Happy Mother’s Day Christmas Style…a little early

April 24, 2021

The second Sunday of May in the United States is Mother’s Day, a day we celebrate our mothers. Since I won’t be posting another blog before then I thought I would say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” a little early.

Here are three songs for two women of Christmas, Mrs. Santa Claus and Mrs. Snowman plus a recipe you can do for Christmas parties or with your children for you own Christmas celebration.

Enjoy.

Mrs. Santa Claus – Nat King Cole

Mr and Mrs Snowman – Hank Thompson

Mrs. Santa Claus – Angela Lansbury

Marshmallow Snowman

3 jumbo marshmallows
White frosting of choice
2 pretzel sticks
3 red hots
1 star sprinkle
Toothpicks
Black food coloring

Place a small dab of frosting between the marshmallows and stack one atop the other. Poke a pretzel stick into opposite sides of the middle marshmallow to make snowman’s arms.

Use small dabs of frosting to secure red hots down center of snowman for buttons and a star sprinkle for the nose.

Dip toothpick into black food coloring. Poke toothpick into top marshmallow to make the eyes and mouth

Christmas in Spain

March 24, 2021

To whet your appetite (and to get my creative juices flowing) for my upcoming webpage on Christmas in Spain, I’m giving you some videos about Christmas in Spain. The first video is presented by an Australian in Madrid. The next video shows one of the three kings at a Three Kings Parade. The third video gives us a sample of the dancing that can be enjoyed throughout Spain during the Christmas season. The last video lets us enjoy displays of Christmas lights and decorations in Spain.

Enjoy, and Feliz Navidad.

Christmas Recipes From Spain

February 24, 2021

Turrón de Alicante (Nougat with Marcona Almonds)

Notes:

To trim the rice paper or parchment paper to 8- by 8-inches, arrange 1 sheet on a cutting board. Set the baking pan on paper. With a sharp knife, slice the excess paper off. Repeat with second sheet.

Edible rice paper is available at most specialty cake shops.

YIELD:Serves 8 people
ACTIVE TIME:20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 2 hours

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons water
1 large egg white, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 sheets of wafer paper, trimmed to 8- by 8-inches (See Notes)
3/4 cup Marcona almonds, very coarsely chopped

Directions

1.  Line 8- by 8-inch baking pan with heavy-duty foil lengthwise with one sheet, then crosswise with a second sheet to create a sling. Lightly coat sides with spray.

2.  Combine sugar, honey, and water in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir with wooden spoon over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely, 7 to 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and boil syrup until thermometer registers 250°F, 2 to 3 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, whip egg white and salt on medium speed until it holds soft peaks, about 2 minutes.

4.  With mixer running, add hot syrup to egg white in a slow, steady stream. Beat until mixture is thick and glossy and outside of bowl feels cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Add lemon zest and beat just to combine.

5.  Lightly coat rubber spatula with cooking spray. Stir in almonds.

6.  Place one trimmed sheet of rice paper or parchment paper in prepared pan. Scrape turrón mixture into pan, spreading in an even layer with spatula. Top with second sheet of rice paper or parchment paper, and press down lightly with a flat-bottomed 1/2-cup measure to compress and flatten.

7.  Let stand at room temperature until set, 1 to 2 hours. Transfer turrón to cutting board with sling. Remove and discard sling, then cut into 8 pieces and serve.

Recipe from https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/12/dulces-turron-de-alicante-nougat-with-marcona-almonds-recipe.html

Croquetas de Jamón Serrano Recipe – Traditional Spanish Ham Croquettes

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 24 croquettes

Ingredients

4 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup olive oil
1 scant cup flour (just under one cup)
1 medium onion very finely diced
¼ gallon whole milk at room temperature.
1 pinch nutmeg
½ pound jamón serrano diced into small pieces
flour for breading
2 beaten eggs
bread crumbs for breading (try Panko for non-traditional extra crispy croquettes!)

Directions

1.  Melt the butter and warm the oil in a medium sized pan over medium high heat.

2.  Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, until it just starts to brown.

3.  Add a pinch of salt and the nutmeg. Don’t add to much salt as the serrano ham is already salty.

4.  Add the diced ham and sauté for 30 seconds more.

5.  Add the flour and stir continuously, until the flour turns a light brown color. You must not stop stirring or the flour will burn!

6.  When the flour changes color, add the milk little by little, always stirring until you incorporate the entire amount. It should take about 20 minutes to add it all.

7.  Turn off the heat and let the dough cool a bit.

8.  Butter the sides of a large bowl or plastic wrap and wrap the croquette dough inside, covered directly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

9.  To make the ham croquettes, shape them into little logs (or use a pastry sleeve if you have one.)

10. Next, while heating a pan full of olive oil on the stove, pass the croquettes through the breading process. First, cover them in flour, then in egg, and, finally, in the breadcrumbs.

11. Fry the ham croquettes in the hot oil and let them cool for a few minutes before enjoying!

Notes

•    The trick to creamy croquettes is to add the milk very slowly and to stir constantly.
•    You can substitute prosciutto or Iberian ham for the jamón Serrano — or any other high quality cured ham.
•    You can easily freeze the breaded prepared croquette logs.

