and cook until the vegetables begin to get soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the chicken broth and peas. (If using canned peas, drain and rinse the peas before adding). Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes if using fresh or frozen peas. If using canned peas, simmer for about 15 minutes, or until peas are warmed.
Strain the pea mixture, reserving the cooking liquid; return the pea mixture to the pot along with about 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and keep warm over very low heat. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice and 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid (add water if there is not enough to make 2 cups) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for about 15 minutes without lifting the lid. Check the rice to see if all of the liquid has been absorbed. If not, keep it on the heat for a few minutes more, and when done, fluff it with a fork. Serve the peas and rice together on a plate and garnish with the chopped scallions.
If you like collard greens, cook and serve on the plate along with the Hoppin’ John.
Enjoy, and Happy New Year!