Recipe from https://spanishsabores.com/croquetas-de-jamon-serrano-recipe-ham-croquettes/

Spanish Twelfth Night Bread (Roscon de Reyes)

Prep:3 hrs
Cook:30 mins
Total:3 hrs 30 mins
Servings:8 to 10 servings

Roscon de Reyes is a traditional dessert, served the night before or the morning of Reyes or Epiphany on Jan. 6. Dia de Reyes or simply Reyes is the day when children in Spain receive gifts from the Reyes Magos–Wise Men or Magi—the three kings who brought baby Jesus gifts. Instead of gifts from Santa Claus, the children receive them from the Reyes Magos.

It is traditional to put several surprises inside the roscon. A porcelain figure of a baby wrapped in foil and a dry bean are hidden in the dough. Whoever finds the baby will have good luck and be the king of the party, but if you find the bean, you pay for the cake.

Ingredients

4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ounce active dry yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm milk (mixed with 1/3 cup lukewarm water)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg white (lightly beaten)
2 cups candied fruit (assorted figs, oranges, lemons, mangos or cherries, chopped or left in large pieces)

Directions

1.        Gather the ingredients.

2.        Sift flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour.

3.        In a small mixing bowl, stir and dissolve the dry yeast in the lukewarm milk mixed with the lukewarm water.

4.        Once dissolved, pour the dissolved yeast into the center of the flour. Stir in just enough flour from around the sides of the bowl to make a thick batter.

5.        With your hand, grab about a teaspoon of the flour from the side of the bowl and sprinkle it over the top of the batter.

6.        Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place, away from any draft. Allow batter to turn spongy, about 15 minutes.

7.        In a medium-size mixing bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to beat together the butter and sugar. The mixture should be smooth and creamy. Set aside.

8.        Add grated orange and lemon rinds, eggs, brandy and water to the bowl with the flour mixture. Mix well. The dough will be sticky.

9.        Beat flour mixture until it is elastic and smooth. Beat in the reserved butter-sugar mixture and mix until the dough is smooth. The dough should be formed into a ball, then covered with oiled plastic wrap.

10.      Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it again in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size. This will take approximately 1 1/2 hours.

11.      While you are waiting for the dough to rise, grease a large baking sheet with vegetable shortening and set aside for later use. If you will use a baking stone, no need to grease it.

12.      Once the dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and punch down dough. Lightly flour a clean counter or cutting board and place dough on it.

13.      Knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, using a rolling pin, roll dough into a long rectangle, about 2 feet long and 5 to 6 inches wide.

14.      Roll the dough from the long side into a sausage shape.

15.      Carefully place the dough onto the large baking sheet or stone and connect the ends together, forming a ring. If you will hide a bean or a small foil-wrapped, ceramic figurine in the cake, now is the time to tuck it under the dough. Cover with oiled plastic wrap again. Leave in a warm place and allow to double in size. This will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

16.      Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl. Uncover the dough and brush the top of the cake with the beaten egg white. Decorate the ring with the candied fruit pieces. Push them into the dough slightly so that they do not fall off.

17.      Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a rack before serving.

In the last half of the 20th century, filling the roscon with whipped cream or a thick custard became popular. Today about a third of the roscones sold in Spain are filled. If you want to fill yours, use a bread knife to slice the bread in half horizontally and carefully remove the top. Next, squeeze in the whipped cream or filling you’ve chosen and carefully replace the top. Keep refrigerated until serving if filled with cream or custard.

Recipe from https://www.thespruceeats.com/twelfth-night-bread-recipe-3083027

Feliz Navidad.

Christmas Recipes From Spain

January 24, 2021

Christmas recipes from around the world can be quite interesting and, at times, amusing. Just think about the Carbon Dulce candy recipe from Spain given below. I think it would be fun to have and give to others. Imagine going up to someone and say, “You are getting a lump of coal for Christmas.”

Feliz Navidad!

Chocolate a la Espanola
(Spanish-style hot chocolate)

½ lb sweet baker’s chocolate
1 quart milk (or ½ milk, ½ water)
2 tsp cornstarch

Break chocolate into small pieces.  Place in saucepan with liquid.  Heat slowly, stirring with whisk, until just before the boiling point.  Dissolve cornstarch in a few tablespoons of cold water.  Add dissolved cornstarch to chocolate mixture and stir constantly until the liquid thickens.  Serve hot in warmed cups.  Yield: 6 small or 4 large servings.

Churros
(fried pastry)

1 cup water
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
oil for deep frying
confectioners’ sugar

In a heavy saucepan, bring water, butter, and salt to full boil.  Remove from heat and immediately add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball.  Turn mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer.  On medium speed, add one egg at a time, beating only until egg is incorporated until adding the next.  After adding the last egg, beat for 1 minute more.

If using a pastry bag, fit it with a ½ inch open star tip.  (A cookie press can also be used.  It should have a star tip.)  Pipe out 5- to 6-inch lengths of dough into 2 to 3 inches of oil heated to 375 degrees F.  Fry, turning occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Drain well and sprinkle with sugar.

Carbon Dulce
(lump of coal candy)

½ cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup light corn syrup
1 tsp anise extract
½ tsp black paste food color
1 tsp baking soda

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending edges over the sides of the pan.  Lightly grease foil with butter or baking spray.

Combine water, sugar, and corn syrup in a non-stick 2-quart saucepan.  Heat on medium-low, stirring until mixture comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved.  Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan (do not let it touch bottom of pan).  Cook for 15 minutes without stirring, until thermometer registers 290 degrees F.  Immediately remove from heat.  Stir in anise extract, food coloring, and baking soda.  Mix well.  Pour mixture into prepared baking pan.  Cool completely on wire rack.

Lift candy out of pan using foil.  Place on cutting board and cover with a sheet of heavy-duty foil.  Use a kitchen mallet to break into pieces the size of lumps of coal.  Store in a closed container or sealed plastic bag.

Goodbye, 2020. Hello, 2021.

December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

As you look back over 2020, don’t look at all the bad that has gone on around you. Instead look at the good; look at the LORD’s blessings on you. He loves you. He wants to do much more for you than you can possibly imagine. The question is will you let Him?

‘The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.’ – Numbers 6:24-26

An Old Time Radio Christmas, Part 6

December 19, 2020

Here are the last episodes of Jonathan Thomas And His Christmas On The Moon. I love how the show was written, in rhyme. I think that makes this one of the great Christmas radio programs of all time. Enjoy the rest of these shows, and have a very merry Christmas.

21. Jonathan Thomas – Jonathan Grows Large And Small

22. Jonathan Thomas – Kirmit The Hermit

23. Jonathan Thomas – The Dragon With The Thirteen Tails Again

24. Jonathan Thomas – Captured By The Squeebubblians

25. Jonathan Thomas – Rescuing Santa Claus

26. Jonathan Thomas – Going Home

An Old Time Radio Christmas, Part 5

December 13, 2020

Here are episodes 16 – 20 of Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas On The Moon. Enjoy.

16. Jonathan Thomas – Saving The Elf King

17. Jonathan Thomas – The Wall Of Doors

18. Jonathan Thomas – In The Kingdom Of Alice

19. Jonathan Thomas – Queen Alice’s Ball

20. Jonathan Thomas – King Squeebubbly And Santa Claus

An Old Time Radio Christmas, Part 4

December 6, 2020

Here’s episodes 9-15 of Jonathan Thomas And His Christmas On The Moon. Enjoy!

9. Jonathan Thomas – Jonathan Has Fallen Under The Witch’s Spell

10. Jonathan Thomas – Jonathan In The Witch’s Dream Cave

11. Jonathan Thomas – Whiskery Bill Meets The Walrus

12. Jonathan Thomas – Getting Rubies At The Rainbow Bridge

13. Jonathan Thomas – Crossing The Frozen River

14. Jonathan Thomas – Jonathan Wakes Up From The Witch’s Spell

15. Jonathan Thomas – O’Gigraf The Lion

An Old Time Radio Christmas, part 3

December 1, 2020

I hope you’ve been enjoying the episodes of “Jonathan Thomas And His Christmas On The Moon” I’ve posted.  Here are the next 5 episodes.

Merry Christmas!

4. Jonathan Thomas – In The Valley Of The Three Dwarfs

5. Jonathan Thomas – The Merry-Go-Round River

6. Jonathan Thomas – The Fairy Queen

7. Jonathan Thomas – Dragon With The Thirteen Tails

8. Jonathan Thomas – Whiskery Bill The Squirrel

An Old Time Radio Christmas, part 2

November 25, 2020

I think being a voice actor like those who participated in these old radio shows was much more difficult than being a movie actor or even a TV actor.  Movie and TV actors rely on body language and visual cues in addition to their voice to get moods, emotions, and lines across to the audience.  Voice actors can use only their voice, nothing else.

This can be seen, or heard, in shows that took movies of the day and produced them for a radio audience.  Below I placed Lux Radio Theater’s version of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  Lux, sponsored by Lever Brothers makers of the Lux brand soap and detergent, produced the shows using stars from the movie in the roles they played.  If one both watched the movie then listened to the radio version, subtle differences may be noticed.  Anything that relied on visual cues had to be replaced with things that could be expressed with audio cues.  When you listen to “It’s A Wonderful Life,” see if you can find the audio cue that replaced a very visual prop that played a big part in the movie version.  Let us know if you figure it out in the comments below, but don’t tell and spoil the fun for others.

In 1937 a 26-part serial called “The Cinnamon Bear” aired.  “The Cinnamon Bear” followed the adventures of Paddy O’Cinnamon, Jimmy, and Judy as they retrieve the silver star that goes atop their Christmas tree stolen by the Crazy-quilt Dragon.  The very next year another 26-part serial was produced called “Jonathan Thomas And His Christmas On The Moon.”  This show follows the adventures of 6-year-old Jonathan Thomas as he goes to the moon to rescue Santa Claus from the Squeebublians.

Below are the first 3 episodes of “Jonathan Thomas And His Christmas On The Moon.”  I’ll post the rest of the episodes between now and Christmas.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Merry Christmas!

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